Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Barbequed Ribs

I don't know what it is like where you are but here it is beautiful; unseasonably warm and sunny and that can only mean one thing...it's time to barbeque.  Canadians are a sun crazed lot. As soon as the temperature inches above 10 degrees you start to see people in full summer mode: shorts, flip flops and the scent of barbeques being fired up permeates the air.

I am no exception when it comes to the barbeque (although I draw the line at shorts and flip flops on 11 degree days), so ribs seems like a good way to kick off the season. My six year old whole-heartedly agrees as I have seen her devour almost a whole rack by herself. That, I must say, was an unexpected sight! Besides, there has been a lot of "sweet" on this site, what with Toffee Chocolate Pretzel Cookies, Chocolate Cake and Coffee Walnut Blondies...it's time for a little "savoury".

Now, there is a lot of debate about what makes the perfect ribs. Do you boil or bake, smoke or slowly cook on the grill?  I will not claim to have the definitive answer but I will tell you I think I make a pretty mean rack of ribs so I am going to give you my method.

To my mind, the first issue is, of course, the pork.  I like back ribs, they are meatier, less fatty and more tender...but they also cost a bit more. As well, I want traditionally raised or organic meat and I do like Berkshire pork so I buy mine from a local butcher, such as Cumbrae's or Rowe Farms.

There is really no mystery to making tender ribs. Like any tougher cut of meat they need to be cooked in a way that will cause the tough fibers to break down.  Yes, that could mean boiling them but to me that is a good way to lose a lot of the flavour as well. 

What I prefer to do is slow roast them in a low oven before I finish them on the barbeque.  This way I am able to infuse the meat with flavour while it bakes. I arrange sliced onion, garlic and thyme over the ribs and pour a bit of apple juice in the bottom of the pan and then cover it and let them braise in a low oven for an hour or so.  When they are done and the meat is falling off the bone, I finish them on the barbeque with a fantastic homemade barbeque sauce. No muss, no fuss and amazing ribs! Now that is the way to welcome Spring!

Barbequed Ribs

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 1/2 to 2 hours
Total time: 2 1/2 hours
Yield: 2 full racks
  • 2 racks pork back ribs
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • salt and pepper

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Arrange the rib racks on a baking sheet. Remove the membrane that runs along the underside of the ribs against the bone if it is still attached before you place them on the baking sheet. You can ask your butcher to do this or simply grab a hold of one end of the membrane and pull it away from the ribs.
  3. Divide the sliced onion, minced garlic, thyme and salt and pepper evenly over the top of both racks of ribs. The salt and pepper should be to your taste, I use about a teaspoon of each sprinkled over each rack.
  4. Pour the apple juice or cider in the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan with foil and bake in the centre of the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the meat is tender enough to pull up easily when you test it with a fork.
  5. Remove the ribs from the oven and scrape the cooked onion and garlic off the top.
  6. Heat your barbeque to a medium high heat. Place racks on the heated grill and cover with barbeque sauce. I start with the bottom side facing up first, cover with sauce and leave for 5 to 10 minutes until the top side starts to brown and caramelize, then I flip the racks over and add the barbeque sauce to the top side. Close the lid and leave for 5 to 10 minutes again until the barbeque sauce becomes a richer caramelized colour. Remove, cut into portions and enjoy with lots of napkins!

Homemade Barbeque Sauce 
This recipe is adapted from a recipe by Tyler Florence

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Yield: 2 1/2 cups
  • 1 slice bacon
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cooking molasses
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 heaping teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Saute the bacon slice with the olive oil and thyme in a large sauce pan until the fat is rendered. Add the onion and garlic and cook slowly until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, stir, and turn the heat down to low. (You will probably not need much salt so I would taste it first before adding any.)
  2. Cook slowly for 20 minutes to meld the flavors. Leave to cool in the fridge while the ribs are cooking. Right before you are going to use it strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a small bowl. Squeeze out all of the sauce with the back of a spoon. Discard the leftover bacon, onion, etc. 
  3. Reserve about 1/2 cup for serving with the ribs. Use the rest to coat the ribs on the barbeque. Enjoy!
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