There are no shortcuts when you make Country Style Ribs in Coffee BBQ Sauce. It’s the long, slow braise that creates the deep, rich BBQ flavour! If you don’t have three hours to dedicate to this dish, don’t even attempt it because country-style pork ribs need that time to be fork-tender and saucy with transparent delicious fatty-bits that melt in your mouth.
Put The Coffee On
I’m pretty sure my Dad gifted Mom “The Coffee Cookbook” as a joke back in the early 70s. Dad is a coffee guy. All day, any time of the day, the coffee pot was always on, the end result being something close to bitter mud. Mom would often complain about leftover coffee, and what a waste it was to pour it down the sink.
Trust Mom to find something useful and delicious! This recipe quickly became a family favourite and has been adjusted and refined to individual tastes since then in both my and my Mother’s kitchen.
This is my take on the Country Style Ribs in Coffee BBQ Sauce that Mom used to make. Tangy, robust, a little less sweet, and oh so very tender. It’s BIG BBQ taste, straight from your oven!
“I don’t taste the coffee.”
This is probably the most frequent comment I get when I make these ribs for guests. The coffee in the sauce isn’t meant to be a dominant flavour. Coffee adds tannins for a more tender result, plus a layer of complexity and richness to the sauce without being overbearing.
Tomato, brown sugar and paprika give our Country Style Ribs in Coffee BBQ Sauce its balance, depth and signature tang.
Never Heard Of Country Style Ribs?
Let’s Talk Pork Rib Cuts, shall we?! Butchery methods vary, but in general, we get four cuts from pork ribs.
The second cut, also bone-in, is Spareribs. Spareribs are a deeper cut, from the bottom portion of the rib. Bones are longer, and overall Spareribs are less meaty, but many consider them more deeply flavourful thanks to the attached brisket flap at the bottom of the cut.
The St. Louis Style Rib, is a bone-in, tighter cut of the Sparerib, omitting the brisket flap. St. Louis Style ribs are the bottom half of the ribcage. They are often better marbled, but less meaty than their Baby Back cousins and require a much longer cooking method.
Country Style Ribs, on the other hand, are thick-cut, and often boneless. They’re most frequently cut from the shoulder, but can also be cut to contain the loin, making them leaner (which is what I’m working with here). Often labelled as Pork Loin Rib Tips, Country Style Ribs are generally considered a chop, as opposed to a true rib cut, therefore we have to braise for an extended period to break down the leaner portion so it’s juicy and tender.
Sauce. Braise. Baste. Braise. Then braise some more!
In my neck of the woods, Country Style Pork Ribs are often on sale this time of year. This was a package of eight ribs, on sale for $8.00. Great price, but without the right cooking method, they can be dry, tough and fatty unless we honour the cut with low heat and a LONG braise.
To BRAISE: slowly cooking meat or vegetables in a covered vessel, in a large amount of liquid or fat.
Often, we sear first THEN cook, low and slow. This helps to build your sauce and flavour, as we do in a stew. Here we’re immersing the raw, seasoned meat in the sauce, so it permeates the flesh and coats the outer layer, to accent the meat and then we cook it until it’s fall-apart tender.
To keep the heat even, I opted for a shallow roasting pan covered in tinfoil rather than a Dutch oven for this recipe because I want to evaporate the excess liquid, not retain it. Otherwise, you wind up with bbq sauce soup and pale insipid ribs.
This also makes Country Style Ribs in Coffee BBQ Sauce success, more easily achievable no matter what equipment your kitchen holds.
All you need is a decent-sized pan to give the ribs enough space and a roll of tinfoil!
Save The Sauce
I often double the sauce when I’m making this recipe because it’s a terrific sauce for quicker cuts like chicken, pork tenderloin or chops on the BBQ. Sometimes I potion and freeze it, or I use it for leftovers from the original recipe.
As you braise the sauce reduces and clings to the bottom of your pan. You might look at that result and think it’s burnt or wasted. Test it first, but usually, it’s simply concentrated and very salty.
So rather than ditch it, I cool the pan, de-grease (pour off excess oil), scrape the pan down and then mix the pan drippings with some leftover tomato purée (or the balance of the sauce) for a finishing sauce to make each serving saucy-licious.
Magic With Leftovers
Because the end result is so rich, unless you’re feeding a crowd, you’re going to have leftovers so it pays to have a plan. We use Country Style Ribs in Coffee BBQ Sauce leftovers in the same way we might use Pulled Pork.
Slap chopped, juicy rib-bits in a bun or crispy baguette with a good coleslaw. Roll it up in a tortilla with sautéed onions and peppers with sharp cheese and give it a good grill and you’ve got rib burritos to die for! Or chop it nice and fine and have saucy-pork nachos. Messy is good.
There are no shortcuts when you make Country Style Ribs in Coffee BBQ Sauce. It’s a long, slow, low braise that creates the deep, rich BBQ flavour! If you don’t have three hours to dedicate to this dish, don’t even attempt it because country-style pork ribs need that time to be fork-tender and saucy with transparent delicious fatty-bits that melt in your mouth!
1 – 1.5pounds thick-cut country-style pork ribs
2cups tomato puree
1/2cup strong coffee or espresso
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
3 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon cooking oil, OR coat well with non-stick spray
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350° F (175°C). To make Coffee Barbecue Sauce: combine tomato puree, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard, cayenne pepper (if using) and coffee in a medium bowl and whisk until brown sugar is completely dissolved. Reserve.
Coat shallow roasting pan well with cooking oil or non-stick spray. Dry country-style pork ribs well with paper towel then arrange in the bottom of the pan, one layer deep. Season well, with salt and pepper, on both sides. Spoon or scoop about one-third of the sauce over the ribs, then flip ribs and coat the other side leaving about 1/4 cup of sauce reserved (see notes). Cover roasting pan tightly with tinfoil and place in the middle of pre-heated 350° F (175°C) oven and set a timer for one hour.
At the one-hour mark, remove from oven, carefully peel back aluminium foil and baste with sauce in pan. Cover again with tinfoil and return to the oven for another hour. Again dredge ribs with now thickening sauce in pan so that they are well coated. Test ribs with a pairing knife, if they are tender and easy to pierce, go directly to the next step. If not, return to oven, covered, for another half an hour.
To finish – boost oven temperature to 375° F (190°C). Again coat ribs well with sauce in the pan, using a brush or spoon. If the sauce looks too thick, add a little water around the edges and mix it in with the sauce so it’s easy to apply. Now return to the oven for about 30 minutes, or until ribs are deep, reddish-brown. Remove from oven, lacquer with a final coat of reserved (warm) sauce (if desired) and then rest ribs for 5 minutes before serving. Serve immediately with your choice of side. Word to the wise, do NOT wear white while eating Country Style Ribs in Coffee BBQ Sauce, because messy is GOOD!
Notes on sauce: As you braise the sauce reduces and clings to the bottom of your pan. You might look at that result and think it’s burnt or wasted. Test it first, but usually, it’s simply concentrated and very salty. So rather than ditch it, I cool the pan, de-grease (pour off excess oil), scrape the pan down and then mix the pan drippings with some leftover tomato purée for a finishing sauce to make each serving saucy-licious.
Prep Time:30 Minutes
Cook Time:2 hours, 30 minutes
Keywords: Country Style Ribs, Country Style Pork Ribs, Coffee BBQ Sauce
Cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer and recipe blogger. A Cordon Bleu-trained Chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn and has been sharing all things delicious - right here - since 2010.