Smokey. Spicy. Sweet. Fruity. Flavorful.
Chipotle-cherry barbecue sauce blends a rainbow of rich, earthy flavors into one mouthwatering, sweat-inducing, tastebud-tingling package.
Perhaps you’ve bought cherry or other fruit-based barbecue sauces before, maybe even liked them. This homemade version blasts them all out of the water. It’s not difficult to make, either. It does take a little bit of work, but it’s worth every bit of it.
We’ve been tinkering with this recipe for a while and we’ve finally come up with a version that we’re going to stick with. It’s really got something for everyone. Traditional barbecue folks will appreciate its deep, dark tomatoey base. The authentic bite of smokey, fruity dried chipotle chiles will keep fans of Southwestern cooking happy, and who doesn’t love the tart, tangy flavor of Michigan cherries? Oh – and chocolate too.
Guess what? Chipotle-cherry barbecue sauce also makes a fantastic replacement for ketchup or chili sauce. Use it liberally and use it often. We like it so much that we whip up a double-batch every time we make it. It still never lasts long enough.
This sweet & savory sauce is paired here with bone-in country-style pork ribs, but you can slather it on just about anything – poultry, beef or seafood – with equally good results. The indirect heat method makes for the most tender and flavorful ribs. If you’re using a gas grill, first preheat the grill, then turn off the middle burners. Place the ribs in the center, turning every 5 – 10 minutes. If you use charcoal, start two small piles of coals, one on each side, separated by a disposible drip pan. Whichever method you use, the results will be the same – a low, moderate heat that will slowly cook your ribs to perfection without scorching or making them tough.
Country Style Pork Ribs with Chipotle-Cherry Barbecue Sauce
- 2 pounds country style pork ribs
- 2 cups Chipotle-Cherry Barbecue Sauce (see recipe below)
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup cold water
- 2 Tbsp canola oil
- 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp sea salt
- 1-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Pat the ribs dry and place them into a large resealable plastic bag.
In a medium non-reactive bowl, stir together vinegar, water, oil, sugar, sea salt, red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper until the salt is dissolved. Pour the marinade over the ribs; press out as much air as possible and seal the bag tightly. Marinate for 4 to 6 hours in the refrigerator, or if you’re in a hurry, you can speed things up by marinating the ribs at room temperature for an hour or so. When you’re ready to cook the ribs, remove them from the marinade and lay them on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Discard the marinade.
Prepare a charcoal grill for indirect cooking or preheat a gas grill to 300 degrees F (read about the indirect charcoal grilling method above). When preheated, place the ribs on a well-oiled grate and grill them over indirect heat. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until the pork is tender and just cooked through, but still juicy. Test the internal temperature with an insertable thermometer to check for doneness. The temperature should reach 150 to 160 degrees F. Baste and turn the ribs two or three times with the Chipotle-Cherry Barbecue Sauce during last 10 minutes of grilling. Serve with extra sauce on the side.
Chipotle-Cherry Barbecue Sauce
Makes about 2 cups
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup dried tart cherries
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp light molasses
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp finely grated lemon peel
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 2 – 3 Tbsps chipotle chile paste, or to taste
(see previous recipe, “Morel-stuffed Burgers on Grilled Garlic Toast with Chipotle-Lime Mayonnaise” for chile paste instructions)
- 2 Tbsp finely minced onion
- 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Place the dried cherries in a small heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 15 – 20 minutes or until softened.
Drain the cherries and add them along with the other ingredients to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Puree with a hand-held immersible blender, or pour into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Cool completely, then cover tightly and refrigerate. Once made, the sauce can be stored for several weeks.
Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.
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