Editor's Note: Since posting this recipe just prior to last year's Fourth of July celebration, it's safe to say that this has become one of the most popular food stories that has ever run on OutdoorChannel.com. In fact, almost without fail, the reaction from those who have tried Kevin VanDam's unique barbecue rib recipe has been an enthusiastic two thumbs up. With that in mind, here is an encore presentation of how KVD prepares his Independence Day Citrus Soda ribs.
Kevin VanDam is arguably the best bass fisherman of all-time, powering his way to seven B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year titles, a FLW Tour AOY title, four Bassmaster Classic triumphs, 20 B.A.S.S. tournament wins and a Major League Fishing Summit Cup title.
He got there by often thinking outside of the box. So it shouldn’t be surprising that he has an out-of-the-box recipe for his family’s annual Fourth of July celebration.
“My favorite Fourth of July recipe is one for ribs,” said VanDam. “It’s very easy and it’s super good.”
To prepare these Independence Day ribs, KVD says to take a few racks of baby back ribs and cut them into smaller sections that can easily be managed with a pair of cooking tongs.
Then add your preferred rib seasoning: “I like a rub called Patty’s that is from the Kentucky Lake region,” said VanDam. “But you can use your own favorite rib rub or something like Tony Chachere’s.”
Once cut and seasoned, VanDam will put the ribs into a throw-away aluminum cooking pan and submerge them with a two-liter bottle of a lemon-lime soda: “Cover them with Sprite, 7-Up, Squirt or some other citrus based, non-diet soda. It’s got to have the real sugar in it.”
(Jeff Phillips photo)
Then KVD will cover the aluminum throw-away pan with tin foil and put it in the oven for three to three and a half hours at 350 degrees.
“By doing that, it boils most of the fat off of them and they become fall-apart tender,” said VanDam. “When they are finished in the oven, I put them on the grill over low heat for a just a little while – not very long – to finish them off. All you need to do then is add your favorite barbecue sauce.”
VanDam says that this rib recipe is something that has been a holiday staple in his family for a long time.
“They come out very tasty and fall-off-the-bone tender,” said KVD. “It’s not a very time consuming recipe; you don’t have to watch them and cook them for hours on end. They turn out super good and I’ve never had anyone I’ve shared this recipe with say otherwise.”
After finding VanDam willing to share his favorite rib recipe, I couldn’t help but ask him about desert.
Would he be willing to share his wife Sherry’s recipe for the famed “KVD Cookies” that he carries on his bass boat?
“Nope,” KVD laughingly replied. “Not a chance.”