Who doesn't love ribs?!? There are as many recipes and variations for making BBQ ribs as there are people who eat them, but I thought I'd share my favourite way of making them.
Based on a recipe from Mark Bittman, the secret to these ribs is that they are cooked 3 different ways, each method adding a different layer of flavour to the outcome. These are great for parties as well because almost all of the cooking is done ahead of time, and you can hold them until you are ready to crisp them on the grill and serve.
We've made these with both pork and beef, back and side ribs and the process is the same for each - pick whichever cut you like best and enjoy!
Prep Time: 30mins Cooking Time: 4-6 Hrs
• Ribs (beef or pork - back or side) 1 rack per person
• Salt & Pepper
• (optional) some rough chopped onion, celery or carrot
Braising liquid, i.e:
• 1 Lg bottle of Dark Beer (i.e. Stout or Porter) -or
• 1 can Beef Broth -or
• 1 can Cola
• BBQ Sauce (optional)
Step 1: Preparing the Ribs
Using a sharp knife make a slit in the membrane on the underside of the ribs and using a piece of paper towel, grip the membrane and peel it off the rack of ribs. Cut the racks into pieces that will lay flat into the bottom of a heavy pot. Generously salt and pepper each side of each piece.
Step 2: Cooked First Way - Seared
Put a heavy pot on medium high heat and add 2-3 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of the pan. When it’s shimmering, add one rack at a time into the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on the meaty side until a nice crust forms, then turn over and cook for a minute or 2 on the other side.
After each piece is browned, take it out of the pot and set it aside, you'll see that the meat starts to pull away from the bones a little.
Quick tip - this is the messiest part of the process, and it can get a little smokey, take a cup of distilled vinegar (not wine vinegar) and put it on the stovetop - it will help absorb the smell in a few hours!
Step 3: Cooked Second Way - Braised
Once all of the ribs have been seared, take the pot off the heat while you assemble the ribs for braising.
If you like, you can add some rough chopped onion, carrot or celery to the pot to let them cook and bring down the temperature of the oil in the pot, they will also add some flavour to the braising liquid.
Stack the ribs tightly in the pot (I found the best way is to stack them on their edges) until you can’t fit any more in, and pour in your braising liquid. You can use almost any liquid to braise the ribs (broth, cola, or even just water) but my favourite is a large bottle of dark beer. The dark beer will give the ribs a very rich and meaty flavour in addition to helping tenderize them. I like to use a nice Maple Stout from Canmore Brewing Company, or a Black & Tan beer called Mississippi Mud. If you can’t find stuff like this, Guinness works well and is more widely available.
The braising liquid should almost, but not quite, cover the top of the ribs.
Turn the stove to low, cover the pot with a lid, and let it braise in the beer for a minimum of 2-3 hours, but I think you should leave it for at least 4-6 hours. You can even turn them off after 4-5 hours and hold them until you are ready to eat.
Step 4: Cooked the Third Way - Grilled
After 4 hours the ribs will be falling off the bone tender, so be careful when you are moving them out of the pot. Place them on a cookie sheet, and in theory you could boil down the braising liquid into a dipping sauce but I never bother.
Turn the grill on to med-high and once it’s hot, carefully place the racks on the grill and cook until they get a little charred on the outside.
At this point you can also brush on a little BBQ sauce if you would like the added flavour. You can also make a rub of oil, garlic and fresh herbs for a more Mediterranean flavour on them or use a glaze made with mustard, red wine vinegar and brown sugar.
Once your ribs are a little charred, take them off and enjoy!!
Footnote: If the weather outside is uncooperative, you can easily grill these in the oven using the broiler. Put the broiler on high, and place a rack on the highest or second highest position. Cover a cookie sheet with tin foil and place your racks of ribs on them and grill them under the broiler until you get a little charring.
Enjoy and let me know what you think.
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