Caramel Pork Ribs Recipe

This Caramel Pork Ribs Recipe gives a sweet and tangy twist to a regular household favorite.

From "My Paris Kitchen"
May 2014

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ten years ago, David Lebovitz packed up his most treasured cookbooks, a well-worn cast-iron skillet, and his laptop and moved to Paris. In that time, culinary culture of France has shifted as a new generation of chefs and home cooks incorporates ingredients and techniques from around the world into traditional French dishes. In My Paris Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2014), Lebovitz remasters classic French dishes in a way that reflects the modern Parisian diet. Try this Caramel Pork Ribs Recipe from the “Main Courses” section for a new take on this classic dish.

You can purchase this book from the Capper’s Farmer store: My Paris Kitchen.

Caramel Pork Ribs Recipe

Whenever I tell friends in Paris how great Texas is, and how friendly Texans are, they’re shocked; I think they imagine that gunslingers are roaming the towns, having shoot-outs on the dusty streets of Houston and Dallas, with dastardly villains galloping away on horseback. I don’t know if there are still any saloons with swinging double doors left in Texas, but I can say with certainty that the people in Texas do know how to eat. And whenever I go, I do my best to get my fill of good ol’ Texas barbecue.

The French enjoy ribs just as much as their Wild West counter-parts. And many cafés—albeit without swinging double doors—feature travers du porc au caramel as the plat du jour at lunchtime, which is announced on chalkboards in that decidedly French cursive writing. The ribs are a little more refined than in Texas, and you won’t see anyone in Paris picking up their ribs with their hands at the table (unless they want to be seen as outlaws) as Americans do, but it’s nice to know that Parisians can get down with a rack of ribs, albeit in their own way.

Americans are also known for our love of ketchup, which some people seem to put on everything. Judging from the shelves and shelves of ketchup in the supermarkets here, along with le sauce barbecue, it’s obvious that the French are shooting down the notion that Americans are the only ones enjoying the readily available red sauce. In fact, it’s been whispered that some of the great French chefs add a soupçon of it to sauces to give them body and flavor, as I do in my barbecue sauce.

Serve these Caramel Pork Ribs French-style with plain rice or with mashed potatoes and raw vegetable slaw.


  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (45g) firmly packed brown sugar, light or dark
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) beer
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) bourbon
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 (1/2-inch/2cm) piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons harissa, Sriracha sauce, or another hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 pounds (1.8 kg) pork ribs, cut into 3- or 4-rib portions


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).

2. Spread the granulated sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a large pot with a cover, such as a roasting pan or a Dutch oven. Cook the sugar over medium heat until it starts to melt around the edges. When the liquefied sugar just starts to darken to a pale copper color, stir the sugar inward and continue to cook, stirring until the sugar is completely moistened. Continue to cook the sugar, stirring infrequently, until all of it is a deep copper-colored liquid, similar in color to dark maple syrup, and smoking (but not burnt). Turn off the heat and stir in the brown sugar, then add the beer. The mixture will seize and harden, which is normal.

3. Let the mixture cool down a bit, then stir in the bourbon, cider vinegar, ketchup, ginger, soy sauce, harissa, mustard, and pepper. Put the ribs in the pot and turn on the heat until the sauce boils and bubbles up. Turn the ribs a few times in the liquid, cover, and roast in the oven for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until the ribs are tender. During the roasting, remove them from the oven and turn the ribs over two or three times.

4. Remove the lid from the pot and continue to roast, turning the ribs a few times, for 30 minutes more, or until the juices have thickened a bit. Remove from the oven, skim any visible fat from the surface of the liquid, and serve.

More From My Paris Kitchen

Onion Tart Recipe
French Onion Soup Recipe

Reprinted with permission from My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz and published by Ten Speed Press, 2014. Buy this book from our store: My Paris Kitchen.