Bring on the heat! Deliciously spicy pork ribs with a sweet-tangy maple & whisky glaze can be pre-roasted in the oven (even the day before) and then finished on the grill (campfire or barbecue) or under the broiler for a smoky, charred finish.
It's never the wrong time of year to grill up some lip-smacking sweet & tangy ribs! These tasty Canadian-style spicy pork ribs are a fantastic meaty treat. We served them at another great Campfire Dinner this summer, but they are a favourite meal any time of year. The beauty of spicy ribs is that you coat them with a zesty dry spicy rub, pre-roast them in the oven (even up to a few days before you need them), then brush them with their tangy glaze and grill or broil them to reheat them for serving. Great for a crowd, too!
Another Campfire Cooking Meal!
Oh, how I love our Campfire Cooking meals - the planning, the shopping, and then the camaraderie of cooking around a fire, getting smoke in our eyes, burning our fingers, laughing, sipping drinks, and reveling in being outside, thankful to have these experiences.
Everything tastes better outside and when shared with friends.
For this Campfire Dinner we went with a simple and rather iconic menu - ribs and corn and grilled vegetables, with grilled cheese sandwiches to start (of course with the addition of a gourmet touch!). Canadian maple and whisky was the theme that wove itself through our courses - a most delicious pairing
Drinks and Appetizer:
Canadian Paper Plane Cocktails, Gruyere Cheese, Olives, and Grapes
Campfire Gruyere Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Whisky Caramelized Onions and Apple Ketchup
Maple & Whisky Spicy Pork Ribs, Fresh Corn Cobs with Chipotle Cream, Grilled Zucchini
Campfire Waffles with Mixed Berry Compote and Maple Chantilly Cream
Cocktail & Appetizer Course
The Paper Plane Cocktail is my new favourite drink! 🥂 It's made with equal parts of Aperol, Amaro Nonino, bourbon, and fresh lemon juice. To give it a Canadian twists, we replaced the bourbon with a good Canadian rye whisky (the Alberta ones are especially superb, made with prairie-grown rye grain and glacier-fed mountain water). For each drink, use 15 ml/½ oz. (1 tablespoon) of each ingredient, stir together, and serve them over ice in a fancy glass with a lemon or orange slice garnish.
First Course: Grilled Cheese
We used our cast iron campfire sandwich makers to grill our cheese sandwiches. But first we slowly caramelized a whole bunch of sliced onions with a touch of maple syrup and a generous glug of Canadian whisky until they were melting and deeply browned. We buttered the outsides of some good sourdough bread, then filled them with a thick slice of premium gruyere cheese and one of mozarella cheese (for that stretchy melting quality), topped them with a generous dollop of the caramelized onions, then grilled them until they were crispy and golden on the outside. We served them with a homemade apple ketchup (sorry, no recipe), made from some apple paste I'd made and had in the freezer and to which we added more maple syrup, whisky, apple cider vinegar, and spices. So good!
Main Course: Spicy Ribs
Hot stuff! These ribs pack an irresistable spicy punch! A touch of sweetness from the maple syrup and richness from the whisky round out the flavour beautifully. Grab lots of napkins. The ribs are sticky-delicious and the tasty corn is gooey and creamy and cheesy, too. We made this Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob with with Chipotle Cream. Simple grilled garden zucchini rounds out this smoky camfire meal.
Grilled pork ribs are an easy choice for campfire grilling. You coat the ribs with a spicy rub, then oven-roast them for a few hours until tender - this can even be done a few days in advance. Then when it's grilling time, coat them with the glaze and brown them over the campfire, or on the barbecue, or even in the oven if you're having an indoor meal. Any time can be rib time!
Dessert: Campfire Waffles
I found a lovely cast iron waffle iron at a thrift store - it was all rusty, but after a good cleaning and conditioning, it works beautifully to make tender campfire waffles. We picked the last of our raspberries (3 different varieties) and cooked up a tasty compote flavoured with (you guessed it!) maple syrup and Canadian whisky. Spooned over the waffles and served with a dollop of maple-sweetened cream, this was a memorable finale to our dinner.
Easy Recipe for Spicy Ribs
Allow about 1 lb (454gms) of pork back or side ribs per person - one large rack will feed 2 people. Side ribs (spare ribs) are meatier but a little tougher, so generally need a longer cooking time. Back ribs are less meaty but more tender. Either type will work for this recipe as the long slow roasting times ensures they are both moist and tender.
Removing the membrane from the bony side of each rib rack is optional. If you choose to do it, here's a trick to make it easy: pry the tip of a knife under the membrane near the skinny end of the rack, then use a paper towel to grasp the membrane and slowly pull it up and off the ribs.
Cut each rib in half through the meat between two of the center ribs. This makes it easier to fit them into a baking pan.
Mix up the spicy rub, and coat all sides and edges of the rib racks. (About ½ cup of spicy rub will be enough for 4 lbs (1.8kg) of ribs.)
Snug the rib racks into a roasting tin or baking pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil to keep in the heat and moisture.
Then bake them nice and long and slow. If you will be grilling or finishing the ribs the next day, remove the ribs to a covered dish or plate covered with foil. Scrape the pan juices into a small container, and refrigerate both until needed.
When it's time to enjoy your tender ribs, you can leave the racks whole, or cut them into 2 or 3-rib portions. Cook up the reserved pan juices (which will have jelled when chilled) with equal amounts of soy sauce, whisky, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar. Brush this glaze over the ribs and grill them on a campfire grill or barbecue, pop them under the broiler, or roast them at high temperature in the oven to caramelize the glaze to a beautifully charred sticky layer of deliciousness.
Serve the ribs with piles of napkins and a bowl for the bones.
See our other Campfire Cooking Meals here:
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Spicy Ribs, Canadian-Style
- roasting pan or 9x13-inch baking dish
- aluminum foil
- campfire grill, barbecue, or oven
- 2 large racks of pork back ribs or side ribs (about 4 lbs/1.8kg total weight)
- ¼ cup (60ml) water
for the Spicy Rib Rub:
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes/chile flakes (reduce to 1 tablespoon for a milder spice level)
- 1 tablespoon mild smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
for the glaze:
- drippings from ribs or 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Canadian rye whisky or apple juice
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Preheat oven to 325℉ (170℃).
- Remove the membrane from the ribs, if desired. (To remove it, poke a sharp knife under the membrane at the skinny end of the rib rack on the bony side to loosen it a bit. Grab the membrane with a paper towel for better grip, and pull it back and off as far as it will go.) Cut each rib rack in half between two bones to make four smaller racks.
- Stir together all the ingredients for the spice rub and coat all the sides and edges of all 4 rib racks, rubbing in the mixture well.
- Lay the ribs in a single layer in a baking dish large enough to hold them. Sprinkle on any remaining spice rub, and pour the ¼ cup of water into the pan beside the ribs. Cover the pan with aluminum foil.
- Bake for 2 to 2½ hours, until very tender.
- When the ribs are done, drain any juices in the roasting pan into a small saucepan. If the liquid is less than about 2 tablespoons, add oil to make up the difference. If there is no liquid in the pan, use 2 tablespoons of oil. Wipe out the roasting pan and line it with aluminum foil for easier clean up if roasting the ribs in the oven. Return the ribs to the foil-lined pan if finishing them immediately.
- If you are finishing the ribs another day, remove them from the pan and refrigerate them at this point. Pour the roasting juices into a small container and refrigerate them to use when making the glaze.
- Add the soy sauce, whisky, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar to the roasting juices/oil in the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until it turns syrupy (5 to 8 minutes).
- Brush the glaze over the ribs, coating both sides, with a pastry brush.
- Grill the ribs on a grill over hot campfire coals, on a barbecue grill, or in the oven, until they are lightly charred and smoky. Brush any remaining glaze over them as they are grilling. If finishing the ribs in the oven, set the baking dish containing the ribs on a rack near the top of the oven under the broiler and grill them until well browned. Watch them carefully as they are broiling, so they don't burn. Alternately, roast them in a 450℉ (230℃) oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until glazed and browned.