Our Favorite Non-barbecued Ribs

Tricia and I both looooove pork ribs. She prefers them barbecued and I like them stewed. But there is one way to cook them that we both enjoy. Without further ado, here’s our favorite non-barbecued ribs.

I have a few criteria for good ribs:

  1. Fall off the bone tender. If I have to fight the bone for my meat, it’s an automatic fail.
  2. Flavorfully juicy. I think this criteria is the most important for smoked ribs. It takes some skills to smoke a piece of meat for many hours and expect the product to maintain its juiciness.
  3. Smokey. I love that smokey flavor in rib meat.
  4. Good size at a good price. It is frustrating to pay $20 for three pieces of ribs. I don’t care how tasty it is. If the price is outrageous, I won’t have it twice. This is another reason we love cooking ribs in our own kitchen. It’s cheap and delicious!

With all that said, I don’t have the setup to smoke a rack of ribs for 12 hours at home. I needed a way to make the ribs super tender and flavorful without putting a smoker in my balcony-less apartment. The solution? Pressure cooker ribs. Here’s how it’s done.

Ingredient: the ingredients in bold are crucial, everything else are more or less optional but definitely add layers of flavor.

  1. Spices: Cumin powder, cumin seeds, chilli powder, paprika, salt, brown sugar, ground black pepper, dijon mustard, cloves.
  2. Veg: dice half an onion, slice or shred at least 4 carrots, sliced jalapenos.
  3. A full rack of baby back ribs.
  4. Liquid smoke.


  1. A pressure cooker
  2. A Large saute pan
  3. Kitchen oven

Time cost: 60-90 minutes


  1. Pick your ribs. This step is more important than you think.
    1. Look on the inside of your rack of ribs (concave side). There is often a piece of appendage meat with fibers perpendicular to rib bones. This piece of meat is usually not tasty so I try to minimize its size. (I don’t trim it if it’s there. It’s food; no reason to waste it).
    2. Look on the other (outer) side of the rack. There is also usually a strip of meat running perpendicular to the bones. This piece is also usually chewy. So minimize the size of this cut too.M6_raw
    3. Pay attention to the amount of fat on the cut. If there is too little fat, your ribs won’t be very tender. If there is too much fat, it may be too fatty for some. You just have to go for what you think is right.
  2. Dry rub your ribs. Dump the powder mix (all spices) on the inside and outside of your rack of ribs. Rub them all over. I put a thick layer on, covering every inch. Also make sure you save at least half this powder mixture to make your bbq sauce (in step 4).
  3. Cook them ribs: Fill the pressure cooker with water. Drop in a few chunks of carrots. Roll up your dry rubbed ribs and stand it in the water. Set the pressure cooker to high pressure & 40 minute. Some notes:
    1. Pay attention to the water level. If it submerges only 30% of width of the rack, you will need to cook it longer. The water submerged part will be more tender than the unsubmerged part. However, submerging it 100% may render your pressure cooker too full thus turning the pressure valve into a geyser when depressurizing. I submerge 80% of the rack. Mo tender mo better.
    2. If you look along the rack’s edges (lengthwise), usually one side is bony while the other side has cartilage. Submerge the cartilage end in water.
  4. Make your bbq sauce: Heat a couple teaspoon of olive oil. Saute your diced onions until they are brown (caramelized). Add your sliced carrots and saute it a few more minutes. Add a cup of water, add the rest of the mixed powders (the stuff you used to dry rub your ribs). Stir it well, put a lid it to let it simmer and reduce.
    1. Make sure you have enough salt (1T) and brown sugar (⅓ c) in there. It’s important.
    2. Simmer until the sliced carrots are so soft that they you can break them with a touch by spatula.
  5. Put it together: once your ribs are done in the pressure cooker, place your rack of ribs on an oven tray (we cover it with aluminum foil for easy clean up). Scoop two tablespoons of liquid from your pressure cooker into the bbq sauce you are making. You will want some of the liquid fat on top of the soup. Let the sauce reduce until it’s fairly thick.
    1. When you take the ribs from the pressure cooker, make sure the ribs are tender to the point that one or two piece of the rib bones threaten to fall off. If that’s not the case, they may need more time.
  6. Smother your rack of ribs with your bbq sauce (pretty thick at this point). Spray some liquid smoke on it. Place it in the oven for 10 minutes at 400F.

How good are these ribs? Let’s just say that we don’t usually invite people over when we make ribs because we easily kill a full rack between the two of us in one sitting. It is also too embarrassing to let people see the way we devour them. I know this is not for food purists who wants to smoke their ribs all day, but it’s perfect for a busy family with large appetite.


My Alpine Lakes


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