I’m a fan of ribs, low-country mustard, high-country tomato, I just love slow cooked meat infused with hot, vinegary flavour. Ribs are wonderful for a July 4th picnic, and are a destination for my husband and his family every summer at Sweatman’s Barbecue in South Carolina. There’s something about the spiciness of ribs that intensifies the summertime; like somehow, the utter embrace of heat on top of heat makes the southern summer more sultry than stifling. But in the cold winter months, I crave a different kind of heat; something deeply warming rather than sweat-inducing. These ribs are my answer to this urge. Note: I’m generally a big proponent of what a marinade can do for meat, but I don’t always have the time. Then again, ribs aren’t exactly a fast-food, but to allow for spontaneity, you can drop the ribs in the marinade for an hour or two before you are ready to cook it, just give it a roast in the marinade alone for the first half-hour of cooking.
For the marinade: 3-4 lbs pork spare ribs 1 cup apple cider or juice (not apple juice that’s more sugar than apple, but the real stuff) 1/2 cup dark molasses 1 tbs chilli powder 3-4 cloves garlic, crushed 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 2 tsp salt 2 tsp pepper dash of Tabasco, or a couple of slivered hot peppers, if they’re handy
For the braising sauce: 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 1/4 cup soy sauce 4 tbs of your favourite Worcestershire sauce 4 tbs dark molasses 1 tbs ground ginger 2 tbs ground cinnamon 2 tbs ground dry English mustard 1 tbs chilli powder 1 lemon, plus juice 1 tsp coriander seeds 1 tbs bourbon or whisky (I use Southern Comfort or Maker’s Mark)
Make small incisions on both sides of the ribs and put the bits of crushed garlic inside them. Mix all the other ingredients for the marinade together and rub into the meat. Let sit overnight, or for a couple of hours (see note). Bring meat to room temperature and drop it with all the marinade dregs into your roasting tin. Then mix together all the ingredients for braising sauce, and brush onto both sides of the meat. Roast for about 2 1/2 hours at 350 degrees. If you have more time, turn the temperature down to 250 and give it another hour or so. The longer the meat cooks, the more tender it will be. You could cook it for 6 or 8 hours at around 200 degrees, but despite my inner slow-foodie, practicality rears it’s head. About every 20 to 30 minutes brush meat with the braising sauce. After the first hour of cooking, turn the meat and roast the other side, remembering to faithfully brush this side as well.
Allow to sit for a few minutes before cutting and serving. Serves 4, generously.