Saturday, 1 September 2012

Dr Pepper BBQ Ribs

I challenge you to find a phrase more wanktastic than, "hang-on guys, don't tuck in yet, I've just got to take a photo for my blog!".  Sends shivers down your spine, doesn't it?  Well then please accept that as an excuse as to why this photo is so shoddy.  We had some friends over for a BBQ and I just couldn't bring myself to fart around with the SLR when everyone was sitting there, several beers down, waiting to rip apart a much anticipated pig carcass. More than anything else, I can't close one eye, so the sight of me trying to squint down the viewfinder is best avoided.

Obviously this was two whole weeks back - technically a different season to where we are now - and it was still appropriate to sit outside in a t-shirt at 10pm.  We ate, we drunk those tiny stubby bottles of lager, we got bitten to pieces by mosquitoes - it was quintessentially British (although no pimms - I have not had a single fucking glass of pimms this summer, what are you all playing at?).

I actually made these for the first time a few weeks ago; spent several hours preparing them, thinking, 'Everyone's gonna shit themselves for these badboys', then, when we sat down to eat, realised I'd left the camera in the car and I blew a gasket. I'm not just massively lazy, we live in the city centre so my car is parked quite a way from our flat and it would have meant everything was stone cold by the time I returned. So, the aforementioned BBQ was basically an excuse to scoff these again.  Yes, they are that awesome.

People will probably be split into two camps when looking at the ingredients for these: half will think 'eh?' and the other will see it as pretty normal.  The latter have probably made or eaten a lot of BBQ food.  Or are American.  When I started to make these for our gathering, two of our guests were already present. I laid the ribs in the baking tray - nothing untoward there - then covered them in a bottle of DR Pepper.  They looked at each other, looked at Ben, then did a nervous look at their shoes, as if to say, 'Is she OK? Should we call someone?'. With each extra ingredient I added they were squealing with disbelief, "KETCHUP? HONEY? NO, WAIT WAIT, WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE?".  Yes, all that stuff goes in there.  A bit later on, our Canadian neighbours came over, gave the above selection a glance and shrugged, "yeah, standard ribs procedure".  Basically this recipe is pork + sugar + everything else in the house that contains sugar.  Don't forget to clean your teeth after.

You can do these in the oven just as well as on the BBQ, so don't panic that you've missed your chance.  It'll just take a bit longer and probably come out less charred.  I served with slaw (grated/sliced carrot, red cabbage, red onion plus a mix of natural yoghurt and mayo to dress) and corn on the cob (marinated an hour before in lime juice, chilli flakes and seasoning).

As a helpful piece of advise - if you have a BBQ with a lid, don't shut it. It will set on fire (more so than it's mean to), you'll burn the first lot of ribs to a crisp and your girlfriend will yell at you.

DR Pepper BBQ ribs

I've done this based on a 1.5kg of ribs, which will serve about 4 people. Scale-up or down as required. 

1.5kg pork ribs (if they don't have pre-cut ribs just ask your butcher to slice some pork belly into ribs and remove the skin)
1 tsp sea salt
2 litres of Dr Pepper
2 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks (or a small handful of cassia, which is a lot cheaper)
150g soft brown sugar
4 tbsp honey or maple syrup
100g tomato ketchup
3 tbsp brown sauce
2 tbsp tomato puree
2tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

Line two baking trays with tin foil, chuck in your ribs, and pour over 1.5litres of the Dr Pepper (split between the two trays).  Add the star anise, salt and cinnamon/cassia equally.  Cover with foil and roast for about 1.5-2 hours at gas mark 4, until cooked through.  If your oven is shit, like mine, you might want to swap the position of the trays half way through, so that both are equally done.  Once cooked, discard the liquid.

For your sauce, put all the remaining ingredients in a pan and simmer until it has reduced to a glossy, honey like consistency.  This should take about fifteen minutes.  If you find it doesn't thicken as much as you'd like, then mix a teaspoon of cornflour with some water until it's a runny paste, and add to the sauce as required. 

Now either dip your ribs in the sauce or paint it on with a pastry brush.  If you're continuing in the oven then place the ribs on a roasting rack, over a baking tray and up the temperature to gas mark 5.  Check and turn every ten minutes, basting with more sauce, for about an hour, or until they are as saucy (ooh err) and coloured as you want them. If you're doing them on the BBQ then you won't need to do them as long, as they'll catch pretty quickly, but try and get a couple of coatings and turn at least once.

Consume, with napkins to hand.

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