Slow Cooked Dr Pepper BBQ Ribs
We love to throw BBQ's at NTC, it's one of the great bonuses with having a superb office in the summer. With midsummers is quickly approaching, and because it is a prime BBQ event, I wanted to take the time to share our secret recipe for Dr Pepper glazed slow-cooked BBQ ribs with you. It will impress friends, family, and colleagues and make you a midsummer rockstar, but it does take a little effort and time.
There are three things here that make it a huge success. First, a long marinade time ensures an embedded flavour profile. Second, 24 hours slow-cook delivers unparalleled softness to the mear. And then lastly, the finishing on the BBQ brings the sticky caramelized goodness that ribs should deliver on.
This recipe also includes the recipe for a Dr Pepper based BBQ glaze that gives a delicious cherry and vanilla flavour to your ribs. Making the sauce isn’t particularly hard, but it is an extra step that you might not want to do. You can substitute any BBQ sauce for this recipe. However, the king among ready-made BBQ sauce is undoubtedly Sweet Baby Ray’s. If there is one thing you don’t cheap out on, it is the BBQ sauce since it provides the finishing flavour for your ribs.
If you decide to make the Dr Pepper BBQ Glaze, you mustn’t use a diet version because the artificial sweeteners break down and taste bitter when cooked.
Please beware that the marinade for the ribs optimally takes 24-48 hours, but you can also just leave it overnight too, but results will vary.
The glaze is used to finish off the ribs on the BBQ and provide that delicious sweet smokey caramelized profile.
500ml Dr Pepper (Important - It must be regular Dr Pepper and not diet - see the note above)
250ml Tomato Sauce/Ketchup
75ml Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tablespoons Molasses (or dark brown sugar)
2 teaspoons Chipotle powder
1 teaspoon Liquid smoke (optional)
The chipotle is not strictly necessary, but it adds a lovely smokey spice to the glaze. If you prefer something not spicy, substitute it for one teaspoon of liquid smoke instead. You will still get that pleasant smokey flavour but without the kick. I would also recommend adding a little, even if you add the chipotle anyway.
To cook, simply add all of the ingredients into a pan and bring it to a boil. Simmer for around 20 minutes until sticky and thick.
Then set aside, leave to cool and bottle for later.
This part is for what you rub onto the meat both before the pre-cook of the ribs in the oven, and for adding before finishing them on the BBQ. It’s often good to make too much of this because the leftovers don’t go bad, and quite often, you might run out.
300 grams Molasses (or dark brown sugar)
3 tablespoons Smoked Paprika
5 tablespoons Paprika
3 tablespoons Onion Powder
2 tablespoons Garlic Powder
2 tablespoons Ground Blank Pepper
1 tablespoon Chili (totally optional and depends on the people eating - less can sometimes before)
1 tablespoon Ground Black Cumin
½ tablespoon Cinnamon
3 teaspoons Celery Salt (or ordinary salt if you can’t find it)
Important! There are two types of cumin, and they have different flavour notes. Typically, in Finland, you will only find black cumin in Asian supermarkets. If you can’t find it you can just leave it out. Normal Finnish cumin tastes very different and should not be used, and if it is the only one you can find, just left out instead.
Mix all of the ingredients and make sure there are no big lumps of sugar that remain. Once finished, put in an airtight container for later use.
The marinade is an essential part of the process, and for best quality results, it can not be skipped.
500ml American style mustard (Finnish mustard is ok too, but make sure it is the weak version)
100ml Dr Pepper
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
Mix all of the ingredients just before you start the marinade process.
This part of the recipe is split into three stages because there are three parts to the process. The marinade. The slow cook. The BBQ cook.
4 Racks of Pork Ribs
Cling film / Plastic wrap
All of the marinade
Coat all of the ribs in the marinade, be excessive and really rub the marinade into the flesh of the ribs to make sure it gets everywhere.
When the ribs are completely covered in the marinade, wrap all of the racks of ribs together in cling film, twice. This prevents juices from heavily leaking. When they are wrapped in the cling film, put all of them into a plastic bag and then place them into the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours, but the best results require 24-48 hours.
Remember to take the ribs out of the refrigerator at least one hour before starting the slow cook, so they reach room temperature before they enter the oven.
The slow cook
Max 50% of the rub created earlier
The marinated ribs
Only start the slow cook 12-24 hours in advance of them going on the BBQ. The ribs should not get cold in between the slow cook and the BBQ cook.
Take off all of the plastic wrap. Coat both sides of the ribs with the rub you created earlier. Taking smaller portions of the rub from the primary container into a separate container doesn’t contaminate the main container with pork. Therefore, it can be used later if you don’t finish it.
Wrap each rack of ribs twice in tin foil. The foil helps sweat the meat and make it tender.
Stack the tin foil wrapped ribs on a baking tray and put them into the oven. Note that the tin foil will probably leak, so make sure the baking tray you put it on has edges to prevent a nasty mess in your oven.
Turn the oven on and up to 70˚C. Leave the ribs in the oven for 6 - 12 hours.
The BBQ Cook
The slow-cooked ribs
Rest of the pre-prepared rub
The Dr Pepper BBQ Glaze
Slotted roasting foil pans (these are optional but make cleaning the BBQ a lot easier)
One to two hours before you start cooking your ribs on the BBQ, take out the ribs from the oven. Leave them wrapped in the foil and cover in a [clean] tea towel for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the BBQ to as hot as possible.
Open the foil packets up a little. There will be lots of “juice”, mostly melted sugar and pork fat. Pour the juice into the glaze and mix well.
Remove the ribs from the foil entirely and cut each rack into smaller portions of 3-4 ribs.
Rub the ribs with the rest of the prepared rub again. If you are using the foil pans, put the ribs into the pans - be careful though, your ribs should be so soft by now that the meat will just fall away from the bones.
Start glazing the ribs a little, just enough to coat them lightly.
Put the ribs into the BBQ and turn down the BBQ to a low setting. The aim here is to get the inside of the BBQ really hot, but the direct heat really low.
Cook for around 10-15 minutes, turning and coating the ribs with the glaze every few minutes.
And we are done. Bon appétite!
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