Recipe: Square Mile Cider Brined and Smoked Ribs

When it comes to ribs, slow and steady wins the race. For Jake Neilson — associate brand manager at Oregon’s Square Mile Cider and amateur chef — slow, steady and cider champions the success of this apple-forward and approachable rib brine and sauce recipe.

“Low and slow, the longer and lower temp ribs cook, the better they are,” Neilson says. “Take your time, relax, the brine will keep them tender. Have an extra cider before you check on the ribs, it will make them all the better.”

With Square Mile’s award-winning The Original cider at the heart of the brine and sauce, the cider is the true star of the show and a natural pairing match. Oregon-grown Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious and Jonagold apples build the foundation of the sharp and crisp sipper, and ultimately the dish.

“The bright and fresh taste of apple plays well into the ribs after the brine,” Neilson explains. “The goal was to create a bright and unexpected flavor to the ribs after a long smoke or bake. The contrast of flavors helps bring complexity to the dish.”

Square Mile Cider Apple Brined and Smoked Ribs
Serves 4

Ingredients for brine:
1 bottle (12oz) Square Mile The Original
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups water
3 cups ice
2 racks of ribs, cut in half

Ingredients for BBQ sauce:
1 bottle (12oz) Square Mile The Original
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup apple sauce
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 teaspoons smoked paprika
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ cup ketchup
¼ teaspoon liquid smoke

Directions:
In a large, gallon-sized plastic bag, pour in all brining ingredients and mix to combine. Place the ribs into the brine and seal the bag. Place on a cooking sheet or tray to catch any leakage and place in the refrigerator for 2-6 hours.

For the sauce, pour the cider into a large saucepan over medium-high heat and simmer for 5 minutes, allowing the cider to reduce by half. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the remaining ingredients. Keep stirring to combine until the sauce is thick and darkened slightly in color. Set aside to cool.

After the ribs have soaked in the brine, remove from the bag and rinse of excess brine. Place the ribs on a rack to dry. If smoking the ribs, place in a smoker on indirect smoke at 250-275° F for 2-4 hours. Apple wood is recommended.

If baking, place the ribs on a rack in the oven set at 225° F and bake for 3-4 hours or until ribs separate when pulled. Either method, layer the BBQ sauce over the ribs every hour for best glaze.

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