Beyond its compatibility with ice cream, root beer is a talented ingredient. With its sweet and earthy (yes, root-y) notes, it’s an elixir that pops in the presence of aromatic spices. And when used in meat dishes, root beer is a true gift.
Baby back ribs in a root beer glaze, anyone? Yes, please!
In fact, in the recipe below – found in the book, “Red, White, and ‘Que” (Running Press, 2017) – a slab of ribs gets aromatic love from a genius spice rub that’s made to enhance a root beer glaze. That rub, by the way, is a keeper. Store it with your spices for generous use on poultry, beef or pork dishes.
As for the root beer, this recipe and its smoky-sweet promises may inspire you to keep a bottle or two in your pantry.
The following recipe and authors’ text is reprinted from the 2017 book, “Red, White, and ‘Que,” by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig, with permission of its publisher, Running Press.
ROOT BEER RIBS
“The classic flavors in American root beer—anise, vanilla, sugar, spice—just naturally go well with pork. So, it’s not too much of a stretch to use a root beer marinade and a rub with root beer flavors for ribs, and then finish with a root beer glaze. Five-spice powder is avail¬able at better grocery stores, Asian markets, or online at Penzeys or other spice emporia. We recommend removing the membrane from the back of the ribs so that the aromatic rub and glaze can penetrate the meat more. Use needle-nose pliers to remove the membrane from the just-out-of-the-refrigerator slab of ribs. If the ribs are room temperature, it is more difficult to remove the membrane because it will break apart. For the wood, choose apple, cherry, pecan, or oak (or a combination).” – Karen Adler and Judith Fertig
For the ribs:
2 (1- to 1 1⁄2-pound) slabs baby back ribs
3 (12-ounce) bottles root beer, divided
For the root beer rib rub:
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1⁄ 4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons garlic salt
2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
For the root beer glaze:
1⁄ 2 cup clover or other amber honey
4 ounces unsalted butter
Favorite barbecue sauce, for serving (optional)
Prepare the dish:
The Root Beer Rib Rub:
The Root Beer Glaze:
Grill the ribs: