A Love Affair

4 08 2011

On Monday, Chloe made you all drool with our pictures from this month’s Eating Club. Yes, it’s ok to be jealous. Maybe one day there will be an eating club near you! (Um, that means YOU need to start one!) 🙂

Anyhow, Chloe mentioned that I made ribs for our berry-themed meal. Who associates ribs with berries? Me apparently. I was worried that we’d have a lack of main entrees for our Berry BBQ, so I did some searching on Tastespotting, and came up with a recipe from The Feral Kitchen for Strawberry Chipotle Beef Ribs. We’re not going to talk about that blog’s name right now, but I decided that THIS would be my recipe.

I was being pretty ambitious selecting this recipe because A) it required me to make my own barbeque sauce, which I’ve never done and B) it required me to make ribs, which I’ve never done either.

But, as soon as I saw that the recipe included Dr. Pepper, I knew I had to make it.

Confession: I have always had a thing for Dr. Pepper. I don’t drink a lot of soda, but if I need a caffeine boost and coffee won’t cut it, Diet Dr. Pepper is my beverage of choice. However, one time while visiting my cousin in North Carolina, I discovered Cheerwine.


If you have never tried Cheerwine, drive (or fly) yourself to the closest quickie mart in North Carolina and grab a 6-pack. It’s like Dr. Pepper…but, dare I say, better? (Side note: Cheerwine is a soda, or pop, or cola, or coke or whatever you call a carbonated beverage. It has no alcohol in it.)

I’ve had this one bottle of Cheerwine in my fridge that I’ve been saving since my last NC visit, and normally I would partake in the best way to enjoy Cheerwine, that is, to drink it. But I didn’t have any Dr. Pepper on hand for my recipe and I didn’t feel like leaving my air conditioned home to go to the store to buy some soda, so I figured Cheerwine would make a fine replacement. Sorry Dr. Pepper, but I’m cheating on you with Cheerwine. 😉

So, I gathered my ingredients for the sauce:

Strawberries, chipotle peppers, brown sugar, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, Cheerwine, soy sauce, sweet brown rice syrup, seasoned salt

The original recipe calls for “Indonesian soy sauce” which I didn’t have or want to go find, so I just used regular soy sauce and stirred in a few tablespoons of brown rice syrup.  Google suggests a combo of molasses and chicken stock as a replacement for Indonesian soy sauce.

I put all of them into a pot, and let them cook on medium low heat.

The recipe said this takes 45 minutes. I, however, think I kept my heat too low, and so it took a lot longer (basically, when you make it, just keep an eye on it, stirring occasionally, and let it thicken). In fact, while everything was cooking, I did a Jillian Michaels workout DVD. Yes, I am the master of multitasking.

While the sauce was simmering, I prepped the ribs. I tossed them with some of my homemade “Indonesian soy sauce,” some Cheerwine, and some salt and pepper, and let them marinate in the fridge until I was ready to put them in the oven.

2.5 hours before  I needed to leave for Eating Club, I put the ribs in a foil-lined baking pan. I baked them at 350° for about 1.5 hours, and then pulled them out and glazed them with the finally-the-right-thickness Strawberry Chipotle BBQ sauce. I popped ’em back in the oven under the broiler (on low) for another 3o minutes (15 on each side), until the sauce was caramelizing on top of the ribs.


When I arrive at Eating Club, I tossed them on the grill for a few minutes, just to heat them through again. Then, we could all dig in.

Let me tell you, these ribs were all about the sauce. Best. BBQ sauce. EVER! It has the slight sweetness from the strawberries and hint of smoky heat from the chipotle. The flavor was really complex, and we definitely decided it would taste good on everything. We tested that theory, even putting the BBQ sauce on Allie’s cranberry walnut bread. Yup, we were right.

But don’t take my word for it. Go make some yourself. You won’t regret it. I think Dr. Pepper will be okay with it.

Strawberry-Chipotle BBQ Ribs

adapted from Feral Kitchen


  • 2 large racks beef ribs (about 7 pounds)
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown rice syrup or molasses
  • 4oz Cheerwine
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Strawberry Chipotle BBQ Sauce (see recipe below)

How to:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wash, trim and cut into individual beef ribs.  Toss ribs in a large bowl and drizzle on  soy sauce, brown rice syrup,  and rub with salt and pepper.  On a foil lined pan (or large cookie sheet) place ribs.  Cover with more foil and put in the oven.  Bake for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until tender.  Remove foil and brush with sauce.  Turn on the broiler and broil until sauce is slightly caramelized.  Turn ribs over and brush with more sauce.  Broil again until caramelized.

BBQ Sauce

  • 1 lb. strawberries (cleaned, hulled and quartered)
  • 1 can (12 oz) Cheerwine
  • 1 c. tomato ketchup
  • 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 3 Tbls. soy sauce + 1/2 Tbls. sweet rice syrup
  • 2 Tbls. chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 tsp. seasoning salt

Toss all the ingredients into a medium sauce pan. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Remove from heat and cool. Eat it on everything.

Question of the day: What’s your favorite kind of BBQ sauce?