Homemade rhubarb bbq sauce and a simple spice rub will make these grilled pork ribs the hit of your next barbecue, and they’re easier than you might think to make. This recipe was sponsored by Smithfield, Walmart and the National Pork Board. As always, all recipes, ideas and content are my own.
Marc and I had the opportunity to experience Green Bay’s Gold Ribbin’ BBQ Fest last weekend, and I can’t even begin to tell you how inspired I was by the dedication of the pit masters and insanely good food we sampled. There was great food all around us. And, the smell. I was in barbecue heaven. I also had flashbacks of waitressing at a barbecue restaurant when we lived in Texas. I seriously love the smell of it.
After listening to all the barbecue experts talk about how easy pork is to grill, I came home ready to conquer my fear of grilled pork ribs. Seriously, a few of them even said, “As long as you don’t overcook it, you can’t mess pork up.” Did you know the recommended cooking temperature for fresh pork is between 145˚ – 160˚F? I try to stick with 145˚F unless I’m cooking ground pork. When cooking ground pork, I cook to an internal temperature of 160˚F. Since ribs cook for a really long time at a low temperature, they’ll reach a fully cooked temperature long before they’re done. No need to worry about temperature, just cook them until they’re tender.
So I immediately went to Walmart to pick up some of Smithfield’s extra meaty baby back pork ribs. Although, I didn’t know exactly what I was going to get until I stood in front of the meat case for almost 5 minutes. There were so many options, and the endless possibilities were running through my mind. I settled on the baby back ribs because they seemed like a classic choice, and I knew they would be versatile enough for recipes I might dream up.
By the time I got them home, I knew exactly what I was going to do. But first, I scoured the internet for a few tutorials on how to cook pork ribs before I came to the conclusion that they needed to be slow cooked in the oven (that being the underlying theme in almost every recipe I found). So I prepped my ribs with my favorite bbq dry rub before preheating my oven to 250˚F. If you don’t feel like making your own dry rub, you can definitely use store bought. The rhubarb bbq sauce will be doing most of the flavor work here anyway.
I slathered the dry rub on both sides of my two racks of ribs and put them in a roasting pan (the one I use for turkey at Thanksgiving) and baked them for four hours. During this time, I made sure that I had enough of my favorite rhubarb bbq sauce. If I didn’t already have some made, I would have had plenty of time while the ribs were cooking to whip up a batch. After that, I popped them onto the grill for about 15 minutes. I know it may seem a bit unnecessary, especially to anyone who hasn’t cooked ribs, but trust me. You want that smoky, charr, and only the grill can give that to you. It adds so much to the flavor.
These ribs turned out so well, that I might even join in fun and enter this recipe into the competition next year. The rhubarb bbq sauce pairs so well with the pork ribs. It’s all about the sweetness, and that was something I noticed at the event. The sweetness balances with the spices to make the meat taste unbelievably good. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Grilled Pork Ribs with Rhubarb BBQ Sauce
Yield 16 servings
For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups chopped rhubarb
- 1 cup chopped sweet onion
- Pinch of coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the ribs:
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup BBQ dry rub
- 2 slabs extra meaty baby back pork ribs
For the sauce:
- In a large skillet or saucepan, heat olive oil to medium-high. Sauté rhubarb, onion and pinch of salt, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and rhubarb has softened - about 10 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before pureeing with a food processor or blender (I used my immersion blender and the cup it came with).
- Transfer sauce to an airtight container and keep for up to 1 week.
For the ribs:
- Preheat oven to 250˚F.
- Cut slabs in half to make grilling easier (optional). Pat ribs dry with paper towels and cover with dry rub. Bake ribs for 3 - 4 hours.
- When ready, preheat grill to high. Grill ribs, meat side up for 5 minutes, basting with sauce at least once.
- Flip ribs and grill for an addition 5 - 10 minutes, basting as desired before removing from grill. Baste one more time before serving ribs with any remaining sauce.