Ranch to Table Pork Ribs

Pork Ribs Steamed in Apple Cider

byElizabeth Poett
Total 2 hours and 50 minutes (includes marinating time)
Active 20 mins
Makes 8 servings
Racks of sticky, flavorful pork ribs are always a crowd pleaser. With this recipe, I infuse the meat with multiple kinds of flavor: First I add a sweet, fragrant rub of brown sugar and spices; then I grill the meat so that it chars slightly and the sugar caramelizes; and, lastly, I add some more sweetness (and make the meat extra tender) by steaming the ribs over a couple inches of apple cider.
TIP: The “silver skin” is a thin membrane that sits on the bone-side of a rack of ribs. If you don’t want to remove it from your rack of ribs, it’s fine to leave it on, but it will keep the rub and other flavors from penetrating into the back portion of the ribs. If your pot is not large enough to hold all the ribs, you can cook them in 2 smaller ones or in multiple batches.
Special Equipment
a large pot with a steamer basket
Special Equipment
a large pot with a steamer basket
  • 2 cups lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 4 racks baby back pork ribs (2 1/2 to 3 pounds each)
  • 2 cups apple cider
  1. For the rub: In a medium bowl, mix together the brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, ground mustard, and paprika. Set aside.
  2. For the ribs: Working with one rack at a time, place the ribs on a large cutting board, bone-side up, and remove the silver skin (see Cook's Note): Use a butter knife to loosen a corner of the membrane, then slowly pull the membrane off of the meat.
  3. Coat the ribs generously on both sides with the rub, pressing it into the meat. Set the ribs aside to marinate for about 1 hour at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator (the longer the better).
  4. Meanwhile, prepare a charcoal grill until you have embers giving off medium-low heat. (Alternatively, heat a gas grill to medium-low heat.)
  5. Grill the meat, bone-side down, until the outside is golden with some dark charred spots and the crust has caramelized slightly, about 15 minutes. Flip the ribs and grill for about 15 minutes, until the other side is golden and caramelized. Turn the heat to low (or transfer the meat to a cooler part of the grill) and let the ribs finish cooking, about 30 minutes. The meat should be tender and pulling away from the bone.
  6. Fit a large pot with a steamer basket and pour the cider into the bottom of the pot. Set the pot on the grill (or on the stove), and heat until the juice is steaming. Cut the ribs in half (or in thirds) so that they’ll fit in the steamer (see Cook's Note). Cover the pot and steam the ribs slowly over low heat until the meat is very tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on grill temperature.