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Spare Ribs With Pomegranate Glaze

I am a firm believer in the Holy Trinity of Barbecue: pulled pork, brisket and ribs. The first two are all about the meat, and I am quite a purist with my opinion that these two should not be messed with. Actually they can be done without any spice rub at all and still taste fantastic, as long as they are made by a good pitmaster. This is also the reason why you will probably never find them here on the blog. There are plenty of barbecue resources out there that tell you how to make them properly. There is no need for yet another one.

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Ribs are a bit different. The ratio of surface to volume is very high, actually the meat consists more or less completely of “surface”. Because of this the seasonings have a much stronger impact than with the other cuts. So if you want to get fancy with your barbecue, pork ribs are the perfect canvas to paint flavours on.

I don’t use fruit very often in cooking, but pork matches well with a lot of fruit so I gave this slightly exotic twist a try.

Ingredients (exact amounts depend on the size of your ribs):

For the rub:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Paprika powder (mild or spicy)

For the glaze:

  • 1 pomegranate
  • Sugar

Preparation:

Preheat your barbecue to 90 to 100 degrees. You can use the oven too, but proper BBQ is always better.  If you have a smoker, you might want to use hardwood from fruit trees like cherry, plum or apple. With more “robust” woods like hickory or mesquite there is a risk of overpowering the subtle fruit aromas of the glaze.

Remove the membrane from the bottom side of the ribs and lightly rub in the spices from both sides. I never pre-mix my rubs and I never measure the ingredients. Variation is part of the barbecue fun, at least for me. In a professional or competitive setting this is of course different.

For the glaze, remove the seeds from the pomegranate and collect them. This is a somewhat messy task, so better not wear your Sunday best. Give the seeds a few pulses with a blender so they can release the juice. Strain and collect the juice.

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100 ml pomegranate juice will be sufficient for a large rack of ribs. Mix 100 ml juice with 50 g sugar and heat in a small saucepan. Let simmer for a while until if has reduced by about half, then let cool down.

Smoke the ribs for 5 hours, then apply the glaze on the top side with a brush. Smoke for one more hour at 20 degrees more and serve.

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