Country-style ribs are cut from the blade end of the pork loin close to the shoulder. They are meatier than other rib cuts. They’re basically found at the tail end of the loin with the last few smaller rib bones attached. It’s like a small baby back rib and pork tenderloin all in one.
We’d eaten these, beer braised, in a little neighbourhood joint just outside Nashville and thought they were delicious. We especially like this cut for its flavour, tenderness and value. Plus, you can switch up the flavour profile to pretty much anything you like. Here, we make the ribs West-country style, with a little still sweetened cider and English mustard for balance. You can use any fruitwood for your smoker, or try an oak and apple mix.
Serves: 6, Wood: Oak and fruit wood (apple or cherry)
100gms BBQ Rub
1.5kg bone-in, country-style pork ribs, thick cut into 6 pieces
6 tbsp Groundnut oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
300ml medium good quality cider
100g soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp English mustard powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 fresh bay leaves
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
300ml American mustard
50ml double cream
sea salt flakes and freshly ground back pepper
groundnut oil, for greasing
Rub a teaspoon of Mustard sauce on each side of the ribs and Shake a teaspoon of rub on each side of the pork ribs. Put them on a plate, cover and pop in the fridge for at least an hour while you prepare your braising liquor and set up your grill.
Set your smoker up for indirect heat, settling on 108°C/225°F. Cook for about 1 hour or until the internal temperature of the thickest end reads 65°C/150°F on a meat thermometer.
While they’re smoking, in a heavy-based pan, combine all the remaining ingredients, keeping aside 150ml of the Mustard Sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer over a low heat – do not allow it boil – for 5-10 minutes, making sure all the ingredients are well combined. Pour the contents of the pan into an ovenproof dish with a lid, or disposable foil tin (with a foil lid or make one with aluminium foil), large enough to accommodate your ribs, do not put the ribs in at this stage.
Transfer the ribs to your dish with the braising liquor. Spoon the liquor over the ribs to coat them evenly, making sure the onions stay on the bottom of the dish. Cover tightly and return to the smoker for a further 2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the ribs is anywhere between 92C/198°F. During this time, the cider will help to tenderise the ribs even further and the other ingredients will impart them with a wonderful fragrance.
Carefully remove the dish from the smoker and drain the braising liquor back into your heavy-based pan. Foil the ribs and set aside to keep warm. Over a medium heat, simmer the braising liquor for about 10 minutes, until reduced by about half, finally add the cream.
To serve, place the ribs on a large plate and spoon the sauce down the middle.
7. Serve With
Serve with any kind of potato and some butter sautéed greens, like kale, hispi cabbage and peas.
In an ideal world this Tennessee-inspired dish would clearly be enjoyed in the company of the Queen of Country, Ms Parton herself… But, if she doesn’t happen to be in your neighbourhood, we’d recommend sharing our Country-style Pork Ribs with as many close friends as you can pack around your dinner table! Pop the cork on any cider you haven’t used, sit back and lament the end of the Summer together, as you tuck on in with your favourite tunes playing in the background. And after all your efforts, it’d just be rude if they didn’t take on the washing up!