I have seen a number of recipes for barbecue sauces and marinades utilizing Dr Pepper soda as the sugar base and frankly I have shrugged them off or chalked them up as a gimmick recipe. Then one day, last Wednesday to be exact, I had dinner at this fantastic restaurant while traveling on business and lo and behold on the menu were Dr Pepper ribs. Fried Dr Pepper ribs at that. Well since my per diem was covering the expense, I proceeded to investigate this savory culinary cousin of the 7 Up pound cake, and Rice Crispy Treats. I trust that you can guess how my story ends considering the title of this recipe. Yes I loved them. In fact they may have been the best ribs anyone, anywhere has ever prepared. Maybes it’s those 23 mystery flavors kicking in. OK maybe I am getting a bit carried away but these ribs are like no other you have eaten.
This recipe is my attempt to recreate the magic and damn it, I nailed it. Nothing beats baby backs for best results but you can use spare ribs as well. If you do opt for spare ribs be sure to cut away the soft bone brisket to make them St Louis style. Don’t know what I mean by cut away the brisket? No worries, just ask your butcher to trim them for you.
For the ribs and rub
- 2 full racks pork spare or baby back ribs, silverskin removed
- 4 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 1 tablespoon herbs de provance
- 2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (substitute brown sugar)
- 1 can of Dr Pepper
- 2 cups peanut oil
For the Sauce
- 2 cans Dr Pepper
- 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce (found in the Asian sections in most super markets)
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 3 – 4 drops Sriracha sauce
1. Mix the dry rub ingredients together and rub into the racks of ribs on both sides. Marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or preferably, over night.
2. Preheat oven to 325°F. Place the ribs on a wire rack in a roasting pan then pour a can of Dr Pepper into the bottom of the pan. Cover with foil and cook for 1 1/2 hours. At this point check to see if the meat easily pulls away from the bone. You will most likely need to cook them for about another 30 minutes but this all depends on your oven. Just make sure to get them nice and tender.
3. Meanwhile let’s make the sauce. Reduce the 2 remaining cans of Dr Pepper in a medium saucepan over high heat to about 1/2 cup. It will be just a bit syrupy. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining sauce ingredients.
4. When the ribs are done and somewhat cooled, cut into individual ribs and transfer them to a large bowl. Add about 1/3 of the sauce mixture and gently toss the ribs to coat them with the sauce. I say gently because if you were successful at getting them super tender, they will break apart if you are too aggressive with them now. Heat the peanut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Just hot enough to gently fry the ribs to crisp them up a bit. Fry each rib separately because they crisp up very quickly. About 5 – 6 seconds per side then transfer to paper towels to drain. Next return the fired ribs to the bowl and add another 1/3 of the sauce and gently toss again. Serve warm along with the remaining sauce for dipping.
Serves 2 – 4