Spicy Honey-Glazed Baby-Back Pork Ribs  Recipe
Spicy Honey-Glazed Baby-Back Pork Ribs

By Wolfgang Puck

Great Ribs Indoors or Out

The longer days and warmer weather hold the promise of grilling under bright, clear skies while we protect ourselves with not much more than a light sweater or jacket -- along with a fireproof grilling glove or mitt, of course.

Spareribs are one of my favorite grilled foods. And the good news about cooking them is that you don't even need a grill, or good weather, to enjoy them.

Many people may think that grilled ribs cook entirely on the grill. In fact, the sort that cook to perfection outdoors result from long, slow cooking over low temperatures in a smoker, or on a large covered grill using the indirect-heat technique, with frequent basting and checking to make sure the meat doesn't dry out. And that process is a lot more demanding than many home cooks want to deal with.

One of the most successful ways for the average home cook to get great "grilled" ribs is to do most of the cooking indoors, in your oven. Gently baked for a couple of hours with some flavorful liquid in which the ribs also marinated, the meat turns fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth tender. Then, all the ribs need are a few more minutes on the grill to give them a crisply glazed and browned surface with a touch of charred, smoky flavor. (That makes them a great appetizer or other menu item for a big outdoor party for which you've already got the grill hot to cook other menu items.) And, minus the smoke, you can get a very similar effect by finishing the ribs under the broiler if it's too cold or otherwise inconvenient for you to go outside.

Look for baby back pork ribs in well-stocked supermarkets. Two entire racks, or sides, yield enough to serve six people as an appetizer, or two hungry rib-lovers as a main dish. I especially like the way the rich meat tastes with the flavors of Japanese rice wine (sake), available in good wine and spirits shops or Japanese markets, and toasted sesame oil from the Asian food aisle of well-stocked supermarkets. Pleasing spice comes from fresh ginger and pure chili powder (or you can grind red pepper flakes in a spice mill). The sweet, mellow honey included in the marinade helps glaze the ribs so beautifully during the final cooking stage, adding to the impression that you've gently grilled them for hours.

Spicy Honey-Glazed Baby-Back Pork Ribs Recipe

Serves 6 as an appetizer, 2 to 3 as a main course

1 cup sake (Japanese rice wine)

1/3 cup Asian-style toasted sesame oil

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon ground pure chili powder

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic

2 sides baby back pork ribs, about 3 pounds total weight

4 scallions, cut diagonally into thin slices

In a mixing bowl, combine the sake, sesame oil, honey, chili powder, ginger, and garlic. Stir until the honey has dissolved completely.

Put the ribs in a nonreactive container just large enough to hold them one rack on top of the other; or use a large, heavy-duty resealable food storage bag. Pour the sake marinade mixture over the ribs in the container or into the bag with the ribs. Cover the container with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, or seal the bag and place it inside a container to catch any leaks in case it is accidentally punctured. Leave to marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Transfer the ribs side by side in a single layer to a baking pan with a rim. Pour about half of the marinade over the ribs, discarding the rest of the liquid.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake the ribs until the meat is fork-tender, about 2 hours, turning the ribs every 30 minutes or so.

About 30 minutes before the ribs are done, preheat the broiler or an outdoor grill. Set the broiler or grill rack about 4 inches from the heat.

When the ribs are done, carefully transfer them to the broiler or grill rack. Brush evenly with some of the baking juices on the side facing the heat and broil or grill until nicely glazed, 3 to 4 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn. Baste the other side and broil or grill until it is glazed, 3 to 4 minutes longer.

With a sharp knife, cut the ribs between the bones into individual pieces. Arrange them on a large serving platter, garnish with scallions, and serve immediately.

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Recipes: "Spicy Honey-Glazed Baby-Back Pork Ribs "

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