Sunday Supper »

Cooking projects for people who'd like nothing more than to spend a sunday afternoon surrounded by the wonderful aromas of the kitchen.

Sunday Supper: Oven-Baked Espresso, Cocoa, and Chili-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs

Editor's note: Each Saturday afternoon we bring you a Sunday Supper recipe. Why on Saturday? So you have time to shop and prepare for tomorrow.

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Slowly cooked, oven-baked ribs are cloaked in a smoky rub that includes Spanish paprika, espresso, chili and cocoa. [Photograph: Jennifer Olvera]

I've never understood why people don't grill year-round; I love to. But this year, Chicago has been struck with a particularly unpleasant winter. I literally can't make it out to my snow-mounded Weber right now. Fortunately, these ribs offer the next best thing.

Smothered in a smoky-sweet coffee, cocoa, and chili-based rub, they cook low and slow for several hours—long enough to fill your home with a rich, spiced aroma, bolstered by the beer that's added in partway through. Finally, they're rubbed a second time over with seasonings and brown sugar. The resulting ribs have a deep burnished color and yieldingly tender, full-flavor meat.

Whatever you do, don't try to rush the process. This three-part approach, while time-consuming, is virtually effortless and well-worth the time. If you do have access to the grill (or find yourself hankering for these ribs during in the summer), I'd still recommend doing the first two stages in-house. Then, finish them on the grill. If you want to use a smoker for the whole process, that would work nicely, too.

Serve the ribs with something that cuts through their smoky flavor—perhaps a bracing coleslaw swathed in lemon vinaigrette. That and, naturally, some baked beans.

Note: Don't want to use beer? A mixture of apple and grape juices works nicely in its place.

About the author: Jennifer Olvera is a veteran food and travel writer and author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Chicago." Follow her on Twitter @olverajennifer.

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