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Easter Sunday is now less than two weeks away, and we’re planning out our menu around here. Don’t expect our Easter Sunday menu to have ham or lamb or anything, though… we’ve stepped up our game with something that the whole family is going to love. Ribs. See, I don’t know about you, but I love an extra tender, extra juicy rib dinner. But my favorite Easter treat is those delicious caramel-filled eggs, so I’ve decided to have my caramel… and my ribs… at the same time. It’s not as crazy as it sounds; if you’ve ever had a honey barbecue sauce and liked it, you’re going to love these amazing caramel ribs, too. They’re sweet, they’re savory, and they have a little zap of ginger. Perfect for Easter, or for any spring and summer day…
When it comes to quality ribs, I don’t have to special order them. In fact, I don’t have to look any further than the meat case at my local Walmart Neighborhood Market. They carry Smithfield ribs, which are so juicy, tender, and delicious that they turn out perfectly pretty much every time.
Trust me, I have major grilling anxiety sometimes (I’m still learning!) but every time I’ve grilled Smithfield ribs, they turn out perfect… literally falling off of the bone when you eat them. These are delicious, priced just right, and the whole family loves them every time I make them.
To start the caramel ribs, you’re going to make a delicious caramel sauce. But not just any caramel sauce– a tangy, savory caramel sauce. Most caramel sauces start out with a few key ingredients– butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and corn syrup. This rib glaze is no exception to that rule.
The savory bit comes in the seasonings… apple cider vinegar, ketchup, sriracha, and mustard help to bring out the kick and stops the sauce from getting too sweet. Pumpkin pie spice adds a little kick of ginger and uses cinnamon to highlight the caramel flavor. A little salt, a little pepper, and you’ve got the perfect sticky rib glaze.
Bring your glaze to a boil, stirring it pretty constantly, then remove when it’s boiling, but still pourable (before it thickens too much). Your house is going to smell amazing at this point, trust me.
Start your charcoal for your grill and get it ready to grill with. I love to use Kingsford charcoal for grilling because it burns just right and keeps going longer. Add your coals to the grill, accounting for indirect heat on your ribs (I use a deep charcoal grill to give some distance between the coals and my ribs, but a wide grill that allows coals to be on one side and the ribs to be on another works, also).
For perfectly tender ribs every time, you’re going to want to use the Smithfield ribs, but you’re also going to want to be mindful of cooking your ribs low and slow– using a lower temperature and letting them cook for a few hours. Ribs done right take a few hours on indirect heat, rather than a few minutes over a roaring fire.
I love that Smithfield Ribs are hand-trimmed, extra-tender, and juicy. The fact that they’re hand-trimmed makes life so much easier for me (no trimming on my part!) and that juiciness is just clear from the moment you bite in.
Smithfield Ribs have no added hormones or steroids, so you can be confident when making this meat for your family. I love that they’re ready for grilling and easy to prepare.
When you’re ready to get grilling, give the ribs a really good rub with garlic, then place them on the grill. Set a metal or heat-safe cup full of water on the grill, too. It helps add some steam and moisture to boost the tenderness of the ribs. Refill it if needed during the cooking process (though not much will evaporate if your heat is right!)
Now, most grilling instructions where you’re using a barbecue sauce are going to encourage you to add the sauce near the end of your cook time. That’s a great idea, but this caramel is not a sauce, it’s a glaze, so you’ll want to add it right at the beginning of your cook time, and again several times throughout the cooking process. Brush on about 1/4 of your caramel mixture when you put the ribs on the grill.
Checking the heat every 20 minutes for consistency, grill the caramel ribs bone-down for an hour, then remove the grill cover and glaze the ribs a second time. Cook the ribs for about 3 hours total on consistent low indirect heat (roughly 250 degrees), glazing after each hour on the grill.
Turn the ribs over after 3 hours, and remove any of the extra glaze drippings from the ribs. Glaze the bottom of the ribs, cover, and cook for 30-60 minutes longer, until the caramel ribs begin to separate when lifted and the rib meat pulls back slightly from the bone.
When they’re ready, take the remaining glaze and warm it up in the microwave until it’s pourable. Stir in some sesame seeds and pour it over the ribs once you’ve cut them apart. Serve warm, and watch your family’s faces just light up.
Even if you’ve never made ribs before, your Smithfield ribs are sure to impress your friends and family. Because they’re extra juicy, you don’t have to worry about your pork turning out anything less than perfect.
The caramel glaze is reminiscent of the flavors you love at Easter time when you dig into one of those chocolate caramel eggs, but it’s savory enough that it pairs with the pork perfectly. The ginger gives it a little bit of flair that makes these caramel ribs finger-licking delicious every time.
And trust me, if I can grill ribs, you can grill ribs, too. I’m a grilling rookie– really! I grew up watching my dad tend the grill, and have only just started exploring grilling for myself. But the thing is, you don’t have to be a grillmaster or an expert to perfectly grill Smithfield ribs. If you can keep the coals at a relatively low temp and take your time with the pork ribs, you can have perfectly tender ribs every time with Smithfield. They do the work for you by creating amazingly juicy ribs!
Sesame Caramel Ribs Recipe
- 1 rack Smithfield Extra Tender Back Ribs
- 1/2 Cup butter, melted
- 1 C brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 C granulated sugar
- 1/2 C corn syrup
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp ketchup
- 2 tsp sriracha
- 1 tsp mustard
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 Tbsp garlic
- 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
- In saucepan or stock pot, combine butter, sugars, corn syrup, vinegar, ketchup, mustard, sriracha, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and pepper. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring. Remove from heat.
- Rub ribs with garlic, then place on grill bone side down over low (250 degree) indirect heat with a cup of water on the grill for moisture.
- Glaze ribs with 1/4 of caramel mixture. Cook for 3 hours, glazing after each hour.
- Turn ribs bone side up and glaze. Cook 30-60 minutes longer, until ribs separate slightly when lifted.
- Cut ribs apart. Mix remaining glaze with sesame seeds and pour over ribs. Serve.
If you want to kick it up a notch, you can also try this delicious recipe from Smithfield’s favorite grill master, Tuffy Stone! He’s got an amazing recipe for Chipotle glazed ribs, and I know you’re going to love it.
Whether you’re making my caramel ribs, Tuffy Stone’s Chipotle ribs, or simply finishing the ribs with a brush of KC Masterpiece barbecue sauce, you’re going to have perfect ribs every time.
What’s on your menu this Easter? And what’s your best grilling tip?
Let me know in the comments below! Don’t forget to check out the Get Grilling America website. There are opportunities to win $5,000 cash and chances to win multiple prizes all summer long!
More Delicious Rib Ideas
Rib Cooking 101 at the Smithfield online Prep School
Spicy-as-Heck Ribs that you can make using Smithfield Ribs and Tabasco sauce
Smithfield’s Youtube Channel, with interviews, recipes, ideas and more.
Smithfield’s Pinterest account, with more great Rib recipes from around the web