Sweet 'n' Spicy Ribs with Apple Cider Dipping Sauce

So you want to make ribs but you don't have a smoker? This flavorful recipe with an apple cider dipping sauce can easily scale up to make a crowd pleasing cook-out. 

This post goes out to Aaron McCargo, Jr., my favorite winner of Next Food Network Star, and the only celebrity chef whose recipes have never failed me. I scaled back his recipe for Ribs with Big Daddy Rub to make this amazing dish.

For the ribs:
  • 3 to 4 lb slab of St. Louis style ribs
  • 1 L cola
  • 2 c water
For the rub:
  • 1 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbs ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs chili powder
  • 1 Tbs cayenne
  • 1 Tbs black pepper
  • 1 Tbs crushed red pepper flakes
For the sauce:
  • 2 c apple cider
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 Tbs red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbs milk
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Start the ribs:
Mix all the rib rub ingredients in a bowl. Preheat the oven to 350 and line a large baking dish (at least 2 inches deep) with aluminum foil. Coat the ribs with the rib rub - you will only use about half of it, and save the rest for later. Place them into the baking dish and let sit at room temperature for half an hour.

Pour the cola and water into the baking dish, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours. Let cool, and slice into individual ribs.

Make the sauce:
Put the apple cider, sugar, and red pepper flakes (you can use less if you want it less spicy) in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Let simmer until reduced by half (about 10 to 15 minutes). Mix the milk and lemon juice in a small bowl to let it curdle. Remove from heat when reduced, and add the milk/lemon juice mixture. Stir well and set aside.

Finish the ribs:
Turn on your grill to medium high heat, and preheat the oven to 350 again. Dip the ribs in the sauce (or  brush with the sauce) and grill about 3 minutes per side. Toss grilled ribs with the rest of the rib rub, then put on a baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes per side until the rub is caramelized.

Serve with the remaining apple cider sauce on the side (or pour it over the ribs!).