Root Beer Ribs

Welcome to the intersection of two American classics: Fall off the Bone BBQ Ribs and Root Beer! As we normally do for ribs, we broke out our crock-pot/slow cooker since that particular apparatus is perfect for the “low and slow” cooking method that generates the most tender ribs (and the fact that we don’t own a smoker). For this particular rendition, we picked root beer as our primary braising liquid. Its natural acidity (4-4.5 pH) helped to break down the tougher tissues in the ribs over the cook time, and its earthy sweetness imparted the ribs with a nice subtle flavour.

As the ribs were cooking, we saw we still had a half a bottle of root beer and a large garden fresh tomato from my wife’s grandpa’s garden…so we figured, “Why not try our hand at fresh Root Beer BBQ Sauce?” The sauce came with no pressure though, as we had a backup bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s in the fridge ready to go in case my experiment crashed and burned. I am happy to report however that we did not need to progress to plan B, as the Root Beer BBQ Sauce turned out as we had hoped!!!

As a bonus (because we made the sauce from scratch…well, almost from scratch since we didn’t make the root beer), the process pictures take you through the life cycle of BBQ Sauce! From humble ingredient beginnings to the formative (thickening) years to its first job (slather) all the way to the consumption at the end.

Time: 6 Hours

Ingredients:

  • For the Ribs:
    • Ribs! We used a half rack of St. Louis Style ribs for two servings
    • 10 Ounces Root Beer
    • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
    • Spices for your rub.
      • Mine had Mustard Powder, Cinnamon, and Black Pepper
      • My Wife’s had Cayenne, Cinnamon, and Black Pepper
  • For the Sauce:
    • 1 Large Tomato
    • 10 Ounces of Root Beer (aka the other half of the 20 ounce bottle)
    • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
    • Cayenne to Taste
    • 1 Tablespoon of Corn Starch
    • 2 Tablespoons of Water

Method:

  • Rinse and pat your ribs dry, and then place them upside down on a large cutting board.
  • Work your fingers under the thin piece of connective tissue that is attached to the underside of your rack of ribs, and then pull it off. It is a little grotesque, but it will make your rib eating experience more pleasurable.
  • Flip your ribs back on the front, and cut the rack into whatever size portions you like.
  • Place your ribs in the slow cooker, and sprinkle on your desired seasonings.
  • Pour in your root beer and apple cider vinegar, and set the heat to low. Cook for about 5.5-6 hours.
  • About an hour before you are planning to eat, turn your attention to the sauce!
    • Rinse a large tomato, and puree it in a food processor/blender/Ninja. Then pour the puree into a sauce pan.
    • Add in your root beer (slowly so it doesn’t foam up too much), brown sugar, and cayenne.
    • Bring to a simmer, and stir occasionally for about 45 minutes.
    • Combine your corn starch and water in a small bowl, and stir to fully dissolve. Then, pour this into your sauce, and allow it to thicken for a minute or two before taking it off the heat.
  • Back to the ribs! When they’re done in the slow cooker/crockpot, line a baking sheet with a little foil. Carefully remove them (a spatula that can get under and support them is best so that they don’t accidentally fall apart during transport) from the slow cooker, and place them on your baking sheet.
  • Slather your sauce on, and stick them under the broiler for about 3-5 minutes to caramelize the sauce on top.
  • Plate, devour, and enjoy!

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