Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Balsamic vinegar-cocoa nib glazed oven ribs

This was some good stuff, my friends. I encourage you to make these ribs along with my preceding recipe for goat cheese/vidalia onion laced grits. Maybe for Easter dinner this coming weekend? I based these ribs somewhat on this recent recipe from the New York Times, but it departs in a couple key places, as you'll see. I used 2 pounds of ribs here; this serves 2 people happily. If you're having company, double the amounts called for in the rib sauce. For the ribs themselves, you should increase to at least 5 pounds for 4 people. For the grits, you can just straight double the amount called for in the recipe. Anyway!Get you some baby back ribs and lay them out on a long sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil...Salt and pepper them on both sides, then drizzle on 2 tablespoons olive oil.If you made the grits before, you should have some baby vidalia onion greens left over. Slice them in half, long ways, and lay out over the ribs, along with 4 cloves of garlic, slivered. If you don't have the green spring onion tops, you can use small bunches of chive instead.Now let's pack 'em up right. Fold the long end of the foil over the ribs...And crimp the edges down to form a packet. A packet of ribs! Put in a big pan and roast at 350 for 30 minutes, then turn the heat down to 250. They will cook for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours, so you've got some time on your hands now.Here's how to make the sauce: measure 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, put in a pot and bring it to a boil, allowing it to reduce slightly for a minute or so over high heat.Stir in 3 tablespoons dijon mustard and 1 cup white wine until smooth, then add in 1/4 cup ketchup and a couple dashes tabasco. Let it all come to a simmer. Now! You need some cocoa nibs. I bought these on impulse a while back at the DeKalb Farmers Market. They weren't expensive so I didn't worry that I had no idea what to do with them.They are the crunchy hulls of the cocoa bean. I nibbled on one raw--they're not bitter, as you might expect from unsweetened cocoa.I seriously can't believe the flavor though--it adds something deep and smokey to the sauce! I ended up putting them in granola this week too--the texture is awesome. I can see a lot of potential uses for them so get ready to see them again in the next month or so.I used about 1/4 cup for the sauce and smashed them with a rolling pin to break them down a bit.Add the cocoa nibs into the sauce along with 1/2 cup brown sugar. Here's where you can use up the rest of that baby vidalia onion.Dice the white bulb from 1 small baby vidalia. If you don't have no baby vidalia onions, just substitute with 2 big shallots, diced. Add it to the sauce and bring it all to boil, then turn down to simmer for 30 min, stirring occasionally.When the ribs are done they should be soft and pulling off the bone. Get them out of the oven and unwrap.Lay them out on a baking sheet and let them cool for just a couple minutes.After the 30 minutes of cooking, your sauce should be reduced and pretty thick. Baste the ribs on all sides with the sauce. You can broil them for a few minutes, or I like better to turn the oven up to 475, let them cook in there for 5 minutes, then re-baste them and cook for a few minutes more so the sauce really gets all into everything.They're so good. It's a deep flavored sauce and the meat is so tender. All you need now is a scoop of goat cheese grits...And the ribs on top. Total heaven. Enjoy!

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