Ribs epitomize backyard summer BBQs. With the summer rapidly approaching, there will be plenty of rib variations in my future.
Nutrition at a glance
-Baby back ribs are are fairly high in fat. A four ounce serving (about 2 ribs) contains approximately 230 calories, seventy percent (about 18 grams) of which come from fat. Though occasionally eating foods like baby back ribs is fine for most active people without health concerns, it’s probably best to not make them a part of your day to day diet.
-A four ounce serving of baby back ribs contains about 18 grams of protein.
-Traditional BBQ sauces can be heavy in sugars, and often contain artificial colors, flavors and preservatives – unnecessary.
When I think of ribs, I think of Dave Chappelle. Just throwing that out there.
Food is communal, there is no question about it. In fact, historically it is probably one of the most communal parts of any society, along with music and dance. And that is one of the reasons I like it. It provides a way for a group of people to share the same sensory experience, bringing them together in a moment of enjoyment – a hell of a lot more compelling than commenting on the weather, an alternative, albeit gouge-out-my-eyes-with-boredom way for people to draw on a sensory experience for mutuality. This recipe demonstrates the communality of food in its finest sense.
One of the things I love about living where I live is that there is never a shortage of back yard BBQs to attend in the spring and summer. On any given weekend you’ll know somebody who knows somebody who is having a BBQ – and all are welcome. It’s always an event comprised of like-minded people, gathering around music, art, food and drinks, and inevitably a few local chefs are on hand prepared to impress. This was the case a few weekends ago when my buddy Nick called me up and let me know that our friend Tony had his grill fired up and people were flocking.
I had raced Xterra that morning and was in particular need of relaxation via food and drink. We showed up and immediately started digging in to the guac, and as fortune would have it, I found myself in the right place at the right time as somebody walked by with a plate of hot-off-the-grill ribs. I indiscriminately grabbed one, and was instantly sold. It was like no rib I had ever had before (maybe the second most important rib in history – I debated simply calling this recipe “Eve”) – the predominant flavor was fresh Parmesan cheese, which was generously shaved over the top. In fact, I think the only preparation the ribs underwent was a salt and pepper rub, beer poured over the top of them while cooking, then a healthy dose of Parmesan immediately after being pulled off the flames. I was blown away and immediately grateful to the BBQ chef who would remain unidentified.
This recipe is a variation of the rib I enjoyed that Saturday afternoon at Tony’s Venice apartment, but it gets the message across – and then some. I finished these in the oven under high heat, though if you are able to, tossing them on the grill to finish is also a great option. Though here I prescribe a braise in a balsamic-porter sauce, in the future I’ll make this again and simply slow cook the ribs with a light lager, salt and pepper them, and top with the Parmesan cheese. The end result will be drastically different, though it’s hard to say one is any better than the other.
-2 racks baby back ribs
-1/2 c balsamic vinegar, plus 1/2 c
-6 oz porter beer
-1 T maple syrup
-2 t Worcestershire sauce
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-crushed red pepper
-salt and pepper
Active time: 25 minutes
Total time: About 3 hours
To start, preheat oven to 250 degrees. Generously cover the ribs with salt and pepper. Combine 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, porter and garlic in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Lay each rack of ribs on a sheet of aluminum foil, shiny side out, with plenty of excess foil around the edges. Wrap the ribs in the foil, leaving one end open allowing you to pour the braise into the foil container (note: be careful not to puncture foil with ribs allowing liquid to escape). Place the wrapped ribs in preheated oven and cook about 2.5 hours.
Once cooked, remove ribs from oven and drain braising liquid into a sauce pan – DO NOT DISCARD. Bring the braising liquid over medium to medium-high heat, stir near constantly, allowing to reduce until it reaches the consistency of BBQ sauce. Because the liquid is hot, you will want to remove it from the heat a little sooner than you think.
Increase oven heat to 450 deg.
Using a kitchen brush, paint the balsamic sauce on the ribs. Place in oven to finish. Caramelizing the glaze will only take about 2-4 minutes, so watch ribs carefully so they don’t burn.
Top with any additional balsamic sauce, crushed red pepper, and shaved Parmesan cheese.
Powered by Facebook Comments
Recipe ID: 964