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Grilled Beef Ribs with Smoky-Sweet Barbecue Sauce

Beef back ribs can be harder to find in butcher shops than short ribs, but chef David Burtka serves them on Halloween because they resemble human ribs. Here, he braises them in Coca-Cola, then brushes them with homemade barbecue sauce before grilling them.

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 8

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  • 15 pounds beef back rib racks—membrane removed, racks cut into individual ribs (about 25 ribs)

  • 1 liter Coca-Cola

  • About 1 liter water

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar

  • 1 cup ketchup

  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar

  • 1/2 cup canned tomato sauce

  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce

  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure ancho chile powder


  1. cook the ribs Put the ribs in a very large pot or roasting pan; add the cola and enough water to just cover. Bring to a boil, skimming off any scum on the surface. Add the peppercorns and 1 tablespoon of salt. Cover and simmer over low heat until the meat is tender but not falling off the bone, 2 hours; drain.
  2. meanwhile, make the sauce In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer over very low heat, stirring frequently, until thick and glossy, about 15 minutes.
  3. meanwhile, make the sauce Light a grill or preheat the broiler. Working in batches, arrange the ribs on baking sheets and brush them with the sauce. Grill the ribs or broil 10 inches from the heat, turning and brushing with sauce, until lightly charred, 12 minutes. Serve with the remaining sauce.
Photo © John Kernick Published October 2012

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