Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Barbecued Pork Ribs

I've had a hankering for ribs, so when my husband came come with a pack of pork ribs, I was one happy woman!!! But what to do with them?

Looking in the fruit bowl, there were 2 oranges, and an excessive amount of lemons and limes....citrus brine! Light and summery, quick and easy...

I juiced the oranges, 1 lemon and 1 lime and added some chili flakes and a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme leaves as well as 1 tablespoon of coarse salt, then topped it up with water until there was a total of 1 1/2 cups of liquid.

 I cut the ribs into sections of 3 ribs and placed them in a Ziploc bag.

 Placing the bag of ribs in a casserole dish ensures that if there are any leaks, they won't be all over the fridge. Nothing worse than raw meat juices contaminating other foods! What a waste and what a mess!

With the brine added to the bag, and as much air as possible pressed out, it was sealed up and left to brine in the fridge overnight.

Now for the cooking....the ribs needed more flavour than just the brine, a rub would do the trick. There was a small container of rub left from something else, I knew it was quite spicy and decided to use it up.

After being removed from the brine

The ribs were removed from the brine and placed on a tray, where they were rubbed on both sides with the spices.

With the rub

Not wanting the ribs to dry out during their slow cook on the grill, I mixed up a quick mist using the juice from another lime, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of rum (I had white, but would have preferred dark) and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Make sure that the sugar has dissolved before putting this into a spray bottle. This can also be gently basted on.

This all went into my BBQ spray bottle.

Onto the pre-heated grill, which was kept just below 300F. The 2 outside burners were lit and kept at a low flame, and the middle burner was off, so the ribs received indirect heat, cooking nice and slow. They were misted with the rum spray every 30 minutes, turned every hour, and after 3 hours had reached an internal temperature of 170F. 

This was all done in the morning, and the ribs were finished off for dinner. They can be prepared to this point a couple of days ahead, and kept in the fridge.

I made up a quick barbecue sauce for basting the ribs when finishing them off, feel free to use your favourite sauce. I sweated 1/4 cup of diced onion, 2 cloves of garlic and 2 teaspoons of cumin in olive oil, then added 1/4 cup tomato paste that was in the fridge, the remaining rum mist and about 1 cup of ketchup. The trick here is to use your taste and discretion to adjust the sweet and sour by adding brown sugar and apple cider vinegar until you reach the right balance for your tastebuds. I prefer it on the sour side. If it gets too thick, add a bit of water, rum or apple juice.

Preheat the grill to about 300F and put the ribs on, slather them with BBQ sauce, and turn them after about 10 minutes, slathering the other side. When they are heated through, they are ready.

Ribs finishing on the grill, with asparagus

 Serve them with extra sauce on the side and LOTS of napkins!

Some creative ideas for brines:

Keep in mind that whatever liquid you use, try and aim for a ratio of approximately 1/4 cup of salt to 4 cups of liquid. Other additions such as honey, brown sugar and herbs or spices are added to enhance the base liquid, make sure you taset your brine BEFORE adding the raw meat or fish.

Boneless meats or fish should brine for a shorter time than bone in meats, anywhere from 1 - 4 hours, depending on the size. Allow about 1 - 2 hours for a chicken breast.

  • Liquid substitutions for water - strong tea or coffee, beer, juice, buttermilk (great with chicken), apple cider.
  • For sweetness try brown sugar, maple syrup, honey or molasses.
  • Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, lemon or lime juice and zest, balsamic vinegar, hoisin sauce add a different dimension and depth.
  • Chopped fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, dill, parsley, tarragon work well because of their strong flavours.
  • Spices such as chili flakes, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, chipotle chiles.

A basic rub is a blend of coarse salt and brown sugar, with a mixture of spices. The sugar and salt should not overpower the flavour of the spice blends, but enhance it.

Common spices are paprika, ground cumin, dried and ground chiles such as ancho or chipotle, onion and garlic powder, cayenne pepper, chili powder.

The rub can be made up ahead of time and kept in an airtight container.

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