Who doesn’t love ribs? They’re the greatest picnic accouterment: they can be enjoyed warm, room temperature or cold and you can have one or five or ten and nobody is gonna look at you sideways. For the uninitiated, making homemade ribs is easier than you think, once you learn a few basic rules. Now that the weather is finally turning and grills are being pulled out and dusted off, we figured we would give you a solid tutorial so that you can add ribs to your growing “Social Distancing Lexicon” of recipes and techniques.
We decided to create a brine that uses a can of our Riesling Radler for sweetness instead of sugar to add even more flavor and complexity to the meat. We also figured we would provide a recipe for a Citrus Slaw that really compliments the tang of the BBQ sauce and the bubbly tartness of the Radler.
So let’s take this step by step.
The first thing you want to do is remove the membrane from the bottom of the rack of ribs. Many butchers (such as the fine gentlemen at Sheridan Fruit Co. will do this for you) but in case your rack still has the membrane, it is as simple as getting a thin knife under the membrane on the small side of the rack and then just gently pulling with your hand.
At this point, you could simply season the meat with salt and pepper and bake it, but what fun would that be? There are myriad ways to tenderize the meat and give the ribs a more complex flavor. Some people prefer a dry rub, but we have always found that if you are going to use BBQ sauce—which we are—that a dry rub can be very intense and often times fight with the flavors of the sauce.
That is why we prefer brine. A cursory google search will provide you with many different techniques, but here is ours.
3-4 T large flake sea salt
1/4 C cider vinegar
1 can of Underwood Riesling Radler
We first double up a clean non-scented garbage bag as we find this is the best way to evenly soak the meat. (We double bag it just in case there are any rips or tears.)
We then rub the meat down generously with the large flake sea salt, such as that made locally by Jacobsen Salt Company. Standard Kosher salt can be used as well. We then place the rack into the bags and add the cider vinegar and a full can of Riesling Radler. Securely tie off the bags and let sit in the fridge for 2-4 hours. We don’t recommend letting the rack sit overnight in the brine, as we have found long exposure to the salt and vinegar can often make the meat mushy, but we suggest trying different amounts of time to see what suits your taste best. Often sugar or honey is used in brine to balance the salt, but we felt the Radler did a perfect job.
Remove the rack from the brine, pat dry with a paper towel and then bake the rack for 3 hours at 275 degrees. This is a crucial step, as you cannot just throw the rack onto the grill, so make sure to factor in the appropriate time for this. When the meat is knife tender, let the rack cool. It can then be tightly wrapped and stored in the fridge for a day or two until ready to grill.
There are many great recipes for making your own BBQ sauce, ranging from the quite simple to the very involved, and we encourage you to try any and all of these. But for our money, we absolutely love the locally made Podnahs’s Sauce. This can be found in just about any local market- and what better time to help support a local restaurant? All of the Podnah’s sauces are delicious, but we felt the thick tang of their standard sauce would work best with the Radler and the Coleslaw.
Now it’s time to fire up the grill. But before you get too excited about slathering your rack with sauce, we recommend you lightly grill each side pre-sauce. This helps give the meat a little extra texture before the sauce starts to dry and caramelize.
Now you can take a pastry brush or firm spatula, and coat the rack with sauce. We recommend getting the grill quite hot and using some spray oil so your ribs don’t stick. Go light with the sauce at first, you can always add more as you go.
Keep turning the ribs frequently so they get a nice color without burning.
Once the ribs are fully cooked, set them aside to make your coleslaw.
1 1/2 C mayonnaise
2 T cider vinegar
1/2 t salt
1 T simple syrup
Zest of half a lime, half a lemon, & half a blood orange
Juice of half a lime, half a lemon, & one full blood orange
3 Qts of shredded green and purple cabbage and carrot
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Combine the top 6 ingredients in a bowl. Whisk until combined and set aside. This may make extra dressing, but that’s never a bad thing.
With a mandolin or sharp knife, shred the green cabbage, purple cabbage, and the carrot. Slice the red onion and mix together. Adding a 1/4 C at a time, pour the sauce over the cabbage mixture and mix well, making sure not to overdress so it doesn’t get too wet and mushy. Adjust for seasoning with extra salt and pepper if necessary.
Finally, when ready to serve, warm the ribs in the oven and add a fresh layer of sauce. Crack a few ice-cold cans of the Riesling Radler and you and your family are ready to roll. We will often serve this with baked beans and/or cornbread on the side as well. Just an option.
Bon Appétit and keep those #pinkiesdown.