If Belgians were to do barbecue, this is what they would end up with. I’ve worked in a few BBQ places in my time in the kitchen. One trick we’d use was to dip baby back ribs in apple cider vinegar after the membrane was peeled off, allowing the acid of the vinegar to break down the meat proteins, resulting in a more tender rib. Another place I worked, we’d dip the full racks into a vinegar heavy BBQ sauce and allow the ribs to marinade for 24 – 48 hours in the sauce, to again, break down the muscle fibers, creating a more tender rib.
This idea of soaking the ribs in a un-blended lambic was derived from those experiences. The lower pH of a lambic style will act much like a vinegar and the results are not just a tender rib, but with a nice barnyard flavor in the finish of these ribs. Served these ribs with a Peach Lambic Barbecue Sauce to really highlight the lambic flavors.
Makes: 2 full slabs of ribs, feeding 4 hungry guests
Flip the rib upside down (bones facing you), and find the top corner of the widest end. Look for the white membrane that covers the bottom of the rack (you might need to run a fork tong along the bone to find a place to grab it) and pull it away from the bones to discard it. Removing this membrane will make for a more tender rib. Find a container, such as a disposable roasting or hotel pan large enough to hold the slabs of ribs while they lay flat (or cut each slab in half). Pour the Lambic over the ribs, leaving any sediment behind. The acid of the beer will help break down the fat, tenderizing the ribs and adding a nice tartness to balance out the fatty richness. Let marinate for 12 – 24 hours.
Remove the ribs from the Lambic (reserving the liquid for a mop), dry them with a paper towel and season with salt and white pepper. Let them sit for 30 minutes at room temperature while the coals are being prepared.
Follow the smoking instructions for the smoked pork shoulder to cook the ribs, using the same smoke layering technique. Cook at 250°F | 121°C – 275°F | 135°C for about 4 hours. Baste the ribs once an hour with the Lambic mop during cooking. The ribs are done when you lightly pull on a rib and the meat gives just enough to free the bone while still remaining intact.
Conventional Oven Cooking Directions
If a smoker isn’t available, preheat the oven to 250°F | 121°C . Season the ribs with salt and pepper, wrapping each full slab separately in plastic wrap and adding a few tablespoons of Lambic to each package. Yes, I said plastic wrap. Make sure they are sealed tightly. Rewrap again with a second layer of plastic wrap. Now wrap the ribs in a third layer, this time with aluminum foil. Place each triple-wrapped rib onto a baking sheet and cook for 5 hours. Do not peek or puncture the ribs package. The ribs will steam in their own juices and lambic beer for 5 hours, creating tender rib meat that falls off the bone. It’s so easy, you’ll wonder why you haven’t tried this before …