Saturday, February 20, 2021

Weekend Cooking: Smoky Sticky Pork Ribs

Whenever I read a book I always mark passages about food, books, Christmas or Paris which might then make it to be posted one day. Books don't have to be particularly foodie to have passages about food. Or particularly bookie to have passages about books. Or particularly Parissy to have passages about Paris, although generally they at least have to be partially set in Paris for that to happen.

Last week I read Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, which is a romance about what happens if the First Son of the United States happened to fall in love with a prince from Britain. It was a very entertaining read. There were a couple of passages that stood out, both of which related to both food, but also the time before the main character's parents got divorced.

Here's one of those passages:

Oscar may be the cook of the family, but Alex's mom was the one who grilled. It didn't always track in Pemberton Heights - his Mexican dad in the house diligently soaking a tres leches while his blond mom stood out in the yard flipping burgers - but it worked. Alex determinedly picked up the best from both of them, and now he's the only one here who can handle racks of ribs while Oscar does the rest.

The kitchen of the lake house faces from the water, always smelling like citrus and salt and herbs, and his dad keeps it stocked with plum tomatoes and clay-soft avocados when they're visiting. He's standing in fron of the big open windows now, three racks of ribs spread out on pans on the counter in front of him. His dad is at the sink, shucking ears of corn and humming along to an old Chente record.

Brown sugar. Smoked paprika. Onion powder. Chili powder. Garlic powder. Cayenne pepper. Salt. Pepper. More brown sugar. Alex measures each one out with his hands and dumps them into the bowl.

And then a bit later

They eat later that evening, big piles of elotes, pork tamales with salsa verde, a clay pot of frijoles charros, ribs. Henry gamely piles his plate with some of each and eyeballs it as if waiting for it to reveal its secrets to him, and Alex realises Henry has never eaten barbecue with his hands before.

Alex demonstrates and watches with poorly concealed glee as Henry gingerly picks up a rib with his fingertips and considers his approach, cheering as Henry dives in face-first and rips a hunk of meat off with his teeth. He chews proudly, a huge smear of barbecue sauce across his upper lip and the tip of his nose.

That last line is why ribs are something that I generally wouldn't order in a restaurant.

It just so happens that a couple of our kids are coming for dinner tonight and we are going to have barbecue, but not this kind of barbecue.

I have posted before about the differences in language and meaning which occurs between English speaking countries.

If my understanding is correct, then in some parts of the US what is described above is definitely barbecue whereas my definition of barbecue is more along the lines of grilling. To me to grill something is to put it under the grill section in the oven, which I think in the US would be called broiling. Fortunately we don't call anything broiling as far as I know! Of course, in our house, there is also a difference between a barbecue and a braai (the South African version of barbecue). Whilst the tools and equipment are similar, there are some differences between what you cook. Even just thinking about the braai we had when we were there has my mouth watering at the thought of really thick cut bacon being braaied - something I haven't had here. I have, however, had normal thickness bacon cooked on the barbie with eggs for breakfast. Anyway, I digress.

Last year we were given a slow cooker/pressure cooker combo which has been one of most successful gadget acquisitions. We have used it a quite a lot, which is good compared to those gadgets that you have to buy and then they sit in the cupboard unused. One of the recipes that we have cooked quite a lot is one for pork ribs. It  comes from a book that we picked up quite randmoly but which we really enjoy cooking from. It gives you the recipes for cooking something either in the slow cooker or in the pressure cooker so you can decide which method suits you onthe day you are going to make it. So handy.

The actual recipe in the book includes a Cheesy Coleslaw, which we haven't yet made from scratch. Last time my son made this recipe we bought a pre-packaged coleslaw mix but he still added in the cheese. What a revelation that was!

Smoky Sticky Pork Ribs

2kg (4lb) American-style pork ribs

1 1/4 cups (310ml) water

3 cloves garlic crushed

1 cup (280g) barbecue sauce

1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice

1/4 cup (55g) firmly packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Cut pork ribs into pieces that will fit into the pieces that will fit into the pressure cooker.

Combine ribs and the water in a 6 litre (24 - cup) pressure cooker: secure lid. Bring cooker to high pressure. Reduce heat to stabilise pressure; cook for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Preheat grill (broiler)

Release pressure using the quick release method; remove lid. Drain ribs; combine with barbecue mixture. Place ribs, in a single layer, on oiled wire rack over large shallow baking dish filled with 1cm (1/2 inch) water. Grill ribs about 8 minutes or until browned, turning halfway through cooking time, basting with remaining barbecue mixture.

Weekly meals:

Sunday:  Fancy Valentine's dinner
Monday: Pork chops, mashed potato, broccoli and carrot.
Tuesday: Mince fajitas
Thursday: Family dinner
Friday:  Bread rolls, chicken, coleslaw

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.


  1. I don't use our BBQ much, unless it's summer, and people are coming who can help with it. However I do love my ribs in the pressure cooker, then slathered with BBQ sauce and topped off under the broiler for a few moments.

  2. You are definitely right that American regional barbecue recipes vary a great deal from the point of view of the local barbecue lovers, though there's a pretty general agreement about the basics.

    be safe... mae at

  3. Hi Marg! This is such a clever idea. I love it!! I am making a note here and will try to take part somewhere.

    PS: In my opinion, barbeque (braai as we call it in Afrikaans. Sure your husband will actually know the word) is definitely grilling.

    Happy cooking and reading this weekend!

    Elza Reads

  4. I enjoy reading food passages in novels too, I always bookmark the page. It's been so long since I made ribs, I think it's time to do that. Have a good weekend.

  5. I like your idea of highlighting passages about food while reading. I often go back and can't find them again when I want to do a post.

  6. The ribs sound great, but I really must keep an eye out for the cookbook. That's funny I have things I won't eat in a restaurant, for fear of embarrassing myself...nothing worse than food on your face. We have started eating more cole slaw, but never with cheese, I guess I will have to add some. Have a great week ahead!

  7. My husband loves ribs so I make them in the slow cooker. Cheesy coleslaw intrigues me.

  8. I'm going to have give those ribs a try. Ribs in the pressure cooker is a game changer! So funny that you too have food you don't order in restaurants -- ribs is one of them for me, too, as is chicken on the bone. Way too hard to eat neatly in public. LOL

  9. Even in different parts of the U.S. people understand different things when you say you're going to eat barbecue. Where I grew up, in the south, we mean something that has barbecue sauce or a rub, a spicy, vinegary, sometimes slightly sweet seasoning, often cooked on a grill, which is what you are calling a barbecue. My favorite kinds of barbecue are grilled chicken legs with a Memphis barbecue sauce, slightly sweet, and pulled pork on a bun with North Carolina barbecue sauce, very vinegary.

  10. Lots of Weekend Cooking posts in the link-up today! I'm late, as usual. Macaroni and cheese and coleslaw are traditional sides in Southern-style (US) barbecue, so Cheesy Coleslaw combines the two! I never ate barbecued ribs before my husband introduced me to them. I think my mother avoided fatty meats when I was growing up, so I did too. I like barbecued ribs now, but we don't have them often!

  11. I like your idea of marking the passages. Off late, I have started to note down when I wear my foodie glasses and read. Anyways, loved the tips about different styles. Also, the pork ribs have come out nice. Yum!