Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Applewood Smoked Barbecue Ribs

If you've ever wondered what the Neanderthals were thinking as they gnawed on the meaty portion of a woolly mammoth rib, you are not alone. I figured it out the other night. They were thinking about barbecue sauce. Sweet, smokey, spicy and absolutely perfect. My only hope is that as they thought about it, their ignorance served as some type of bliss, because once you've braised grass-fed ribs in homemade stock and garden tomatoes, smoked them over applewood chips, and slathered them with this slowly simmered sauce, you will feel remorse for all who have never had the experience.

A few tips:
1. You may want to place a straw in your wine, because once you pick up a rib, you will not be able touch a hard surfaced vessel without a scene.
2. Wear a dark colored shirt or a slicker.
3. A die hard fan of cloth napkins for every meal, place a roll of unbleached paper towels in the center of the table for this meal.
4. Toast to the cave men and women who could only dream of such an experience.

This meal was put on by my friend Donna. I fell in love with her barbecue sauce. She granted me permission to pass it on to my lovely readers. Hang onto this one. . .

Donna's Sweet and Smoky Barbecue Sauce:
*1 Tbsp. Ume plum vinegar
*3 cups unfiltered, and unpasteurized apple cider
*1 Tbsp. tamari
*4 Tbsp. sorghum syrup, honey or molasses
*1 tsp. red pepper flakes
*1 1/2 Tbsp grainy mustard
*1/4 tsp. cumin
*1/4 tsp. ground ginger
*2 garlic cloves, pressed
*1/8 tsp chipotle chili powder

Begin sauce as the ribs are near the end of braising. Allow 45 minutes to 1 hour for reducing.

Place all ingredients in a small cast iron skillet over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. Allow to very gently simmer until reduced by half, and liquid becomes thick and sweet.

Applewood Smoked Ribs:
*3-4 pounds grass fed beef ribs (this would also work well with bison or pastured pork)
*sea salt and pepper for searing
*4 cups grass fed beef stock
*5 whole Roma or other small tomatoes
*1 chopped onion
*3 cloves garlic, whole
*2-3 cups applewood chips

Rinse and pat dry the ribs. Season liberally with sea salt and pepper. Sear each side of each rib in a heavy pot or skillet over medium heat to lock in the juices. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 275.
Place stock, tomatoes, chopped onion and garlic in a large roasting pan. Arrange the seared ribs in the liquid. Slow roast for 5-6 hours.

Meanwhile, soak applewood chips in a bucket filled with cool water.

Toward the end of roasting, start bed of charcoal. Remove ribs from oven. Once coals are glowing, place drained chips over coals to one side of grill. Place rack over top. Arrange ribs on rack, cover and smoke for about 1 hour.
Using a basting brush, begin coating ribs for last 15 minutes of smoking with the barbecue sauce. Remove from grill. Allow to rest before serving.
Place extra sauce in center of serving area.
Braising liquid can be skimmed and ladled over wild rice.


  1. Delish! I used it once for ribs as well.. nice sweet smokey flavour.

  2. I can vouch for that sauce recipe too. I used it on some venison earlier this year and it did the trick. I love the photos that imply Donna, like the rusty metal and such, even through there is no photo of the lady herself. People will just have to imagine her.