Barbecued ribs, French style
This recipe uses a marinade of honey, balsamic vinegar and rosemary to lend a French flavor to ribs. It can be made at any time of year because the meat is oven roasted.
When shopping for the pork, try to find baby back ribs — called ‘baby’ because they are shorter than spare ribs, not because of the age of the animal. If baby ribs are not available, use spare ribs but increase the roasting time of each stage of the recipe from 20 to 30 minutes, for a total of 90 minutes instead of one hour.
For best results, use a liquid form of honey, for example clover, orange blossom or acacia honey. The flavor of lavender honey would marry remarkably well with the pork, but it is unfortunately too compact to be used with this recipe.
The quantities below serve two generously. For a larger crowd, double or triple the recipe.
2 pounds (1 kilo) baby back ribs
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. rosemary leaves, fresh or dried
1 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 small cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup (10 dl) water
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (350 F, 180 C).
If the ribs have the back fat attached, score through it with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern.
Peel the garlic clove, cut it in half vertically and cut the halves into thin slices. With a sharp knife, cut slits into the meat and insert the garlic slices.
Combine the honey and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Stir to blend. Add the rosemary and salt, and grind in some black pepper. If you like your sauce spicy, crumble the cayenne pepper — using paper towels to protect your hands — and add it to the sauce.
Oil a roasting dish, preferably ceramic or glass. Place the pork in the dish skin side down. Spoon some sauce over the ribs and spread it around, using a pastry brush if you have one.
Place in the ribs in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes. Remove the pan, coat the ribs with more sauce, turn the rack over, coat the other side with sauce and return to the oven.
Bake for another 20 minutes and repeat, coating both sides and using up all the sauce. The ribs will now be skin side down. Add the water to your roasting dish — it will keep the sauce from burning. Return the ribs to the oven and roast for a final 20 minutes.
Serve piping hot with a salad and baked potatoes or seasonal vegetables, accompanied by a bottle of hearty red. Serves 2.