One of the popular activities my 4-H kids participate in at the county fair each year is the Dutch Oven Contest.
Kids form teams of 3-5 people, including at least one adult to supervise and set up a little “camp” on the large blacktop area near the farm buildings. Each team has a can enter any of the categories such as breakfast, main course, dessert, etc. and when their entry is cooked, they take a dish to be judged and then share the rest with all the other teams.
It draws a huge crowd because food cooked over fire tends to do that.
It is so much fun and we find new favorites every year.
This year we tasted some pork ribs that were jaw dropping good. You should have seen our faces. I have never tasted a sauce so complex and delicious. A good amount of heat, a little sweet, citrus, and some smoke combines in a delectable sauce.
If you like campfire cooking, you will love this recipe. If not – you can adjust it for the oven, grill, or any other method you usually use. I just don’t have instructions for most of those, so try it and see.
Now, I do have my own twist – we used our home grown rabbit and I adapted it to the crockpot (or slow cooker depending on where ya’ll are from). I’ll give the original recipe as written and then my rabbit version.
Slow Tickled Western Ribs
Dutch Oven with a lid
A place to build a fire.
3 pounds western style pork ribs, *par-boiled and fat trimmed off
*par-boil – place ribs in pot of boiling water and boil on low 40 minutes or until they start to become tender. Drain, trim fat off, then proceed with the rub.
Seasoning for the meat
Mix up 1 teaspoon of each and rub into the meat after you have par-boiled it.
Salt, ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder
Sauce Ingredients – Prepare but DO NOT MIX
6-8 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
3 medium sized sweet onions, thinly sliced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 11 oz can mandarin oranges
1 cup honey BBQ sauce
1/2 cup hot sauce
For a Dutch oven campfire
Make your fire or light the briquettes. This recipe uses 24 charcoal briquettes, but if you are a campfire cooking pro, then adjust it to your preferred method.
In a 14 inch dutch oven WITH A LID, layer the ingredients in the following order:
Celery, onions, ribs, tomatoes with juice, Mandarin oranges with juice, BBQ sauce, hot sauce
Cover and bake for approximately 2 hours, using 17 briquettes on the lid, and 7 underneath. When the meat is falling off the bones, it is ready.
Vicki’s adaptations for using rabbit instead of pork ribs…
I tested this recipe with our home raised rabbit and it was great! I served it with rice – like a stew.
I used my method for smoking the rabbits first, then I put everything in the crockpot to finish. I started the sauce in the crockpot at the same time I put the rabbit in the smoker so that it would be hot and ready to finish cooking together.
*If you don’t have a smoker or fire making skills, I would try oven braising the rabbit or ribs with the sauce and maybe add a couple drops of liquid smoke. I think it would turn out fine but I haven’t tested it.
This is the rabbit after it was finished…