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Grilled Root Beer Pork Ribs

Inspired by the Southern practice of cooking meat with Coca-Cola, Zak Pelaccio marinates racks of spare ribs in a mixture of root beer, fish sauce and garlic, then roasts and grills them until tender and charred. "On the Island, we use local root beer from St. John Brewers, which is very sweet—the sweeter the better," he says.


Slideshow of Ribs Recipes More Ribs Recipes


  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6

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  • Four 12-ounce bottles root beer

  • 1 cup Asian fish sauce

  • 1 head of garlic, cloves crushed

  • 1/4 cup black peppercorns, cracked

  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced

  • 16 cups ice

  • 2 large racks of pork spare ribs (about 5 pounds each)

  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

  • 2 tablespoons finely ground long pepper (see Note) or black pepper

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice plus lime wedges, for serving


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 bottles of the root beer to a boil with the fish sauce, garlic, cracked black peppercorns and shallots. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 25 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large roasting pan and add the ice. Add the rib racks, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°. Remove the ribs from the marinade and scrape off most of the solids. Transfer the ribs to a large rimmed baking sheet. Cover with foil and bake for about 2 hours, until the meat is very tender but not falling off the bones.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 2 bottles of root beer with the vanilla bean and seeds and long pepper and boil over moderately high heat until reduced to 2/3 cup, about 25 minutes. Add the lime juice and simmer for 2 minutes. Discard the vanilla bean.
  4. Light a grill. Grill the ribs over high heat until richly browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the racks to a carving board and cut in between the ribs. Serve the ribs with lime wedges, passing the root beer sauce at the table.


Long pepper, a fragrant relative of black pepper from Indonesia, can be found at specialty food stores and online at salt traders.com.

Suggested Pairing

Robust Australian Shiraz.

Contributed By Photo © Cedric Angeles Published December 2011

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