There’s something about ribs that just says summer. Best made on the outdoor grill, best eaten outdoors with extra napkins for sticky fingers and chins, and best with summer-style sides like tangy coleslaw and creamy potato salad, no other season suits them quite as well.
I like to make ribs by cutting them into serving portions (one or two ribs) and starting them off in a hot and spicy flavour bath, simmering them for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until just-about-to-fall-off-the-bone tender. If I’m cooking ahead, I freeze them on cookie sheets and then store in freezer bags. This way I have ribs on hand all summer, ready any time we have a craving for them or company drops by for dinner – brilliant!
When it’s ribs time, I simply heat them through on the barbecue, first for a few minutes without sauce. Then I turn the heat down and start brushing them with with my sweet and spicy rib sauce, top and bottom, turning a few times and reapplying sauce. The trick is to have the heat low enough that the sauce won’t burn. When they have nice grill marks and the sauce has intensified in colour and stickiness, it’s time to put them on a plate and ring the dinner bell. Not that it will take much encouragement for people to gather around a platter full of these!
We enjoyed these for dinner last night with a simple coleslaw dressed with spicy lime vinaigrette. The zestiness of the dressing was a good counterpoint to the fatty richness and sweetness of the ribs. We enjoyed every one of these right down to the bone. In fact, if I had gotten more out of the freezer tonight, I don’t think the Culinary Enthusiast would have objected one bit!
Spicy Beer-Braised Back Ribs with Sweet & Spicy Barbecue Sauce
Spicy Beer Braising Liquid
I like to braise pork back ribs in a flavourful liquid until they’re cooked through. Then I either individually freeze them and then store for use any time that craving for ribs strikes, or take them straight to the grill with the barbecue sauce that’s below. I cut the ribs into two-bone portions before braising them as I like having them pre-portioned (and they’re easier to handle than a big rack of ribs).
Although this recipe calls for one rack of ribs, why not stretch that braising liquid by either cooking two racks in it in batches, or all at once in a large skillet with a lid. As long as the ribs are mostly covered it should work just fine. If some are sticking out, turn them over from time to time while braising.
- 3 cups chicken stock (I use bouillon cubes)
- 1 cup lager beer
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp molasses
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp dried red chile flakes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cumin, ground
- 1 yellow onion, quartered
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 inch ginger root, sliced
- 1 rack of pork baby back ribs (just over 1 pound)
Place all the ingredients (except the ribs) in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cut the rack of ribs into two-rib portions. When the braising liquid is boiling, turn the heat down and add the ribs. Cover the pot, and cook at a rolling simmer for 40 minutes, or until the ribs are cooked through and tender.
If making ahead for freezing, cool the ribs on a rack set over a baking tray. Once cool, put in the freezer until frozen. Then pack the ribs into a freezer bag or other container and store for two months.
Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce
My mother gave me the foundation of this recipe a long time ago, and I think she found it in a magazine. Funny thing is, we rarely barbecued when I was growing up and I don’t remember her ever making ribs. Gas barbecues came into vogue after I left home, so I think she must have tried this after she and Dad bought one. Her recipe was just the three liquid ingredients; I’ve added the other ingredients to complement the sweetness of the sauce with spicy undertones. You can decide the quantity based on how big your batch of sauce is, and how much spice you like.
- 1 part ketchup
- 1/2 part honey
- 1/4 part soy sauce
- garlic cloves, cut in quarters
- coarsely cut ginger
- minced red chile pepper or dried red chile flakes
- freshly ground pepper to taste
Mix together and let the sauce steep for a while so the garlic, ginger and chiles impart their flavour. You can keep this sealed in the refrigerator for a few days.