Growing up Italian meant a lot of home cooked meals. There used to be a time when I’d have said that home-cooked meals beat restaurant food every time… and then I tried these Sweet Bar B Barn Ribs.
Do you remember the first restaurant you went to without your parents? Well, I do, and it was the Bar-B-Barn right here in Montreal. It’s been opened ever since 1967 and has since become somewhat of a city landmark. It was my Mom’s youngest sister, Aunt Lil, who treated my siblings and I. We felt so grown up walking into a restaurant without our parents being there! This was also the very first time I tasted ribs basted in a sweet sauce (these sort of meals were not in my mom’s repertoire!) I can still remember that summer evening: it was humid and pouring rain, but no bad weather could dampen our spirits. We were all so excited as we waited for what seemed forever in the long line-up. Good times!
So, there I was, thirteen years old, feeling all grown up, forgetting all table manners my parents taught me and eating Sweet Bar B Barn Ribs with my fingers. When I told my mom about these ribs later on, she just could not believe that restaurant food could be better than a home cooked meal. Ahhh, growing up Italian…in the 70’s!!! Up until that particular moment, those were the best ribs I had ever eaten.
Fast forward a few decades later…I am preparing ribs, at home with a copycat version of the recipe for Sweet Bar B Barn Ribs. Because I grew up Italian, and I know that when restaurant food is good… a home-cooked version of it is better!! Isn’t it funny how everything always comes back full circle? My mom would certainly be proud.
Origins of the recipe for Sweet Bar B Barn Ribs:
Decades ago, my cousin Mary, who loves the local newspaper, the Montreal Gazette, informed me that the recipe for the infamous Sweet Bar B Barn Ribs was featured in the Food Section. That was a very happy day for me. Over the years, time and time again, there have been wonderful recipes to be found in the Food Section of the Gazette. (If you like thick homemade soups, you need to try this easy white bean soup, also courtesy of the Gazette.)
I found the original recipe for the sauce to be a little too sweet, so I decreased the amount of brown sugar. (My husband still finds it a little sweet, but he is in the minority). I kept all the other measurements the same.
I will also use my chunky homemade applesauce for this recipe. Feel free to use a commercial brand that is unsweetened.
I have also included my method of preparing the ribs in the recipe. Now, I know that I am opening up Pandora’s box by writing that I boil my ribs before cooking or barbecuing them. I have had my share of discussions with so many friends and family over the years. I am always interested in knowing how everyone prepares their ribs, and particularly what motivates people to boil or not boil their ribs prior to baking or barbecuing with the sauce. I have come to the conclusion that it really boils down to personal choice and taste (please excuse the pun, but I couldn’t resist!) Every time I serve these ribs, I have yet to hear someone complain about the taste.
So, whether or not you boil your ribs before cooking them, you really should try this sauce for Sweet Bar-B-Barn Ribs. As an appetizer or main event, or whether baking, barbecuing or slow cooking, these Sweet Bar B Barn Ribs are guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser. Restaurant style ribs in the comfort of your home. Perhaps you can try them for Father’s Day? I’d love to know whether or not you boil your ribs! Enjoy!!!
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Ciao for now!
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Sweet Bar-B-Barn Ribs
- 4 lbs baby back ribs pork or beef
- 2 bay leafs
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 celery stalk chopped in half
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 1½ cups brown sugar
- 1 cup applesauce unsweetened
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 cloves garlic fresh, minced
- Place the ribs in a large pot.
- Cover with cold water.
- Add herbs and vegetables.
Bring water to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour or until ribs are tender (meanwhile you can make the sauce).
- Remove ribs from pot and place in a shallow glass baking dish.
- While the ribs are simmering, whisk all the ingredients for the sauce in a medium sized pan over low heat.
- Simmer for 20-30 minutes, occasionally whisking the sauce.
- Brush sauce on one side of the ribs.
- Place in oven and cook for 45 minutes at 350 ° F
- Turn ribs over and baste with more sauce.
- Continue cooking for another 45 minutes.
I will use my homemade chunky applesauce for this recipe.
If barbecuing, place ribs on greased grill on medium heat. Baste with sauce. Continue turning and basting for about 15 minutes or until meat is nicely grilled and sauce is caramelized.
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is just a rough estimate and variations can occur depending on the specific ingredients used.
*adapted from recipe found in The Montreal Gazette
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