A low carb and sugar free barbecue sauce is a tricky business. Especially because I’m partial to my friend Ann’s sauce, which is the best I’ve ever had but does have sugar in it. It’s got the perfect balance of sweet and sour, the sweet coming from assorted fruit jams. Given that sugar isn’t good for me, I really wanted to find a sugar free and low carb sauce that I could use on a regular basis, instead of having to relegate my rib eating to the occasional treat when we have dinner at Ann’s house.
I served these barbecued ribs to 6 discerning rib eaters, one of whom is a native Texan. All of them really try to eat low carb and sugar free, but none are fanatic about it. So it’s not as if their palates are skewed because they’ve forgotten what normal barbecue sauce tastes like. The sauce got total rave reviews. I had a bowl of extra sauce at the table and everyone happily spooned more onto their ribs. This barbecue sauce tastes great on chicken too!
There are a few things to know about this BBQ sauce – erythritol will caramelize, but not to the same extent as sugar. The ribs will brown nicely but don’t expect them to caramelize like a sugary sauce. The recipe calls for liquid smoke. It sounds toxic doesn’t it? If smoking is bad for you, how can eating water that has been smoked be good? I’ve researched it and found an excellent article on Nutrition Facts.org. It turns out that liquid smoke is OK. Wright’s liquid smoke is gluten free, unlike some other brands.
Cooking ribs seems like a daunting proposition. The ribs need to be cooked before you grill them. The grilling is not to actually cook the ribs, but to cook the the sauce onto the ribs and caramelize them. The traditional rib cooking method is to boil them first. Boiling a few racks of whole ribs is actually kind of a daunting proposition. It smells terrible, greasy boiling, foamy rib water splashes around onto the stovetop, and then you need to heave this huge pot of hot water and ribs from the stove to the sink to pour it out when they’re done.
There is a MUCH better way. Easy and hassle free. Just bake them in a roasting pan covered tightly with foil. No fuss and nothing to do after you close the oven door. Also no terrible smells.
If you have dogs that you like to pamper – after you remove the cooked ribs from the pan there will be lots of liquid in the pan. Pour it into a bowl, cover and let cool. Remove the hardened fat from the top and you’ll have a bowl of yummy, gelled pork juice to put on your dog’s food.
- For the Barbecue Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 28 oz. can tomato sauce (I use Muir Glen brand)
- 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons tamari sauce
- 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (make sure it has no sugar in it), found in the Asian food section of most grocery stores. Can also substitute 2 additional tablespoons tamari sauce
- 5 tablespoons erythritol
- 1 tablespoon Tabasco (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons liquid smoke (Wright's or another gluten free brand)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- For the Ribs:
- 2 whole racks of pork spare ribs (I like baby back ribs)
- Precook the Ribs:
- Bake the ribs while you're making the barbecue sauce . Preheat oven to 300°. Place whole racks of ribs in a roasting pan. They can be stacked on top of each other. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until they are cooked through, no pink remains when you cut into one, and they have shrunk so that about 1/4 inch of bone is exposed at the end of the ribs. About 1 hour.
- Remove from oven and cut into either single ribs or groups of two ribs for easier grilling.
- Make the Barbecue Sauce:
- Melt butter in a saucepan large enough to hold all of the ingredients. Saute onions on medium-high heat until softened and lightly browned. Turn off heat and add all the other ingredients. Stir, taste and add a little more of whatever you think it needs. The sauce is very forgiving, so go for it.
- Heat sauce and stir. Put cornstarch in a small dish and mix 1/4 cup of the warm sauce into the cornstarch and stir in. Add the cornstarch mixture into the sauce and stir.
- Simmer sauce on medium for about 10-15 minutes to combine flavors and allow the sauce to thicken slightly. May be used warm or at room temperature. Keeps covered and chilled in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
- Grill the Ribs:
- Heat grill and when hot, coat ribs in sauce and place on grill. Since ribs are already fully cooked, the grilling is just to brown them and caramelize the sauce. Grill until nicely browned, turn over and grill on the other side. Serve hot with warm additional barbecue sauce on the side.