Maple and Apple Flavored Pork Ribs: It’s Rib-Tickling Good!
“…The intoxicating scent of fruit woods wafting through the air…as smoke lightly kisses a pork shoulder for hours until it has turned…into a savory, achingly tender cut of sheer deliciousness…” – Bobby Flay, Barbecue Addiction
Summer is on its way to a gracious exit but the sudden onset of humid temperature the past week feels like Mother Earth has reserved a memorable last hurrah. Over the weekend, for instance, the storm clouds suddenly drifted away which probably led “me to give in to my family and friends’ request to grill a meal. To paraphrase an old adage, “Now, there’s the rib!”
To my knowledge and based on media exposure, Bobby Flay seems to have set the benchmark when it comes to grilling food. And so when I decided to take the challenge of grilling ribs, I turned to Flay’s Barbecue Addiction, a book which I got for Father’s Day. After trying some of his recipes, I’ve also ventured into coming up with my own but adhering closely to his suggestions. For example, with the exception of the maple apple barbecue sauce, most of the ingredients and directions for the barbecue rib recipe below were adapted from his own recipe, Grilled Rack of Pork with Sherry Vinegar Barbecue Sauce. I’ve tried this recipe twice and on both occasions, my family and friends said that the ribs were masarap (delicious), with enough juice and flavors oozing from the meat. But as I mentioned earlier, I thought of tweaking the tomato-based barbecue sauce by adding apple sauce (since fall is just around the corner?) and maple syrup (to make it more Canadian)! 😀
Cheers to Summer 2014!
Preparing the Maple and Apple Barbecue Flavored Sauce:
½ cup apple sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup tomato ketchup
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp paprika
1 cup chicken broth
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 white onion, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat a saucepan in medium heat. Pour oil and sauté garlic and onion for a minute.
3. Pour broth, ketchup, tomato paste, apple sauce, thyme, paprika and maple syrup and stir gently. Cook mixture until it thickens and when it is reduce in half (about 10-15 minutes). If necessary, add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Cool mixture completely before using.
*For barbecue rub ingredients, please refer to Grilled Rack of Pork with Sherry Vinegar Barbecue Sauce or Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction.
Cooking the brine and grilling the ribs:
1. Prepare the ingredients. Wash the pork ribs in cold, running water.
2. To make the brine water, mix 8 cups of cold water with brown sugar, chopped onions, peppercorn, mustard seeds, fresh or ground thyme, and salt in a pot. Stir the mixture until the salt and sugar dissolves in water. Cool the brine completely before adding the pork ribs.
3. Cover and refrigerate the ribs in brine for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours. Bobby Flay explains that the brine ensures that the pork is moist and flavorful.
5. Since I use charcoal, prepare the barbecue grill in advance. I try to do this at least 20-30 minutes before grilling. Check if the center of the grill has an even layer of charcoal and the outer edges of the grill have less charcoal for indirect grilling. Also, the best advice I got from Flay was never use lighter fluid but to use a chimney starter instead.
6. Once the grill is prepared, brush the ribs with canola oil and rub with the spices then sear the pork on both sides over high heat about 5 minutes per side. Wait for each side to form a lightly golden brown crust.
A word about flare ups: Because there is a tendency for fats to drip on the charcoal bed which can serve as fuel for flames, one needs to be extra careful. To avoid flare ups, make sure that your grills are clean and free from fat. Also, before grilling, trim the ribs off excess fat. When flare ups happen, carefully move the ribs (if you can) to the cooler side then cover the grill to extinguish the flame. Always have a dry chemical fire extinguisher handy. Worse comes to worse, call 9-11.
7. Move the pork ribs to the cooler side of the grill for indirect heat, brushing with the barbecue sauce every 5 minutes and do the other side of the rib as well. The meat should instantly register 140‘F, which according to Flay, takes about 30 minutes.
8. Remove the ribs from the grill, tent loosely with foil and let rest for 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!