New house, new barbecue, and a scraping of molasses at the bottom of the container equals these tender, juicy and full of flavour ribs.
I hardly ever use molasses and was starting to get tired of looking at an almost empty container, so I used it to brine the ribs, and then reduced it to make a dipping sauce. I usually use blackstrap molasses which is darker and not as sweet as other types of molasses; the cut up orange and apple juice added sweetness.
After a long bake in the oven, the ribs were finished off on the barbecue, basted with the reduced brine, and served with the remaining brine as a dipping sauce. Messy? Yes. Tasty? Yes.
First start the brine. This should be done at least 4 -6 hours before you start cooking the ribs.
Whisk together, until the salt and molasses have dissolved:
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
200 ml apple juice
Enough water to give 3 cups of liquid
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 orange, cut into chunks
2 bayleaves, broken into pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with the back of a knife
Place the brine into a resealable plastic bag, along with:
6 country style pork ribs
Remove as much air as possible from the bag, seal and refrigerate for 4 - 6 hours.
Heat the oven to 350F. Place an ovenproof dish large enough to hold the ribs and brine onto a baking sheet (to catch any drips).
Place the ribs into the dish, tucking the oranges between them, and carefully pouring the brine over the top.
Cover with foil.
Bake covered for 3 hours.
Remove the foil and continue to bake until the ribs are very tender, about another 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven, and take the ribs out of the liquid. Reserve the liquid.
Let the liquid sit for a few minutes, allowing the fat to rise to the surface. Carefully skim as much fat off the top as you can.
Place the liquid, along with the oranges, into a pan, and place onto the stove to reduce.
Reduce until it is thick enough to use as a sauce; I had about 1 cup of sauce.
Put the cooked ribs onto a hot barbecue to finish them off, basting with the reduced liquid, and turning them often, until they are crispy on the outside but still tender and juicy inside.
Serve the ribs, passing the extra sauce at the table. I used it as a dipping sauce, and served the ribs with grilled corn on the cob, and a grape tomato and avocado salad. Don't forget to have lots of napkins on hand!
- Any type of ribs can be used...I like country style ribs as they have more meat on them.
- Molasses is a by-product of sugar production, and the various types available (blackstrap, fancy, cooking) have different amounts of sugar in them. I prefer to use blackstrap as it has a more robust flavour, is not as sweet but is slightly bitter and nice and dark, giving baked goods such as gingerbread a lovely deep colour. The sweetness in molasses is not as obvious as in other sweeteners, but be aware that it does contain a reasonable amount of sugar.
- Cutting up an orange allowed the flavour and juice to become part of the brine. If you want a more intense orange flavour, add the zest before cutting the orange up.
- Use rum for part of the liquid if you like.
- If you have a smoker, the ribs can be smoked long and slow, basting often, until they are sticky and tender.
- Any leftover meat can be shredded and used on pizza, in wraps or sandwhiches, added to baked beans.