February 12, 2008
Well, apparently you all are not hot on the guessing games. Yesterday, I mentioned our Saturday night’s pretend-it’s-summer meal, dangling the potato salad as bait for you to guess our meaty main dish. And this enticement resulted in … silence. I got exactly zero guesses. Well, my friend Brynn lodged a couple guesses via e-mail, but I’m not sure that counts.
And since it’s clear that not-a-one of you is dying in suspense, it’s just no fun to leave you in the dark anymore. Did you all get together to hatch this reverse psychology plan? If so, well played.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos and the recipe.)
Anywho, the star of the make-believe-it’s-not-below-zero meal was these ribs. I’ve never made ribs before, but Kevin loves them. To be honest, I’m not much for the whole eating meat off the bone thing. It’s a little too Flintstones for me. But Kevin, on the other hand, seems particularly enchanted with this type of dining. Especially when it involves wings from Buff Joe’s, one of his other great loves from college (yes, I’m another one and for a glimpse into yet another one: see this).
Since the hot wings ship (read: the Super Bowl and, more generally, football season) has sailed, I opted for the next best caveman-esque meat in Kevin’s book. Ribs. I know that ribs are typically a multi-hour process: usually a combination of hours of slow cooking at a low heat and a finish-off on high heat, to crisp them up. And that’s one of the reasons I wanted to make them. If you haven’t noticed, my favorite Saturday activity of late is undertaking menus that take hours upon hours to prepare. But when I saw this recipe on Epicurious, Gourmet magazine’s promise of “juicy ribs ready in an hour!” piqued my interest. And the flavors in the sauce—hoisin, honey, garlic, ginger and soy—were right up our alley. Tack on a “four fork” rating and I was sold.
I’m happy to report that they were indeed juicy and tender and succulent and flavorful—and, yes, ready in under an hour. Kevin proclaimed them the best ribs he’d ever tasted and proceeded to pick each rib on his plate (and the majority of the ones on mine) entirely clean. Along with yesterday’s potato salad (which was quite good, even though the rice wine vinegar didn’t impart as much of an Asian flavor as I’d hoped) and a heap of Swiss chard sauteed in sesame oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds and chili flakes, it was a perfect summer-in-February kind of meal. Oh, and don’t forget the most important side dish of all: a bowl of warm, wet towels.
Chinese Barbecued Ribs
3 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons honey
4 pounds baby back ribs (2 to 4 racks)
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Line a 17- by 12- by 1-inch baking pan with foil. Purée ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and oil in a blender, then transfer to a bowl and whisk in hoisin sauce and honey. Reserve 1/2 cup sauce and coat ribs with remainder.
Arrange ribs, meaty sides down, in pan and bake, turning and basting once with some of reserved sauce halfway through baking, until cooked through, about 40 minutes.
Turn on broiler. Brush ribs, meaty sides up, with remaining sauce. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat until edges are lightly charred, 4 to 8 minutes.