Do-Ahead Cider Ribs

I‘m furiously trying to wrap up about six deadlines to clear my schedule for our vacation next week, but I had to leave you with this recipe for ribs.

I served up a mammoth platter of sticky, cider-braised, barbecued-finished ribs to friends at our recent Canada Day party. And they were a massive hit. And it was my first time to ever – ever– prepare ribs. So I’m here to tell you, this is not only a great recipe for entertaining, but it’s also one for the novice rib cook.

Along with the rib recipe, I’ve included a peek at our menu for the party. It was super easy to pull together; keep reading and you’ll see why.

First off, a big thanks to my friend Tim for capturing these photos of our spread. I was busy shaking up Bloody Caesars for my friends and didn’t touch a camera the whole evening.

So, I asked guests to bring salads and I prepared three main dishes: two cold and one hot off the grill. I boiled a big pot of sweet corn out on the patio with a propane burner.

Mains, salads and corn – that was our feast!

A day in advance, I prepared my Black Pepper Beef Filet with Horseradish Cream (I hope this one is on your must-make list for summer entertaining) and sliced it thinly just before the party. So simple, and a great option to have for those who don’t like fish.

The morning of the party, I roasted off a large filet of salmon and presented it on a platter with loads of herbs, sliced lemon, cold boiled eggs and a jar of tzatziki. A homemade aioli would also be delicious here, but I was going for very simple. And yes, I totally bought that tzatziki.

And then there were ribs! I’ll get to those in a bit.

Danny served up his homebrew on tap, which was very popular, but I started folks off with a classically Canadian Bloody Caesar. After a veeeery wet Saturday (the official Canada Day) our party day was hot and sunny, and cocktails on the patio felt absolutely glorious.

As always, my guests delivered the most amazing selection of salads (yes we do co-ordinate a bit on a Facebook event page) including pasta, potato, cucumber, broccoli, kale and the super creative Canadian lentil & feta salad in the photo above. I adore lentils in a salad, like this Bacon, Lentil & Tomato (BLT) Salad from the archives.

Back to the ribs!

I wanted to serve a classic barbecued main dish, but I didn’t want to have to stand by the grill and watch the protein closely or have to think about even cooking. These ribs are first braised in the oven – in a maple syrup and apple cider sauce that is as Canadian as they come – so they are fully cooked when they hit the grill and only need to be reheated. They picked up some smokiness from the charcoal and were fall-off-the-bone tender, like all great barbecue should be.

I based my version off of a fantastic recipe out of Olive magazine, one of the many UK mags I brought back with me from London. It promised a freezer-friendly dish for a stress-free barbecue and it definitely delivered. I think the time in the freezer contributes to a more tender and flavourful result.

We’re kind of into ribs now. How do you feel about this barbecue specialty? My kids are all huge fans, so I guess this recipe will be on repeat throughout the summer.


Do-Ahead Cider Ribs
5.0 from 1 reviews
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Recipe type: Dinner
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Total time:
Serves/Yield: Serves 6
The ingredient list is quite long for these ribs, but the flavour is well worth the effort! And once you gather the ingredients, the hands-on time is short. Recipe adapted from Olive magazine.
Ingredients
For the brine
  • 1.5kg (3lbs) pork rib racks
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar, such as muscovado
  • 2 Tbsp fine sea salt
  • 1Tbsp english mustard powder
  • 1Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 2 bay leaves
For the sauce
  • 400g canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 500ml apple cider (hard cider not fresh pressed)
  • 1 star anise
Instructions
  1. Place the ribs in a shallow roasting pan. In a food processor, whizz all of the dry brine ingredients, except the bay leaves. Pour over the ribs, tear over the bay leaves, and rub in. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
  2. Heat the oven to 325F.
  3. Lightly rinse the dry brine from the ribs and return to the roasting pan. Whizz all of the sauce ingredients, except the star anise, in a food processor. Pour the sauce over the ribs, add the star anise and cover the pan tightly with a double layer of foil.
  4. Cook in the oven for 2.5 hours, basting regularly, then remove the foil and cook for a further 30 minutes to reduce the sauce.
  5. Cool the ribs completely, then transfer them into freezer bags, along with the sauce and freeze. To defrost, leave in the fridge overnight.
  6. To finish the ribs, heat a grill or barbecue to high and put the ribs directly onto the barbecue on indirect heat. Grill for 15-20 minutes, carefully turning occasionally. When ribs are heated through, pile into a serving dish.
  7. Serve hot, topped with grilled garlic scapes or grilled green onions, if desired.
Notes
I used hard cider for this recipe but it would also be just as good with fresh pressed apple cider.

All photos by Tim Chin

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. Hi Aimee! Being from the American south, I am very partial to ribs myself. If you really want to get into ribs, you should get a smoker and smoke them. Far and away the best way to cook ribs. I have a small portable electric smoker and it is soooo easy to operate. Although it does take an afternoon to smoke ribs, it is well worth it. Masterbuilt makes the smoker I have and they have an identical propane one, too. Check it out if you are so inclined.

    • Peg, thanks for the tips. I have had southern barbecue and it is in another category altogether. I think i need to plan for a smoker. 🙂

  2. Sandra M says:

    Do you think this would work equally well with beef ribs (same cook time etc.)? I’d love to try it!

    • I haven’t tested this recipe/method with beef ribs, so I am hesitant to give advice, Sandra. But if you are feeling brave enough to try, please let us know how it goes!

  3. Sandra M says:

    Another quick question or two…when you say, “tear over the bay leaves” I’m not sure what you mean? And also does it work equally well to skip the freezing and just move them to the BBQ grill from the oven? I’m a rib novice…I did instant pot ribs one time and while they were tasty there was no way to grill them – they were falling apart in a major way from the IP so we didn’t get the grilled goodness, it was more just a braised meat. What I want is to end up with something like you made!

    • Oh I just mean crush them slightly in your hand and then toss them in.
      Skipping the freezing works! I would move them directly to the grill, no problem.

  4. We do our ribs this way, too, with great results. I read in the Cooks Illustrated Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook that you can precook low’n’slow then broil/bbq chicken wings & drumsticks the same way… on my to-do list this summer to try!

  5. The photo of that little girl…precious.

  6. I’ve never made ribs before but it looks like it is a winner and impressive!

  7. Your dish look so delicious! I’ve never tried making it before, but after reading your recipe I feel like I have to. Thank you for sharing!

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