I bought this book called Cook This Not That a few years ago and read it cover to cover and made maybe one recipe. Then I lost the book. When I started my new diet I knew I needed to cook Sunday dinner for our families every Sunday and I remembered this book so I ordered it again.
My mom mentioned that she had a bunch of meat in her freezer and was listing of everything she had. When she said baby back ribs my mind went immediately to this odd recipe I read in the book about Dr Pepper Ribs. It was supposed to save a gazillion calories.
Despite my Diet Coke addiction, Brian and I, for a few years now, have been eating as clean as possible. What that meant for us was selecting real food whenever possible. So, for example, instead of eating Log Cabin maple syrup we use Costco's real maple syrup. We try not to buy anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup. We try to stick to the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid processed food, pretty much anything that comes in a box, whenever possible. As you can see, it's not a weight loss strategy but just a way to limit the consumption of junk. And I'm sure I made up for all of it by drinking Diet Coke. But it was just something we decided to do.
So after I selected this recipe you can see how I would be thinking to myself, why are you cooking with High Fructose Corn Syrup and god know what other chemicals (Dr. Pepper) when you can make a nice brown sugar rub and eat clean. And up until yesterday I was strongly thinking about backing out. But I bought all the stuff and I just thought I'd give it a shot. I did only take 1 rack of ribs from my mom instead of both so I could make the other one some other time.
Dr. Pepper Baby Back Ribs - Adapted From "Cook This Not That"
2 racks baby back ribs
1 (2 liter) bottle Dr. Pepper cola
1⁄4 cup salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
1⁄2 medium onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1⁄2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Remove the weird film on the back of the ribs (see you tube if you have no idea what I'm talking about). Cut rib rack in half to fit in a large baking dish. Go against all your instincts and pour about 3/4 of a 2 liter of Dr Pepper over the ribs. Then continue that feeling by pouring 1/4 cup of salt over the Dr Pepper and rib concoction. Cover with saran wrap and put in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours up to overnight (but that would be weird because you'd have to cook the ribs in the morning).
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Remove the ribs from the disgusting liquid, pat them dry with many papertowels. Clean the baking dish. Sprinkle the ribs with chili powder and place them back in the baking dish and add 1 cup of water. Cover tightly with foil. Cook for 2 hours, until the meat literally falls off the bone.
When you have about a half hour of cooking left start the BBQ sauce. Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add onion and garlic. Spray Pam oil in the saucepan because 1/2 tablespoon of oil is not enough. Cook them a few minutes until soft. Add the ketchup, Worcestershire, vinegar, cayenne and then add 1/2 cup of Dr Pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes. Sauce will thicken.
If you are me, you're wondering if it tastes like Dr Pepper. It tastes like apple cider vinegar and a hint of onion to me. Vinegar is not my favorite but I continued on.
From here you are supposed to grill the ribs but we are out of gas for the grill so I decided to broil them.
I switched from the baking pan to a heavy duty cookie sheet lined with foil. When I moved the ribs from the baking dish to the cookie sheet they started falling apart. I put them ribs up and brushed them with the BBQ sauce. I broiled them until the sauce started to caramelize and look a little crunchy.
Then I took them out and flipped them, still falling apart and not looking pretty anymore, and I brushed the top side with BBQ sauce and put them back in the broiler until this side started to caramelize and look a little crunchy. Go longer than you think but don't burn them, watch them like a hawk. You want those crunchy bits though.
Regarding the taste of the ribs. They were amazing. Very tender and the sauce was very good, I didn't find it too sweet or too vinegary once the sauce was caramelized. It was really very good. If you don't have an aversion to cooking with soda, I say go for it. I'm going to try something else next time. Ribs are pretty high in calories and fat so that's something to keep in mind but for a treat like Sunday dinner they are a great choice.
We split this one rack into 5 1/2 servings and my mom ate the last 1/2 serving. I had some taste pieces (quality control is important) plus my serving, just to be safe. I gotta say I was worried about calories with this one. Even though I had 1/4 a rack and taste bits, just to be safe I counted mine as 1/2 rack, which is 400 calories but there's no way I ate 1/2 of a rack. Even 1/4 rack only feeds 4 people so it was probably less than a 1/4 rack. I would say 1/4 rack would feel a bunch of old people and 2 people trying to watch their weight, otherwise you'd want 1/2 per person. I should have cooked both racks though everyone seemed full they probably went home and had a sandwich. Usually I'm pretty good at cooking enough food for everyone, not sure what happened here. 1/2 rack per person for sure next time. Everyone RAVED about the taste. We did not tell them about the Dr Pepper.
I served this meal with green beans cooked to death like southern girls like them, a side salad with Olive Garden Italian dressing and my mom brought potato salad.
I counted my meal as 400 for the ribs (vast overestimate), 1/2 cup green beans, 20 calories, 1 tsp of butter, 33 calories, 2 tablespoons dressing, 80 calories, and I took a smallish bit of potato salad but I thought it should at least be 100 calories because of the abundance of mayonnaise, so I counted it as 120 calories. Total 656 calories, probably more like 454 but better to overestimate than under.
Photos! I totally flaked and forgot again. When I host dinner or parties, my number 1 concern is serving dinner the moment it's done so it's hot and it doesn't sit there. This doesn't work well with food staging or party staging so my photographs suffer. I did tell Brian to remind me to take photos but he forgot too.
I grabbed one photo of the little piece that was left that I only remembered because my mom was going to eat it.
It's so pitiful. It looks like a chicken wing. Oh well, you'll have to take my word for it, they were really good and falling apart.