Do Try This At Home: Hacking Ribs — In The Pressure Cooker : The Salt Tender, smoky, fall-off-the-bone ribs can take three or four hours to make the traditional way. But Baltimore chef Shirlé Koslowski uses a pressure cooker to get all that flavor in only an hour.
NPR logo

Do Try This At Home: Hacking Ribs — In The Pressure Cooker

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Do Try This At Home: Hacking Ribs — In The Pressure Cooker

Do Try This At Home: Hacking Ribs — In The Pressure Cooker

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Barbecued ribs sound like they make for a delicious summer meal. You get a plate full of tender slow-cooked meat falling off the bone. But it will take you hours and hours of hot, sticky cooking on a steamy summer day. If that sounds a bit much right now, we've got you covered. In this week's installment of Do Try This At Home, NPR's Petra Mayer visits a chef who'll show you how to cook mouth-watering ribs in your air-conditioned kitchen in just about an hour.

PETRA MAYER, BYLINE: Shirle Koslowski lives in a funky Baltimore row house that bears witness to her other career is the bassist in a succession of indie bands. But, she is also the owner of Four Corners Cuisine, a personal chef and catering company, and that means she has to make tasty food fast. Normally, ribs take about three or four hours so...

SHIRLE KOSLOWSKI: I am going to show you guys how to make barbecued spare ribs in about 30 to 45 minutes in a pressure cooker. And it tastes exactly like you would've done in the oven, slow - low and slow, you know.

MAYER: Let's be clear, we're not talking about a Crock-Pot; we're talking about a pressure cooker. You can use a basic stovetop model, but Shirle has a fancy electric one.

KOSLOWSKI: Which is kick-ass. It's really, really awesome because you just, basically, set a time on it and just let it go. And it does everything.


MAYER: Knife properly sharp, Shirle chops a rack of baby back ribs into four chunks and rubs them with a spice mix.

KOSLOWSKI: I sprinkle this with a little bit of barbecue seasoning and you can just kind of pat it.

MAYER: You can use anything, really. Shirle makes her own spice mix with smoked paprika, and it smells amazing. The ribs go into the cooker, layered in a kind of teepee shape, along with half a cup of any kind of liquid. There has to be at least half a cup to make the steam. Shirle uses her homemade pork stock, a little bit of water and - this is important - some liquid smoke to give the meat that proper barbecue taste.

KOSLOWSKI: This one here is hickory. Mesquite is probably my favorite, but I think I've run out.

MAYER: And it's time to fire up the cooker.

KOSLOWSKI: All you do is you hit close on here, and then you are going to set the time for 30 minutes. So you hit cook, and you just start beeping it up to 30. And you don't touch it until it beeps that it's done.

MAYER: So here's the thing. Normally, on cooking shows, the chef makes two of whatever it is - one to demonstrate the preparation and one that's already magically complete, so you don't have to wait. But since these ribs are so quick, we're going to show you the whole process start to finish. And while we wait 30 whole minutes...

KOSLOWSKI: We can make our barbecue sauce.

MAYER: Because when you're having ribs, two things are essential - barbecue sauce and some cold beers. We're practicing safe sauce, here, so the beer has to wait a little while Shirle chops and measures and whisks - onions and garlic, brown sugar and ketchup, vinegar and cayenne pepper.

KOSLOWSKI: All right.

MAYER: Anything that strikes your taste buds can go in the sauce pan.

KOSLOWSKI: So, we're going to stir all these spices together, and then we're just going to let this simmer until our ribs are done. We have about 20 minutes on our ribs, so that didn't take long to make that sauce. So, while it's just sitting there, you want to try some really awesome beer? (Laughter).

MAYER: Yes, I want to try some really awesome beer.

Some of Shirle's Baltimore friends have just started a brewery, and they have supplied us with a stash of seriously tasty beer.


MAYER: Cheers.

KOSLOWSKI: (Laughter).

MAYER: Don't worry, dear listeners, we're not overindulging because it's time to get back to business. The timer on the pressure cooker has reached zero.


KOSLOWSKI: Yay, it's done. All right, let's take a look. Ta-da. That is fall-off-the-bone crazy good.

MAYER: The ribs smell fantastic, but they don't look quite right yet. So there's just one more step. Shirle brushes them with the sauce we just made and pops them in the oven for 15 minutes to get that nice, sticky barbecue crust. And then...

KOSLOWSKI: So, you can see these are just like pulling off, off of the bone. Let's try this end here. They are sweet - little kick.

MAYER: Oh, my God. That is really good.

KOSLOWSKI: (Laughter).

MAYER: The ribs truly do taste like they've been cooking all day, but it was only about an hour. Petra Mayer, NPR News.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.