I’ve been making ribs the exact same way for many years, but when I read this recipe, I predicted they would be spectacular.  Indeed, my expectations were spot on.  If you are also very partial to a particular tried-and-true recipe for barbecued ribs, please try this version:  they are sticky, sweet, spicy, juicy, tender, you and your guests will leave only a pile of very clean rib bones on the plate!

(adapted from The Parsley Thief, original recipe from Gourmet, 2009)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons + 1/4 cup  dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons + 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar  
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt + 1/2 Tablespoon salt (divided)
4 racks baby back pork ribs 
1 + 1/2 cups water (divided)
1 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)

 Mix the rosemary, 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar plus the cayenne pepper in a small bowl.  Mince the garlic, add 1 teaspoon of salt to it and mash with the side of a large knife to form a paste.  Add it to the marinade with  1/2 tablespoon of kosher salt and  1/2 teaspoon pepper & mix all the ingredients together.  Rub evenly over the ribs and place in a baking dish. Marinate, chilled, for 8-24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Arrange the ribs in a large roasting pan and pour 1/2 cup water inside, under the ribs.  Cover tightly with foil, and  bake the ribs until the meat is very tender, about 2 and a half hours.  Remove from the oven and transfer the ribs to a platter.

Add 1 cup of water to the pan, and using a wooden spoon, scrape up all the browned bits.  Strain the liquid into a measuring cup, or gravy separator to remove the excess fat.   Transfer to a skillet and add  1/2 cup balsamic vinegar and  1/4 cup brown sugar.  Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer gently until reduced to about 1 cup, 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat the grill.  Brush some glaze over both sides of the ribs and grill, turning occasionally, until the ribs are hot and with nice grill marks all over, 6 to 8 minutes.   Brush the ribs with some more glaze and serve.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  This is a perfect recipe for the heat wave we’re going through (111 F last week in Manhattan, 106 F this week in Norman), because the initial baking happens at a reasonably low temperature. Plus, you can do that step very early in the morning, even a couple of days ahead of your party.  Remove the ribs from the fridge an hour or so before  dinner, turn the grill on, and assemble a few side dishes. In less than 10 minutes you will be ready to enjoy THE most amazing ribs ever!   The balsamic glaze is a nice change from the usual barbecue sauce. I can see it complementing a thick piece of grilled salmon quite well.

Need the perfect dessert for the 4th?  Try my beloved’s husband patriotic pie!

ONE YEAR AGO: Baby Back Ribs on the 4th of July

TWO YEARS AGO: Blueberry Muffins

THREE YEARS AGO: A Pie for your 4th of July


Barbecued ribs are a classic to celebrate this holiday at the height of the Summer.  In Brazil, barbecue means grilling large pieces of meat that were seasoned with coarse salt and pepper…  and nothing else.  No marinades, no rubs, no extra flavors.   Because I was raised with that concept, I sometimes twisted my nose at American barbecue,  particularly those in which the meat is suffocated by seasonings.

Then one day I found myself in an Oklahoma rib joint, where I tried barbecued pork ribs for the first time, all sticky, messy, gooey and covered with a screaming-red barbecue sauce.   I shook my head in disbelief – why mask the flavor of the meat with all that stuff? – but the first bite clarified the issue forever: barbecue sauce is awesome, funky, and sexy!  It turned those ribs into a life-changing experience! Seriously, from that day forward I was hooked, and soon became a barbecue sauce snob. It has to be just right, without liquid smoke and without excessive sweetness.   A little hickory flavor is acceptable, even desirable, as long as it’s subtle.  For the most part the bottled, grocery store varieties fail my personal test.  Instead I make my own sauce and exclusively use it on pork ribs.  It’s a match like Romeo and Juliet.

(adapted from Easy Basics for Good Cooking, 1987)

2 slabs of pork ribs (baby back or spareribs)
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced (no need to peel)
salt and pepper
juice of the lemon

for the barbecue sauce
1 cup tomato ketchup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup red vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp paprika (smoked, if available)
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp chili powder (hot)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Remove the membrane from the underside of the ribs (use a paper towel to grab it and it should peel off easily).  Place the ribs on a rimmed baking dish, cover it with the lemon and onion slices, season with salt and pepper, and squeeze the lemon juice all over.   Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 2 hours at 300F.

Meanwhile make the barbecue sauce by mixing all ingredients in a saucepan and bringing to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every once in a while.  If not using the sauce right away, refrigerate.

When the ribs are baked, remove the aluminum foil, discard the lemon and onion slices, and any liquid accumulated in the bottom of the baking pan. Brush a good amount of barbecue sauce all over the ribs and either refrigerate for a day or two, or proceed with the final cooking right away.

To finish the ribs in the oven, place them in a 425 F lightly covered with aluminum foil, for 45 minutes. They will look like this at the end of the baking time. Uncover, brush a little more barbecue sauce on top of the ribs, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until nicely browned on top.  You can also finish them in a medium grill until cooked to your liking.  Serve the ribs with additional barbecue sauce on the side.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: People may split into two camps when it comes to  barbecued ribs: those who want their meat falling off the bone, and those who prefer to work a little hard and nibble the meat from the bone. I’m part of the first group. Life is hard enough, and I want my ribs (rather, the pig’s) tender. 😉 If you’re on my team, then these ribs are almost all that you need for your 4th of July dinner. Close the deal with this dessert, and you are in for a memorable meal!



ONE YEAR AGO: A Golden Sandwich Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Ossobuco Milanese

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Coming back home to our kitchen was wonderful, of course, but coming back to my 6 shelves of cookbooks was almost as good!   Whenever I got tired of unpacking and organizing stuff, I would take a “cookbook-break” – not really opening any of them to avoid getting too distracted, but just looking at the titles and trying to remember my favorite recipes inside.  That led me to the shocking realization that quite a few books remain “uncooked from.”   One of my goals – which I intend to take without pressure – is to bring them to life in our kitchen. The first one was The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, a colorful, fun book written by  Jaden Hair.  I’ve had it for a couple of years, inside I found a small card with quite a few page numbers market “to try soon.”  No one can say I lack good intentions.  😉

(adapted from The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook)

1 + 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 Tsp finely minced garlic
2 Tbs minced ginger
2 + 1/2 Tbs soy sauce
2 + 1/2 Tbs brown sugar
3 Tbs finely minced green onions
3 tsp sesame seeds
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 hamburger buns

for the pickled veggies
1 cup matchstick cut carrots
1 cup matchstick cut cucumber
1/2 tsp sesame seeds
4 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar

Mix the ground beef with the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, green onion, sesame seeds, salt and pepper.   Try to mix it gently, but incorporating the ingredients well.   Divide the mixture in 4 equal portions and shape them as patties, making a small indentation in the center, as you see in this photo.   Let the meat rest while you prepare the quick veggie pickle by mixing  all the ingredients in a bowl. Wait 5-10 minutes and the pickle will be ready.

Cook the hamburger on a hot grill or on a frying pan with a little oil, for 5 to 6 minutes per side.  Serve with the carrot-cucumber pickle and other toppings of your choice.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  My main modification in the recipe was to reduce a little the amount of garlic – in case you didn’t notice, we tend to use garlic with a lot more restraint than most cooks – and also the amount of ginger.  In her recipe, she used 3 tablespoons of ginger and we both thought even 2 Tbs was a little much, the ginger taste is quite pronounced.   If you are more of a purist when it comes to tasting the meat first, consider reducing it further.  The hamburger turns out moist, succulent, the brown sugar/soy imparts a beautiful color.

I had to refrain from eating the pickled carrot/cucumber by the spoonful.  Loved it!  It goes perfectly with the burger.  If you find good quality kimchi, consider that as a topping too.

Summer is hamburger season by definition, and the 4th of July is right at the corner, so this could be a nice change of pace for the usual burger, celebrating the melting pot of cultures this country is all about!

ONE YEAR AGO: A twist on pesto

TWO YEARS AGO:  When life gives you chard…

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