Smokey, Sweet, Tangy, Sticky: Ribs for a Summer Night
Friday, August 13, 2010
Ian Knauer's Sticky Balsamic Ribs are my favorite recipe from Gourmet's last July issue. Smokey, sweet, tangy and sticky, they're wonderful party food on a star-filled night when you can eat outdoors. The meat falls off the bones into your mouth in a very appealing way. Serve them with tiny new potatoes roasted with onions and whole cloves of garlic, sliced tomatoes, corn and a big salad and you've got a pretty perfect dinner. After making them again and again, I've made a few changes to the recipe that we published.
The important thing to remember is that they need a full day to marinate, so you have to think ahead.
Mash 12 large cloves of garlic with a teaspoon and a half of salt until it's a wonderful mush of a paste. Stir in 3 tablespoons of chopped rosemary, 3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar, 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons of cayenne, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Rub it all over 4 racks of baby back ribs (8 pounds). Pack the meat into a large plastic bag and let it rest in the refrigerator for a day or so.
Put the ribs in 2 pans (they should be in a single layer), add a half cup of water to each pan, cover tightly with foil and roast at 300 degrees for about 3 hours, until the meat is very tender, adding more water to the pan as needed.
Add a cup of hot water to each roasting pan and stir around, scraping up the good brown bits. Pour into a large measuring cup and allow the fat to rise to the top. Skim it off, put the remaining liquid in a skillet, add a cup of balsamic vinegar (this is the time to use the industrial kind) and a half cup of brown sugar, stir, bring to a boil and reduce it to a cup or so of glaze. This will take 15 or 20 minutes.
You can do all this ahead of time, which is very convenient if you're having a party. Just before serving, brush the glaze all over the ribs and grill over low heat for about 5 minutes, just to give it a taste of smoke. Brush with more glaze and dig in. This will make a gloriously grubby meal for about 8 people.