Introduction: Pressure Cooked BBQ Ribs
We love ribs in this house, there's a famous Cincinnati restaurant, Montgomery Inn, that makes such a perfect rack of ribs, many people ship them to their homes, no matter the cost, or how far away. When I was young my dad took me on a 4-hour trip to Cinci to eat there, and now there's one in Columbus which is still 90 miles away, but always worth the drive.
When we can't get there I strive to recreate that deliciousness at home, fall-off-the-bone tender ribs, with a touch of smoky flavor, perfect amount of char on the outside, but still juicy inside, and their sauces are excellent too.
I've barbecued ribs, oven baked them, even boiled them (please do NOT boil ribs, you put all their flavor in the water), my pressure cooker is the only method that's given us a near perfect rib at home in the fastest amount of time. The ribs cook in their own sauce, keeping as much flavor in the rib as possible, then we finish them on the grill to let the sugars in the sauce caramelize and create a wonderful char and crispy skin.
All that flavor in less than 90 minutes? I'm in! I based this recipe off America's Test Kitchen's book Pressure Cooker Perfection: 100 Foolproof Recipes that will Change the Way You Cook. I love their method of cooking their pulled pork (https://www.instructables.com/id/Pressure-Cooker-Pulled-Pork/), and these ribs in their own sauce, not only does the meat retain excellent flavor, but you reduce the sauce for serving, and that creates a thick, meaty, full-bodied, sweet, tangy sauce. I've made a few changes that suit my family's tastes and what works best in my pressure cooker.
Per the usual with my other pressure cooker recipes posted, I simply can't say enough about them. My Cuisinart 6-quart continues to turn out the most succulent food, and you can make delicious meals on any weeknight, no need to save those yummy ribs for Sunday dinner. If you are having a weekend barbecue you can pressure cook a couple batches of racks ahead of time, then finish on the grill to serve, your guests will think you've been tending to a smoker all night long!
All these ribs need are some baked beans, cole slaw, and sliced watermelon for the perfect summer meal. I hope you try this recipe soon, enjoy!
Recipe adapted from: America's Test Kitchen Pressure Cooker Perfection: 100 Foolproof Recipes that will Change the Way You Cook
Step 1: Gather Ingredients
For the ribs:
I used 1/4 cup Penzey's BBQ 3000, plus 3 Tbsp. packed brown sugar, and 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper; if you have your own favorite rib rub, feel free to use that. Below is the one America's Test Kitchen used in their recipe:
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 (1½- to 2-pound) racks baby back ribs, cut into 2-rib sections (I usually do 4-5 rib sections, for an almost 4 lb. single rack, but if you need to fit in multiple racks, you may need smaller sections depending on size of your pressure cooker)
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup ketchup
½ cup water
¼ cup molasses
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)
Step 2: Prepare the Ribs
We make these several times a year and do one or two racks of ribs depending on how large/meaty they are, most recently I bought 4 lb. racks from a local butcher, and 1 large rack was plenty for three of us.
Probably the trickiest part of this recipe, at least for my shaky hands, is removing the silverskin on the underside of the ribs, sometimes it peels off fairly easily, others I need to get my dad involved and let him remove it. The silverskin is slightly shiny/glossy, almost translucent, we find the ribs turn out much more tender when it's removed. The easiest way we've found is if you can get a butter knife, or dull side of paring knife, under it to pull up enough that you can grab with your fingers, then ease it off the full length of the ribs, sometimes it breaks and you need to restart, sometimes the stars align and it peels right off, discard.
Once you've removed the silverskin cut the ribs into three sections and dry each as well as you can with paper towels.
Mix the spice rub ingredients you're using together in a small bowl.
Rub half the spice rub on one side of the ribs, half the spice rub on the other side, massaging into the meat as you apply it. (I like to do this on paper towels so if excess falls off I can add it to a Ziploc bag with the ribs so as much gets used as possible.)
At this point you can move forward with the recipe, leaving the ribs at room temperature while you prepare the sauce, or transfer the ribs to a Ziploc bag, seal, and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight (I always let them sit overnight, we like well-seasoned ribs.)
Step 3: Pressure Cook Ribs
In a 2-cup measuring cup, or bowl, stir in ketchup, water, molasses, vinegar, mustard, and liquid smoke, if using, to combine.
Heat oil in pressure cooker pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in all but 1 cup of sauce. Arrange ribs upright in pot with meaty sides facing outward, then pour reserved sauce over ribs.
I consulted quite a few pressure cooked ribs recipes for their cooking times, and they all vary wildly. ATK recommends a 30-minute cook time, some call for as little as 10 minutes. We definitely like fall apart tender ribs, but I opted to cook for 18 minutes, leaving myself room before dinner to allow for extra cooking time if need be. You can always re-pressurize and cook longer, but you can't fix overcooked. This, of course, all depends on the amount and size of your ribs, had I been doing 2 meaty racks of ribs, I probably would cook them 22-25 minutes on high pressure.
Lock pressure cooker lid in place and bring to high pressure over medium-high heat. As soon as pot reaches high pressure, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 18 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to maintain high pressure. If using electric pressure cooker, cook on high pressure for 18 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes. (Don't let electric pressure cooker switch to keep warm, turn cooker off for the natural release.)
Make sure your ribs are tender, they'll have shrunk from the bone, and may even be falling off the bone. If they're fork tender, you should be good to go, give them a taste, I won't tell. If you need to cook them longer you can either re-pressurize, or, simmer in the sauce a few minutes if they're close to being done.
Step 4: Grill Ribs and Enjoy
You have the option of broiling the ribs for the final step, but this is barbecue season is it not? Even if we pressure cook the ribs, saving a couple hours of grilling time, mind you, I still love the char of a barbecued/grilled rib.
Transfer the ribs, meaty side up, to a foil-lined baking sheet (you can definitely cook them right on your grill, but using the baking sheet makes for very easy clean-up.) Preheat your grill on high heat for 15 minutes while you prepare the sauce.
Using large spoon, skim excess fat from surface of sauce. Bring sauce to simmer and cook until thickened and measures 2 cups, about 10 minutes. Brush ribs with some of sauce, place baking sheet on grill (or in broiler) and grill/broil until browned and sticky, about 10 minutes, flipping and brushing with additional sauce every couple minutes. Serve ribs with remaining sauce.
If you have your own favorite barbecue sauce you could use that for grilling and serving instead, I usually like having a few sauce options available for personal taste preferences.
Leftover ribs can be kept, in a covered container, in the refrigerator up to two days. I like to reheat them in my toaster oven.