Living life between the barrel staves in Bourbon Country

The Notes of Autumn

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The chromatic scale consists of 12 notes, out of which endless variations exist to give us everything from Beethoven to the Beatles. The seasons number only four but account for an almost equally diverse number of possibilities for combining flavors and ingredients. One flavor note that most people associate almost exclusively with autumn is apple cider. Apples have their place nearly year round, from crisp green apples in summer salads to caramel apples at Halloween. Apple cider, however, is one of those flavors that just seems fundamentally wrong if you encounter it at any other time of the year besides the harvest and holiday seasons.

Not being a fan of overly tomato-y tasting barbecue sauces, I found the addition of apple cider to my favorite recipe yielded a spectacular feast. And anytime the temperature in central Kentucky hits the 30’s with a full two months to go before the official start of winter, we need something to divert our attention away from what’s happening outdoors. These ribs will have everyone glued to their seats and fighting over what’s left of the sauce, forgetting for a while, the unseasonal temperatures.

Country Style Pork Ribs with Harvest Cider Barbecue Sauce

Inspired by a recipe from Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Tastes cookbook (published 2000).

4 to 5 lbs country style pork ribs

For the rub:

  • 2 t salt
  • 1-1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 t dry mustard
  • 1 t cayenne
  • 1 t dillweed
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1 t ground ancho chile pepper
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/2 t thyme

Mix the rub ingredients together and season the ribs liberally on all sides. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place ribs in a roasting pan (no rack needed) and cook for approximately 2-1/2 hours until the meat is tender and pulls easily away from the bone. Serve with Harvest Cider Barbecue Sauce on the side for dipping.

For the sauce:

  • 1 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T Tabasco pepper sauce
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 t liquid smoke
  • 1-1/2 t onion powder
  • 1-1/2 t ground ancho chile pepper
  • 1-1/2 t salt
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t dry mustard
  • 1 t thyme
  • 1/2 t black pepper

Combine all ingredients EXCEPT the apple cider in a sauce pan. Bring just to a boil then simmer for 45 to 5o minutes, whisking every few minutes. Allow the sauce to cool while the ribs finish cooking. When the ribs are almost ready, return the sauce to the stove and stir in 1 cup apple cider. Simmer the sauce for 5 to 7 minutes. The sauce will be thin, but that’s the idea. A thicker sauce would mask the taste of the ribs, which are good enough to eat plain. But then again, why would you want to when you have some of this sauce to dip them in? Enjoy!

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