I served these ribs at a birthday party I hosted last weekend and they brought down the house! When planning the menu, I wanted to serve something grilled so folks would have an excuse to congregate around the fire pit. (I like to grill campfire-style with a grate set over a mix of kindling and charcoal briquettes.) It had to be something quick, easy, and foolproof because my guests would be doing the grilling while I pulled together the other dishes.
This rib recipe, which I found in an old issue of Gourmet magazine, was the perfect solution because the ribs can be marinated and roasted until they are fall-off-the-bone tender the day before. At serving time they only need a few minutes on the grill to caramelize the balsamic-brown sugar glaze and add a hint of smokiness.
8 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon cayenne
8 pounds baby back pork ribs
1 cup water
2 cups hot water
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
• Equipment: 2 large roasting pans
Marinate and roast ribs:
Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt. Stir together with rosemary, brown sugar, vinegar, cayenne, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Rub evenly all over ribs and transfer to roasting pans. Marinate, chilled, 8 to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 425°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.
Pour 1/2 cup water into each roasting pan and tightly cover pans with foil. Roast ribs, switching position of pans halfway through, until meat is very tender, about 1 3/4 hours. Remove pans from oven and transfer ribs to a platter.
Make glaze and grill ribs:
Add 1 cup hot water to each roasting pan and scrape up brown bits. Skim off and discard fat, then transfer liquid to a 10-inch skillet. Add vinegar and brown sugar and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil until reduced to about 1 cup, about 15 minutes.
Ribs can be roasted and glaze can be made 1 day ahead and chilled separately (covered once cool). Bring to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before glazing and grilling.
Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas.) Brush some of glaze onto both sides of racks of ribs. Grill, turning occasionally, until ribs are hot and grill marks appear, about 6 minutes.
Brush ribs with more glaze and serve remaining glaze on the side.
Ribs can be broiled 3 to 4 inches from heat (instead of grilled) about 8 minutes.