Racks of sticky, flavorful pork ribs are always a crowd pleaser. With this recipe, I infuse the meat with multiple kinds of flavor: First I add sweet, fragrant flavors with a rub of brown sugar and spices; then I grill the meat so that it chars slightly and the sugar caramelizes; and, lastly, I add some more sweetness (and make the meat extra tender) by steaming the ribs over a couple inches of apple cider.
The “silver skin” is a thin membrane that sits on the bone-side of a rack of ribs. If you don’t want to remove it from your rack of ribs, it’s fine to leave it on, but it will keep the rub and other flavors from penetrating into the back portion of the ribs.
Pork Ribs Steamed in Apple Cider
For the Rub:
- 2 cups light brown sugar
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground mustard
For the Ribs:
- 4 racks pork ribs
2 cups apple cider
In a medium bowl, mix together the ingredients for the rub; set aside.
Working with one rack of ribs at a time, place them on a large cutting board, bone-side up, and remove the silver skin: use a butter knife to loosen a corner of the membrane, and slowly pull it off of the meat.
Coat the ribs generously on both sides with the rub, pressing it into the meat. Set the ribs aside, Heat a grill until you have embers giving off medium-low heat. (Alternative heat a gas grill to medium low.) Grill the meat, bone-side down, until the outside is golden with some dark charred spots and the crust has caramelized slightly, about 15 minutes. Flip the ribs, and grill for another 15 minutes on the other side. Turn the heat to low (or transfer the meat to a cooler part of the grill), and let the ribs finish cooking, about 30 minutes.
Fit a large pot with a steamer and pour the cider into the bottom of the pot. Set the pot on the grill (or on the stove), and heat until the juice is steaming. Cut the ribs in half (or in thirds) so that they’ll fit in the pot and put them into the steamer. Cover the pot, and steam the ribs slowly, over low heat for 30 minutes.