A generous coating of Carolina BBQ sauce spiked with mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns make these ribs so addictive you’ll need to check ID before serving
Labor Day long weekend vibes!
What is it about the last long weekend in summer that makes me so absurdly happy and sad at the same time? Is it that in the early morning, I can feel that tell-tale fall chill in the air for about 5 minutes before the sun burns it off? Or is it that it’s still hot out but some people are trying to rock the cozy sweater look? Whatever it is, it reminds me that fall is coming, and I’ve got to take advantage of every last second of summer.
I’ve been feeling hopeful lately, which is funny because, as emo fifteen year old me would have said, fall is the season of things dying – dying prettily, but, autumn leaves are dead leaves. But, hopeful me says fall’s the season of sweaters and shorts at the same time, crispy fall days, and all the pumpkin spice things. Somehow, I grew up: weird emo kid to totally basic. Why, yes I have a pair of Uggs and I like the Chainsmokers. Growing up is all about owning the things you love and not being ashamed of who you are. Or, at least that’s what I tell myself.
So, with that, I unabashedly LOVE these ribs. Ribs are my jam. I used to make ribs at home all the time when I was in high school. Back then, it was a boil and bake situation with store bought bbq sauce and my family loved them. I am still a boil and bake ribs kind of girl because a.) we don’t have a smoker and b.) we don’t actually have a grill that will fit a whole rack of ribs. This time though, I skipped out on the boiling and broke out the sous vide because any recipe that will let me chill out and do nothing while it’s cooking is my kind of recipe.
Of course, as any good rib lover knows, ribs are all about the sauce and this sauce doesn’t disappoint. It’s an addictively sweet, spicy, vinegary North Carolina style barbecue sauce with Sichuan peppercorns. Mike came up with the idea of North Carolina sauce and I went on deep google dive. As far as the internet is concerned, Northern Carolina barbecue sauce is a sweet spicy vinegar ketchup based sauce. I put a little twist on it, adding in Sichuan chili flakes, as well as whole toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns. The result? One of the best (and only?) homemade barbecue sauces I’ve made. Sweet and tangy (thanks to a combo of ketchup and black Chinese vinegar), with that famous numbing delicate floral spiciness from the Sichuan peppercorns. Seriously finger licking good.
Happy Labor Day weekend – hope there are some sticky ribs and corn involved!
Carolina Style Ribs with Sichuan Peppercorn Recipe
makes 1 rack of ribs – prep time: 10 minutes – cook time: 4.5 hours – total time: 4.4
- 1 tablespoon Sichuan chili flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorn, toasted
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 1/8 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
- 1 rack pork back ribs
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons black Chinese vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Sichuan chili flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns, or to taste
- 1 star anise
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- sliced red onions
- sliced cucumbers
- extra Sichuan peppercorns, lightly toasted, optional