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Local Flavor

Finger-lickin' good ribs — 4 ways

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Country-style barbecued ribs are delicious and easy, especially when made in the slow cooker. 

When you think of summer, the thought of barbecued ribs comes into mind. With Father’s Day this coming Sunday, what could be more appropriate than a platter of gooey, sticky, barbecued ribs? When choosing the type of ribs you would like to prepare, it is helpful to know the difference in the kinds of ribs that are available.

“Baby back” ribs are not from a piglet, but are called “babies” because of their small size. Coming from the upper ribs attached to the pork loin, they’re lean, juicy, and meaty — and ideal for everything from roasting to smoking. The “St. Louis style” spareribs are found by the belly and have that name when the rib tips and the skirt are removed, forming a flat, fatty rectangular rack that requires less cooking time — perfect for browning in a pan first.

“Country-style” ribs are not really ribs at all. They come from the shoulder end of the loin and are sold individually, so unless they are braised, they usually require a fork and knife for eating. All pork ribs have a membrane, or tissue attached to the underside which should be removed before cooking for the best flavor and texture. To remove, slide a knife under one edge and wiggle to loosen before grabbing the edge with a paper towel and pulling it off. When preparing any of the ribs, you can add more flavor by pressing a rub onto the meat and letting it set for a short time or overnight in the refrigerator.

Barbecued country-style ribs

Using the slow-cooker to prepare ribs is convenient and easy, especially if you are entertaining and have several items to prepare. Country-style ribs are very meaty and usually quite thick. If necessary you can use a purchased barbecue sauce rather than making your own.


3 to 4 pounds country-style pork ribs

½ cup brown sugar

1 (12 oz.) jar chili sauce

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon hot sauce


Remove excess fat from ribs if they are extra fatty. Heat fry pan; spray with non-stick spray. Add ribs and brown on all sides. Pour a layer of sauce in the bottom of the slow-cooker; add ribs. Pour sauce over ribs, saving ½ cup of sauce for later use. Cover. Cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours. Serve ribs with extra sauce if desired. Source: Adapted from “Fix-It and Forget-It Recipes for Entertaining,” Phyllis Pellman Good & Dawn J. Ranck.

Grandpa’s zesty spareribs

On the Sterling Highway going across the Kenai Peninsula, you will find Jim and Cindy Nelson’s Kenai Riverfront B&B/RV Park. They prepare recipes handed down by Grandpa Nelson who worked as a camp cook for the Civilian Conservation Corps in northern Minnesota in the 1930s and '40s. His recipe for spareribs is one of their favorites.

Servings: 8 to 10

Ingredients for ribs:

1 to 2 racks of spareribs, cut individually or in pairs

2 to 3 whole lemons, unpeeled, washed and thinly sliced

2 to 3 large sweet onions, thinly sliced

Ingredients for sauce:

2 cups ketchup

⅔ cup Worcestershire sauce

1½ teaspoons chili powder

1½ teaspoons salt

2 heavy dashes Tabasco hot sauce

2 cups water


Place ribs in shallow roasting pan or two, meaty side up. Cover with a layer of sliced lemons, then a layer of onions. Roast in a very hot oven (425 degrees) for 30 to 45 minutes, being very careful not to burn the lemons or onions. Combine sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over the ribs in the roasting pans or transfer the ribs to a slow-cooker or Dutch oven and cover with sauce. Continue baking at 350 degrees or in a slow-cooker. Baste the ribs occasionally. Add more water if the sauce gets too thick. Cook until meat is tender and pulling away from bone. Source: “New Roadhouse Recipes” from the Editors of The Milepost.

Chinese spareribs

If you are looking for ribs with a sweet and sour flavor, try this recipe. It is started a day ahead with the ribs marinating overnight so they absorb the flavor.

Servings: 4

½ cup dark corn syrup

½ cup pineapple juice

¼ cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sherry

2 teaspoons ground ginger

½ teaspoon dry mustard

⅛ teaspoon garlic powder

4 pounds lean spareribs, separated


Mix all ingredients except ribs. Pour in large dish. Add ribs, cover and marinate overnight in refrigerator. Drain ribs and reserve marinade. Place in shallow baking pan and cover. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Remove ribs; discard fat from pan and return ribs to pan. Return to oven and bake for 30 minutes more, basting frequently with marinade and turning as needed. Source: “Apple-hood & Mother-pie, Handpicked Recipes from Upstate New York,” The Junior League of Rochester.

Barbecued ribs

Fire up the grill and enjoy this recipe for ribs which was submitted to the cookbook by Ryoko Kiyohara with the Naval Air Station Keflavik, the host Command for the NATO base in Iceland.


4 pounds pork spareribs/baby back ribs

¼ cup ketchup

¼ cup molasses

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon ground ginger


Place the ribs overlapping slightly in a 12 x 17-inch roasting pan and add ½ cup water. Bake, covered with aluminum foil, in a 350-degree oven for 1½-2 hours, until tender. Shortly before the ribs are finished baking, combine ketchup, molasses, soy sauce, garlic, dry mustard and ground ginger in a 1- to 1½-quart pan. Stir over medium heat until sauce is hot, and set aside. Drain ribs and discard liquid from roasting pan. Brush ribs on all sides with sauce. Place ribs on a lightly greased grill 4 to 6 inches above a solid bed of medium-hot coals. Cook and turn ribs, brushing with remaining sauce for about 10–15 minutes, until well browned. Cut ribs between bones and serve. Source: “66 Degrees N, Land of Fire and Ice Cookbook,” Compiled by the Keflavik Officers’ Spouses’ Club and Dedicated to the Keflavik Community.

Bernie Mason writes the Local Flavor column for Lee Montana Newspapers. She was a Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.


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