Insanely Delicious Rhubarbecue Country-Style Ribs

June 3, 2014

Last week I announced my #5days5ways series, where every week I will be featuring ONE ingredient (requested by you!) and show you how to cook it in FIVE different ways, over FIVE days. Every Tuesday I’ll be sharing my own recipe, Wednesday through Friday I will be sharing recipes from celebrated chefs, growers and other inspirational people, and on Saturdays I will be sharing a recipe submitted by one of YOU!


For the very first feature ingredient I had all sorts of intriguing and tempting requests, including rhubarb, burdock root and sweet potato. Given that right now rhubarb is at the height of its glory – from Seattle to Ithaca – and short-lived, I couldn’t resist picking this Spring fruit to launch #5days5ways. So, let me introduce you to one of my favorite

Emma Frisch Insanely Delicious Rhubarbecue Country-Style Ribs Ingredient

Rhubarb instantly floods me with nostalgia. It is a perennial, which means it grows back every year without having to be planted again. It was always one of the first vegetables to push through the thawed soil in Mamma’s garden, but she almost always used it as a fruit to tide us over before the strawberries emerged. Rhubarb and strawberries cross paths in their harvest, which is why they have such a flagrant love affair in pies, jams and other sweet fixings. The leaves of rhubarb are toxic, but the stems are crisp and utterly refreshing, like celery, though acidic and hardly appropriate for “ants on a log.” The acidity is often tempered with sugar, honey or maple syrup, which is why rhubarb so rarely finds its way into savory dishes.

As I was dreaming of a recipe for this post, I ventured away from pies, and made pickled rhubarb for chopping into salads. After reminiscing over one of Stephanie Izard’s mind-blowing desserts at Girl and the Goat in Chicago, I tried my hand at macerating (marinating) rhubarb in lemon juice and sugar, and then adding it lavishly to a fresh arugula salad. Both were well worth making!

(Waking up the Finger Lakes on WENY TV Good Morning Twin Tiers with Craig and Joe. No, you are not really supposed to eat rhubarb straight up raw – traditionally, it’s dipped in sugar or cooked down with sugar. I forgot to make the point that it’s good to be familiar with an ingredient’s every mood. Joe’s puckered face is priceless.)

But then a light bulb sparked in my head, and I thought of the perfect and wholly unique celebration of rhubarb – which is utterly sticky and sweet and tangy when broken down into sauce. With grills firing all over the neighborhood and The Piggery butcher shop right down the road, I heard the clear, resounding call to make Rhubarb BBQ sauce or … drum roll… RHUBARBECUE! (This would also be sensational with tofu).

My big sis and her boyfriend are visiting from Australia, and along with Bobby and our dear friend Tess, I had four mouths to concur that this was truly one of the most phenomenal barbecues we had ever tasted. We hunkered around the grill like cavemen and women, devouring the juicy country-style ribs, loaded with tender meat and balanced out with a kale salad and coconut quinoa.

This, my friends, is a recipe you will want to try at home.


Emma Frisch Insanely Delicious Rhubarbecue Country-Style Ribs Recipe


Insanely Delicious Rhubarbecue Country-Style Ribs

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Truly the perfect barbecue sauce. With a well stocked pantry, the only ingredients you will need to pick up are rhubarb and ribs. You can make the sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week, or seal with a canning process and save for later use – or gifts!

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings


  • Country style ribs – 2 pounds
  • Rhubarb – 2 pounds chopped rhubarb stalks
  • Molasses – 1/4 cup
  • Maple Syrup – 1/2 cup
  • Ginger – 1 teaspoon, finely grated
  • Olive oil – 1.5 tablespoons
  • Onion – 1 cup, chopped (yellow or red)
  • Garlic – 2 teaspoons, minced
  • Sea salt – 1 teaspoon
  • Black pepper – 1 teaspoon
  • Tomato puree – 1/2 cup, can or box of pure tomato puree (Brand I like: Pomi)
  • Yellow mustard seeds – 2 teaspoons
  • Ground cinnamon – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Smoked paprika – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Ground clove – 1/8 teaspoon
  • Dark soy sauce – 1 teaspoon, substitute light soy sauce


  1. Prepare the grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Combine the rhubarb, molasses, maple syrup and grated ginger in a large pot. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 7 minutes until the rhubarb begins to break down into a string texture.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and stir until the onions and garlic begin to brown. Add the tomato sauce and stir. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Remove the lid from the rhubarb and add in the tomato mixture, mustard seeds, cinnamon, smoked paprika, ground clove and dark soy sauce. Stir thoroughly and simmer for about 20 minutes, uncovered, until the sauce reduces by half.
  5. Meanwhile, season the ribs with salt and pepper on both sides, and let them rest at room temperature.
  6. When the sauce is ready, cover the ribs with the sauce and let them marinate for at least 10 minutes, or longer in the refrigerator.
  7. Add the ribs to the grill, cooking on each side for about 6-10 minutes. Cut through the thickest part of the meat to see if it is done – it should be juicy but no longer pink in color.
  8. If there is sauce left from the marinade, cook it down in a pot to cook out the raw meat, and serve alongside the finished ribs.

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  1. I have a huge rhubarb plant and am always looking for savory ways to use it. CAn you share what you did with it when you paired it on the arugula?

    1. Lovely! Yes, I can’t remember the exact recipe but this article explains macerating rhubarb and is close to my method: I essentially covered the rhubarb with cane sugar (could also use coconut sugar!), lemon zest and lemon juice, and let it marinate in the fridge for a couple days. Then you can use it as a topping on salads (add goat cheese and watermelon or beets!). Adding strawberries will sweeten everything up and also be delicious. Let me know how it goes experimenting!

  2. Hi Emma,
    If I couldn’t grill the Insanely Delicious Rhubarbecue Country-Style Ribs, how would you suggest I cook them?

    1. Sorry for the delayed response! I would cook them in the oven. Place them on a rack over a baking sheet or dish. Start them at 450 for 10 minutes then lower to 300 and cook slowly for 1 hour.

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