EASY lip-smackingly delicious barbecue pork ribs made in the oven. Rubbed with a spice mix, braised then finished with a homemade barbecue sauce. With a few little secret ingredients and tips. You can even make these ahead then finish them off on the BBQ!
This recipe is a reader request, in honour of Australia Day which is next Tuesday 26th January 2016! It’s a public holiday (of COURSE!) and it’s the anniversary of when the First Fleet arrived from England in New South Wales in 1788. Australia is such a “young” country!!
And with Super Bowl Sunday just around the corner and ribs being second only to chicken wings as America’s favorite Game Day food, I figure those of you in the US might like this too! 🙂
When it comes to ribs, my bar is pretty darn high. I was ruined after the first bite of barbecue from Meshack Bar-Be-Que Shack in Dallas, Texas. Off the beaten track, nowhere near any tourist attractions, definitely known as one of the best barbecue in Dallas, if not the best! It was a religious experience, my first real barbecue! (Australia does amazing food, but I’m sorry, there is nowhere with barbecue that compares to a real-deal-Texas-barbecue!!!).
Believe it or not, my brother actually has a smoker. Try as we might, and we have tried many times, we have never been happy with ribs we’ve made in the smoker. Great flavour, but always too dry.
Fact is, you need a serious smoker to make meltingly tender juicy ribs on a BBQ. And you need to stay up all night, lovingly stoking the hot coals and maintaining an exact temperature, to cook the ribs long and slow. Such effort!
And totally worth it. I am happy to pay good money for great barbecue!
But when I make it at home, this is how I do it – in the oven. It’s EASY, the ribs are beautifully tender, it’s packed full of flavour from a rub, braising the ribs in apple cider, then finished with a simple but really tasty homemade barbecue sauce.
The secret ingredient in the barbecue sauce is balsamic vinegar. Seriously, it’s amazing how much more depth it gives the sauce. I’ve tried quite a few recipes in my time, and this is one of my all time favorites. It’s a recipe from Animal Restaurant in LA that I found in Gourmet Traveller Australia. I use their sauce but my rub and cooking technique. 🙂
A key step here that infuses the ribs with extra flavour and ensures they don’t dry out is to braise the ribs in a little liquid. In this recipe, I use alcoholic Apple Cider (known as hard cider in the US), but I also use beer, apple juice or chicken broth so there are plenty of options. All are nice, but my favourite is Apple Cider because it’s crisp with a touch of sweet and has more layers of flavour than plain apple juice or broth.
As long as you get nice juicy, fatty ribs (which they typically are), it will be pretty hard to stuff this recipe up! Ribs are a tough cut of meat so they’re made for slow cooking until it’s nice and tender. It’s quite forgiving with the cook time, unlike some other types of proteins like poultry. So even if you cook it 30 minutes too long, it will still be juicy and delicious.
Oh, one last thing about these ribs! You can make it all in the oven or you can finish it off on the BBQ. I make it both ways – depends on the occasion. I’ve provided directions for both in the recipe below.
There is simply no way to look elegant eating ribs. Just accept you will have very sticky fingers, sauce smeared on your face and a huge goofy grin! -Nagi x
- 2 tsp paprika powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder (or sub with more onion powder)
- 1 tsp onion powder (or sub with more garlic powder)
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper
- 3-4 lb / 1.5 - 2kg pork ribs
- 1 bottle (~330ml/11oz) sweet alcoholic apple cider (hard cider) (See substitutions in Note 1)
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup tomato ketchup (or tomato sauce)
- 3/4 cup sweet alcoholic apple cider (hard cider) (See substitutions in Note 1)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 onion , peeled and cut into large chunks (easy to remove later)
- 2 tsp molasses OR more honey
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp Tabasco (optional) or cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper
Combine the Rub ingredients and rub onto the ribs (both sides). Set aside to marinate for at least 20 minutes, up to 24 hours. (Note 2)
Preheat oven to 170C/340F.
Spray large pieces of foil with oil (1 sheet for each rib), place a rib on the foil, fold up the edges to form a "boat" shape (see photo below).
Divide apple cider between the foil parcels. Seal foil packets, place on a tray. Bake for 2 hours, or until the meat is tender (or to your taste).
Remove ribs from foil, discard foil. Place ribs on the tray. Brush both sides generously with barbecue sauce. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until barbecue sauce is jammy and dark brown. Remove from the oven, brush with more Sauce.
Cut into individual ribs (if desired) and serve with remaining Sauce on the side.
Place all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes or until thickened. Adjust to taste: sweetness with brown sugar / honey, salt and sour with balsamic vinegar.
Remove onions. Use as per recipe.
1. You can substitute the sweet alcoholic apple cider (known as hard cider in America) with non alcoholic apple cider or any ordinary wheat beer (not dark beers like stouts, Guinness). The next best substitutes are apple juice or chicken broth/stocl. As a last resort, water can be used.
I use Rochdale Apple Cider. I love it because the flavour is so clean and crisp!
2. The barbecue sauce and braising in the cider adds so much flavour into these ribs that it's critical to marinate for a long time.
3. To make this on the BBQ, once the ribs have finished braising in the foil, remove from the foil then place in an airtight container. Store in the fridge until ready to cook. Heat the BBQ then sear the ribs to heat through. Turn the BBQ down to low, THEN brush generously with Barbecue Sauce and cook the ribs briefly on both sides. Remove and brush again with Barbecue Sauce. Rest for 5 minutes before serving.
4. The barbecue sauce recipe is adapted from this recipe from Gourmet Traveller Australia by Animal Restaurant in LA.