Succulent Slow (Baby Back) Ribs with Thermomix
Inspiration: I started adapting a version of Alton Brown’s Baby Back Ribs’ recipe a few years ago when for reasons of frugality, I replaced wine with fruit juice. Over the years, these ribs have become the most requested meal at our house, and a most satisfying recipe to serve guests. It’s guaranteed there will be no leftovers, and every bone will be sucked clean.
Though at first glance the recipe appears long and tedious complicated, much of the prep is done on the day before cooking and this quickly becomes as easy to do as it is impressive — perfect for entertaining and festive occasions. It’s a very forgiving recipe once you’re familiar with these basic principals: the rub, the braising, the slow bake, and the glaze. There is room to play with flavors and I always recommend you do so.
This version is by now much altered from the original. By using molasses instead of honey, the flavour (and aroma!) is deeper and bolder, with a tip-of-the tongue sweet ‘n tart that’s in perfect harmony with the pork. It is such sweet & salty, sticky, fruity, tender and oh-so-succulent way to serve ribs. Using fingers instead of cutlery allows even the most rigid of guests to feel more relaxed and everyone enjoys themselves all the more.
Before Thermomix arrived in my kitchen the most time-consuming aspect of this recipe was the glaze reduction (Step #3 below). I have spent years stirring over a very hot stove performing this arduous routine for the ultimate payoff of such succulent ribs. But now Thermomix handles the reduction with expert precision and we are all able to enjoy these succulent slow ribs more often. It’s a favorite recipe for birthdays, Thanksgiving, and with the addition of dried or fresh berries, performs wonderfully as a new tradition for Christmas. The house will smell like never before, and your family will be enjoying these ribs before they even hit the plate.
Sometimes life is better when you slow down.
- 1.5 – 2.5 kg pork back ribs (Yes, insist on back ribs, aka baby back ribs. See notes below) about 2 kg is ideal (see note below about quantity)
- 2 large cloves garlic (or 3 smaller cloves)
- 1 piece fresh ginger, skin removed, (about 10 g)
- 50 g brown sugar
- 1 ½ Tbsp coarse salt (or 1 Tbsp regular salt)
- 1 Tbsp chili-garlic paste
- 1 tsp mustard (I use Dijon)
- 1 Bay leaf
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- large pinch clove powder
- large pinch mace
- large pinch cardamon
- 2 cloves garlic
- 200 g apple juice (see notes below to use wine or other juice)
- 20 g g red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 15 g molasses (or honey)
- handful of fresh cranberries or Craisins (optional, if serving for festive occasion)
- Add all the ingredients above (just the wet rub ingredients, not the ribs) to Thermomix bowl and process for 5 seconds/speed 5.
- Lay down one or two sheets of foil paper and a layer of parchment paper over this. Place half your ribs on the parchment, brush half the rub on ribs as shown in photos and wrap up the bundle. Repeat with remaining ribs in a second bundle. (About 1kg for each bundle is comfortable.) Refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.
- Begin this step about 3 hours before you plan to serve.
- Preheat oven to about 135ºC/275ºF
- Mince garlic for 5 seconds at speed 5. Open lid, use spatula to push garlic down sides of bowl.
- add apple juice, wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and molasses and cook for 5 minutes, Varoma temp. REVERSE speed 2
- Lay both packages of ribs on a baking sheet and open carefully along the top seam. Pour half the braising liquid into each pouch. (If using fresh cranberries or Craisins, distribute these evenly among the ribs) Close, and put in the oven to bake for 2.5 hours.
- After two to 2.5 hours of baking, remove baking sheet with rib bundles but do not turn off the oven.
- Carefully unwrap one end of each bundle. Using oven mitts, lift the bundle and slowly tilt to pour off the hot braising liquid into Thermomix bowl. (Be aware that as you begin pouring, the hot liquid will let off steam, so try to position your hands and arms to the side of your bundle, rather than directly above it as you pour.)
- Notice that baking (and depending on berries added) creates more liquid in the bundle than you started with. Keep bundles tilted over Thermomix until all liquid has drained out. (To make this easier, I place the Thermomix bowl down into an empty sink to receive the hot liquid. This way you don’t have to lift your arms so high while pouring.)
- Turn oven down to about 120ºC/250ºF. Close the bundles, and return to the oven to continue gently baking as you proceed with reducing the glaze.
- There will now be about 200-800 ml liquid in Thermomix bowl. Make sure measuring cup is NOT in the lid, and cook for 20-40 minutes on Varoma temp at speed 1. (the rate at which it reduces will depend on the amount of liquid in the bowl and the type of juice used.) Regardless of how long it takes, this is much easier than standing over the hot oven and stirring!)
- After braising liquid has reduced and thickened, remove tray of rib bundles from the oven. Open bundles and fold back the foil/parchment paper to completely reveal the ribs. Brush glaze on ribs and return to oven. Turn broiler on LOW and watch your ribs for a few short minutes so as not to burn the glaze.
- To serve, slice between ribs to create more manageable, smaller portions. Any leftover glaze can be used as dipping sauce. Goes well with a fresh, light, crisp salad or coleslaw.