I had this dish at a little hole-in-the-wall resort while on vacation up north and was very impressed. It was advertised as ribs, but came out as a huge pile of meat covered in sauce. I was afraid it would be the usual sickly-sweet, mushy mess you get off of a Sysco truck, but it turned out to be country-style ribs that had been smoked long enough to develop a nice bark, and then braised in a thin barbecue sauce until the meat just started to fall apart.
It was so good that I had to try to make it myself. I haven’t had the best luck in the past with true country-style ribs that are cut from the sirloin or rib end of the pork loin and can be a little gristly. So I went the do-it-yourself way and cut down a boned pork shoulder roast (AKA Boston Butt) into 1-inch slabs.
Season the ribs heavily on all sides with rub. Cover and stash in the fridge until the grill is ready.
Set your grill up for a raised direct cook at 250°F. On the Big Green Egg I didn’t use a plate setter to diffuse the heat, but did use an extender to raise the cooking grid up about 4 inches further from the heat.
Add your smoking wood (apple, in this case) to the grill and when the grill reaches 250°F and the smoke has turned blue, arrange the ribs on the cooking grate. Close the lid and let them cook, flipping every hour, until they reach 160°F internal (about 3 hours).
While the ribs are smoking, combine the barbecue sauce and cider in a medium saucepan. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the foaming has stopped and the sauce thickens up a little bit. Remove from the heat and reserve for later.
When the ribs hit 160°F internal, move them off to a flame-proof pan (I used the base of my tagine) and cover with half of the sauce. Turn ribs to coat and move the pan full of ribs back to the grill. Close the lid and let cook for an hour.
Check the ribs for doneness – they should be around 190°F internal and the meat should fall apart when you poke at it with a fork. If they are done, remove the pan full of ribs from the grill and let them rest for 15 minutes before serving. If they are not done, add more sauce as needed and return them to the grill until they are done. Serve with the remaining sauce on the side.
I really liked the taste of these ribs. Thinning the sauce with the cider let it soak into the meat while cutting the sweetness and giving it some great apple flavor.
I was not at all happy with the tenderness of the meat. It had some nice bark, and had started to fall apart, but it had also lost a lot of moisture and gotten pretty tough. I was looking for more of a baby-back-ribs-meet-pulled-pork texture. Next time I think I’d wrap them in a couple of layers of foil rather than letting them sit uncovered in a pan.
Three ounces of rib meat is 387 calories and 10 Weight Watchers points. Ouch! Obviously a special occasion treat.