Monday, September 28, 2009

Sticky Balsamic Ribs

When Jim and I took our engagement photos, the photographer asked Jim to look down and talk to me...about anything. Jim looked like he was drawing a blank, and then he said to me "The Bronco's play on Sunday and experts say..." I didn't hear what he said after that. I was laughing so hard. Our photographer quickly caught on and anytime during the day he wanted to see that "sparkle" in Jim's eye, he would strike up a conversation about the Broncos. Needless to say, Jim is passionate about football and especially the Denver Broncos. Another way to get Jim's eyes to sparkle, mention BBQ Ribs. And I'm sure after the Broncos, and after BBQ Ribs, you mention ME and his eyes will light up too!

Today, because it's Sunday and the Broncos are playing, and because I'm leaving on a work trip for five days, I'm making Ribs so all Jim's favorite things can collide in one day. It will be a joy overload!

I'm using a recipe from the July 2009 issue of Gourmet Magazine, a recipe developed by food editor, Ian Knauer. I like the bones of this recipe (pun intended) but because of what I have on hand and the time I have, I'm actually not following this recipe exact...but since when do I follow a recipe exact? Ha!

I believe the success of these ribs...any ribs... lies in a straightforward three-part process. Long marinating in a sweet, garlicky rub ensures the ribs soak up loads of flavor. Next, a leisurely roast in the oven makes them fall-off-the-bone tender. Finally, a mop of balsamic-brown-sugar glaze and a few minutes on the grill gives the ribs a whiff of smokiness and caramelizes their edges.

Here is what you need to gather for the ribs: 8 large garlic cloves, minced. 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary - I used a mix of dried and fresh. 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar, dark is preferred but I only had regular brown sugar. 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon cayenne.

A note about ribs: Recipe calls for 8 lb baby back pork ribs but if you can only get larger ribs (4 racks), you will need more glaze; use 12 large garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary, 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar, 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Ribs can be roasted and glaze can be made 1 day ahead and chilled separately (covered once cool). Bring to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before glazing and grilling. Ribs can be broiled 3 to 4 inches from heat (instead of grilled) about 8 minutes.

The first thing to do is to peel off the membrane from the back of the ribs, yes it's gross, but not as gross as touching fish skin! Removing the membrane is an important first step.

To make the marinade, mince and mash garlic to a paste with 1 tsp salt.

Stir together with rosemary,

brown sugar, vinegar,

cayenne, 1 Tbsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper.

Put ribs in a big roasting pan and rub the marinade evenly all over ribs.

Don't be afraid to get right in there with you hands!

My addition is about 2-3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce. Marinate, chilled, 8 to 24 hours.

I'm going to cook these LOW and SLOW! Sunday before we go to church, I preheat the oven to 170 degrees and let the ribs cook for 3 hours, uncovered.

After 3 hours in the oven.

Then when we return to the house I add 1/2 cup water to the pan, turn the heat up to 400, cover the pan tightly with foil and braise for 2 hours, until meat is falling off the bone.

Ribs after one hour at high temperature.

Remove ribs from the roasting pan and cover with foil.

Add 1 cup hot water to the roasting pan and scrape up brown bits.

Add 1 cup balsamic vinegar and 1/2 cup packed brown sugar and continue to stir and scrape.

Next, I used my gravy skimmer to separate the fat from the drippings and sauce.

Transfer liquid to a saucepan and bring to a boil.

I let this violently boil for about 15 minutes until it was reduced to about one cup of liquid.

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-heat.

Brush some of the glaze onto both sides of ribs. Grill, turning occasionally, until ribs are hot and grill marks appear, about 6 minutes.

You could say these are FALL OFF THE BONE good.

Brush ribs with more glaze and serve remaining glaze on the side.

Jim and I have been talking about a "Rib Cook-Off" and I'm sure to WIN with this recipe. I loved the sticky and sweet flavor - these are finger licking good. Next time I would add a little more cayenne pepper, the ribs had a slow heat, but I would have liked them a tad bit spicier.

I have one more note. I have labeled this post "meat, ribs, easy" because I promise you that this recipe is super easy. Cooking ribs sounds so intimidating, but I swear to you there are three steps. Remember to plan ahead... buy the meat a day or two early, make a rub and let them marinade overnight...then you put them in the oven! And walk away! Finish on the grill, or not, you could also finish them under a broiler. I wouldn't lie to you. Impress your friends, impress your spouse, impress your neighbors... make these for your next gathering (or football game) and I am confident you will be named "Champ of Ribs."


  1. look GORGEOUS! (Jim doesn't look half bad, either!) ;)

  2. I married a rib man too! There is nothing better than sticky, fingerlicking ribs though-especially on Football Sundays.

  3. Those ribs look amazing! My boys could eat those all day. And you gotta love that gravy skimmer!


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