Pork boneless back ribs. Pork country style boneless ribs, too. Oh, and a fantastic velvety, savory (and a little sweet) Woodchuck Summer Cider Blueberry Barbecue Sauce. Yeah, you know you want to taste them! All juicy and tender. Yes, let’s dig in.
Memorial Day is right around the corner! Are you planning your menus? I can’t say that I am yet. I’m always a last minute person. But Celebrations.com is holding a Virtual Memorial Day Potluck with appetizers, main dishes, side dishes, cocktails/beverages and desserts--so I’m sure you’ll find something that you’ll like! If you haven’t checked out Celebrations yet, you should! They have everything you’d need to think about for any celebration that comes up.
My contribution to the potluck is ribs--two kinds. We have the petite boneless pork back ribs, and the hefty boneless country style pork ribs. They’re priced reasonably, and kids love them, too. No bones to mess with. These ribs and the sauce I made got thumbs up from all four of my kids. They even wanted seconds!
The barbecue sauce is made with my favorite hard cider, Woodchuck. I used the Summer Cider for this sauce, which has a balance of cider and blueberry in it, so pairing it with fresh blueberries was a natural progression. The Summer Cider is seasonal, so if you can’t find it, go ahead and use any of the other varieties. The berries will still go beautifully with any of them. Let’s get to the recipes.
All Purpose Grilling and Smoking Rub
Makes about 1/2 cup, maybe a bit more.
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp Kosher salt
2 1/2 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp thyme
3 tsp Chinese Five Spice
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Mix all ingredients in a small airtight container or zip top bag. Rub on pork, chicken or beef before grilling or smoking. (If you don’t have Chinese Five Spice, you can make your own: Combine equal parts Szechwan (or black) pepper, star anise (or anise), cinnamon, cloves, and fennel, all ground.)
To use on ribs, sprinkle some of the rub all over the ribs, and rub it in with your hands. Let the ribs sit with the rub on for a couple of hours or overnight. In the fridge!
Woodchuck Summer Cider Blueberry BBQ Sauce
Makes 3 cups. Set aside two hours total for simmering the sauce!
1 tbsp oil
4 shallots, finely minced (about 1/2 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 (12 oz) Woodchuck Summer Ciders
2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen is ok, too)
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup rice vinegar (or cider vinegar)
2 1/2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp prepared horseradish
1 tbsp spicy mustard
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp cocoa
2 tsp chili powder (the seasoning blend, not plain ground chilies)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
In a medium sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until nice and soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the two bottles of cider and turn the heat up to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium high and simmer (a good bubbling action, but not a rolling boil) for about 25 minutes.
Add all remaining ingredients (blueberries through cinnamon). Stir well, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Keep it at a good simmer.
I don't have an immersion blender (I know! What am I waiting for?!) so I pureed the sauce in my blender. Do it in two batches. Hold a dish towel over the lid of the blender to catch any drips and also to hold the lid down. Puree half of the sauce for a few seconds until smooth, transfer to a bowl, and do the second half of the sauce, and add it to the already pureed sauce. It's really not as complicated as it may sound. Then again, if you have an immersion blender, it's even easier! Just get all the lumps out of the sauce--you want it velvety smooth.
Use immediately with your favorite grilled meats, or cool completely and store in the fridge.
- Don’t be scared by the ingredient list. It’s really very simple and comes together quickly.
- And homemade barbecue sauce? Hello! It’s fabulous. Your friends and family will all be impressed that you actually made it yourself, with no weird chemicals. This isn’t spicy, by the way. If you want, add some heat in whatever form you like.
To Cook The Ribs:
After you’ve rubbed the rub blend into the ribs and prepared the sauce, it’s time to cook.
We smoked the boneless back ribs for two hours total. They’re not very big, and rather small compared to the country style monster sized ribs! Cover with foil and set them aside while you wait for the other ribs to finish.
Smoke the larger country style ribs for 4-5 hours.
Get your grill ready--get the coals going and all that. When the coals ready to go, put all of the ribs on the grill and get some color and char on those babies. They don’t need much time, you’re just getting the flavor of the grill on them.
In the last few minutes, brush the barbecue sauce over the ribs, both sides. Use as much or as little as you like. We like a lot. When they’re done to your liking, remove from the grill and serve. You can serve some sauce on the side for dipping or drizzling over the top. We also do that.
Check out the other Virtual Potluck Dishes from the rest of the guests! And thank you to Celebrations.com for putting this party together!
Melissa at Celebrations: Buffalo Chicken Dip
Erin at Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts: Quinoa Salad with veggies and a lime, garlic cilantro dressing
Beth at Hungry Happenings: Patriotic Biscuits
Rowena at Aprons and Sneakers: Speck Skewers with Herb Mayonnaise and Grilled Mediterranean Aubergine Bundles with Provola