Wine Wednesday: All about the Barbeque Ribs

Rib aficionados will debate for hours the finer points that they think make a certain style or region in America the best. In Memphis, for example, ribs are generally slowly smoked over a wood fire and then are served au natural as they come out of the smoker or grill; only afterward is the sauce added. In Kansas, arguably this country’s epicenter of barbecue, pork ribs tend to be stickier and sweeter. And in Texas, where beef reigns over pork, the sauce is more often tomato-based and spicy with a hint of vinegar. Then there are the Carolinas, where vinegar mixes with brown sugar, mustard and some hot seasoning, like chile peppers.

Internationally, you’ll find even more options. Mexicans have cooked ribs wrapped in banana leaves in a pit for centuries. Southeast Asian sweetly hot–sauced ribs can be cooked in bite-size morsels perfect for nibbling, and Goan ribs reflect that culture’s love of tangy sour flavors tempered with sweet notes. Try these recipes to liven up your rib repertoire. As for what to drink…hmmm, anything you want.  Enjoy!

Thai Glazed Spare Ribs

Yield: Serves 24 (½ rack or 6-rib) portions  – Preparation time: 25 minutes plus unattended cooking time

These addictive and deeply flavored ribs make a great starter as part of a larger Thai meal, or they can be served as a main course.

For the ribs:
12 ounces scallions, including greens, coarsely chopped
12 ounces shallots, peeled and coarsely chopped
7 ounces fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
3 ounces garlic
5 ounces cilantro, coarse stems removed, coarsely chopped
3 ounces light brown sugar
9 ounces soy sauce
3 ounces Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
12 pounds pork spare ribs, cut across the bone into 2- to 3-inch lengths and cut into
individual ribs

For the Hot and Sweet Thai Dipping Sauce:
1½ pounds sugar
20 ounces water
4 ounces fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
3 ounces fresh lemongrass,
coarsely chopped with outer leaves removed
2 to 3 ounces red and green
chiles, to desired heat level, seeded and chopped
2 ounces garlic cloves
3 ounces Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
3 ounces rice vinegar
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ounces scallions, finely chopped including green parts
1 ounce fresh coriander, finely chopped with thick stems removed

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine scallions, shallots, ginger, garlic, cilantro and brown sugar; pulse until finely chopped. Add soy sauce, fish sauce, salt and pepper, and process into a fairly fine paste. Scrape mixture into 2 or 3 large, heavy plastic bags, add ribs, turn to cover completely, close and let marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator, turning occasionally.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line several sheet pans with parchment papers. Spread the ribs, bone-side down, on the pans and bake for about 1½ hours or until ribs are mahogany in color and very tender, reversing the pans’ position twice during cooking time.

3. While ribs are cooking, prepare the Hot and Sweet Thai Dipping Sauce: In a large non-reactive saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until mixture becomes syrupy, about
15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in the work bowl of a food processor, combine ginger, lemongrass, chiles and garlic and pulse until finely chopped. Add mixture to the syrup and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in fish sauce, vinegar and lime juice. Cool, stir in scallions and coriander, and refrigerate.

Yucatán-Style Baby Back Ribs with Spicy Cherry Glaze

Yield: 24 (½ rack or 8- to 10-ounce) portions  –  Preparation time: 30 minutes plus unattended cooking time – Shelf life: 5 days

Ivy Stark is a talented executive chef for the Dos Caminos restaurants in New York and Florida. Her succulent baby-back ribs are cooked Yucatán style—which, in Mexico, would be made in a pit. Here, the ribs are wrapped in banana leaves, covered with spices and orange juice, and baked.

For the ribs:

Banana leaves, available from Latin food suppliers
2 bunches thyme, chopped
2 bunches oregano, chopped
1 bunch rosemary, chopped
16 ounces sliced shallots
5 ounces sliced garlic
12 bay leaves
2 tablespoons whole allspice
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
¼ cup achiote paste
12 racks baby back ribs, rinsed in cold water and patted dry
10 lemons, sliced
10 limes, sliced
1½ quarts orange juice
Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish
For the Spicy Cherry Glaze:
1 ounce vegetable oil
1 ounce garlic, minced
8 ounces red onion, diced
2 ounces fresh ginger, minced
1½ quarts frozen sour cherries
2 ounces reposado tequila
3 ounces Sriracha hot sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 ounce sherry wine vinegar
4 ounces soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange banana leaves in the bottom of a deep full-size hotel pan large enough so the ribs will be completely covered.

2. In a bowl, combine thyme, oregano, rosemary, shallots, garlic, bay leaves, allspice, cumin, coriander and achiote paste. Lay ribs in the pan and distribute seasoning mixture evenly. Add lemons and limes, pour orange juice over the meat, cover pan with foil, seal tightly and bake for 1½ hours. Remove, leave pan covered, and cool the ribs to room temperature.

3. Once cool, transfer ribs to sheet pans and refrigerate for up to 24 hours if not using right away.

4. Prepare the Spicy Cherry Glaze: In a medium-size skillet over medium heat, combine oil, garlic, onion, ginger and cherries and sauté until lightly browned. Stir in tequila, hot sauce, sesame oil, sherry wine vinegar and soy sauce and simmer for 15 minutes; season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Generously coat ribs with the glaze. Heat broiler and place the rack about 5 inches from the heat. Broil for 10 minutes to crisp the glaze; sprinkle on sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Goan-Style Baby Back Ribs

Yield: 24 (6-rib) portions  – Preparation time: 20 minutes plus unattended cooking time  – Shelf life: 5 days

The cuisine of Goa, on India’s southwestern coast, is fish-based. The blend of several cultural traditions, however—primarily Portuguese, Konkan and the Bahamani Nawabi—has also given rise to several local pork dishes that are eaten by local Christians, according to Walter D’Rozario, chef de cuisine at Junoon Restaurant in New York City.

12 ounces Goan vinegar or apple cider vinegar
12 ounces Worcestershire sauce
12 ounces ketchup
3 ounces puréed garlic
2 ounces jaggery or light brown sugar
2 ounces puréed fresh ginger
2 tablespoons chile powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon mustard powder
3 tablespoons salt or to taste
4 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper or to taste
12 whole slabs pork spare ribs with excess fat trimmed
4 ounces vegetable oil

1. In a bowl, whisk together vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, garlic, brown sugar, ginger, chile powder, cumin, mustard, salt and pepper. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary. Put ribs in large resealable plastic bags; pour marinade over the ribs, seal bags and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

2. Remove ribs from the marinade and reserve the liquid. Heat oil in a heavy skillet or skillets and, working in batches, sear the ribs evenly. Transfer ribs to sheet pans, cover tightly with tin foil, and bake at 325 degrees F until just tender, about 80 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, transfer reserved marinade to a pan and reduce over high heat until it thickens to the consistency of barbecue sauce. Coat ribs with the sauce and return to oven for 10 to 15 minutes longer. Remove and serve.

Goan-Style Baby Back Ribs

Yield: 24 (6-rib) portions  – Preparation time: 20 minutes plus unattended cooking time  – Shelf life: 5 days

Special thanks to Joanna Pruess for these yummy delights.


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