Cola ribs are becoming increasingly popular with backyard and even competition barbecuers. Unfortunately, the sugary cola can burn on the outside of the ribs and the cola flavor is often minimal. The secret to harnessing cola flavor is to tame the soda's sweetness and augment its base flavors with similar spices.
Why This Recipe Works
Pork ribs marinated in various types of cola, slow-grilled to perfection, and finished with a cola-infused glaze are becoming increasingly popular at backyard barbecues and even professional competitions. But every existing cola-barbecued ribs recipe that we tried turned out burned to a crisp and barely edible. We wanted a version that avoided these pitfalls. We found that cola-barbecued ribs recipes that marinated the ribs in cola burned quickly on the grill, so we skipped this step and added cola flavor with five-spice powder. Merely adding cola to our barbecue sauce was a nonstarter. We found that a homemade sauce allowed us to pair ingredients that brought out the cola flavor in our Cola-Barbecued Ribs. Tasters liked the flavor of onion in our sauce, but not the texture. Pureeing the onion before adding it to the sauce solved the problem. No matter how much soda we added, our sauce barely registered any cola flavor. Reducing the cola down to a syrup before adding it to the sauce gave us cola-barbecued ribs that finally tasted like cola.