Grilled Pork Ribs with Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce

June 18, 2017

Who has a glut of rhubarb in their back alley? Or a neighbour who does? Every year I can’t get enough of the stuff—in pies, crisps and syrup for summery cocktails, but I always turn some into salad dressing (really!) and sticky-tangy barbecue sauce to brush on chicken or pork ribs. Because barbecue sauce is sugary by nature, it’s a great vehicle for all that tart rhubarb — if you don’t have access to any in the back alley, you can always pick some up at the store.

I like to precook pork ribs in the oven, on a rimmed baking sheet covered with foil, at 300˚F for 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender. This part can be done up to 3 days in advance—just keep them in the fridge. All you need to do is slather them with sauce and finish them on the grill, or in a 425˚F oven. All you need to round out your meal is a bundle of asparagus—I eat as much as possible at this time of year—and some new potatoes (perhaps some Little Potato Company new potatoes tossed with Highwood Crossing canola oil and butter, then roasted in foil packets on the barbecue, or larger thin-skinned potatoes, thinly sliced and scalloped with Sylvan Star Grizzly Gouda if you have the oven on. This is what summer tastes like.

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce

It’s so satisfying to make your own barbecue sauce — all you do is chop and simmer a few thick stalks of rhubarb, then add onion, garlic, maple syrup… all things sticky and savoury that make a well-rounded summer sauce. Bottle it up and share it with a friend, or store it in the fridge or freezer to slather on your ribs and chicken and burgers all summer long. It’s particularly delicious on pork ribs.

2-3 large stalks of rhubarb, chopped (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup water
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup pure maple or Roger’s golden syrup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider or rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. grainy mustard 

In a small saucepan, bring the rhubarb and water to a simmer and cook for 5-6 minutes, until the rhubarb is very soft. Pour into a bowl and set aside. 

In the same saucepan, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat and cook the onion for 3-4 minutes, until soft; add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer; cook for 10-15 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Puree with a hand-held immersion blender or cool and puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. Use as you would any barbecue sauce - on grilled meats, in baked beans or drizzled on burger.

- Julie 

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