Sweet-and-Sour Balsamic-Glazed Spareribs from Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook of Animal


[Photograph: Johnny Miller]



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Leave it to carnivores Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook, the fearless chefs behind the meat-centric LA restaurant Animal to give us a platter of blackened, sticky ribs, as documented in Adam Roberts' new book, Secrets of the Best Chefs.

The recipe involves a two-step cooking method. The ribs are first slow-roasted with thyme sprigs to suffuse the meat with an earthy herbaceousness. They are then generously slicked with an amalgam of a sauce; balsamic vinegar, honey, ketchup, beer, and mustard make up the bulk of it, but the long reduction and additions of molasses, red onion, Tabasco, and Worcestershire really make the sauce sing.

Why I picked this recipe: Melt-in-your-mouth ribs plus a sticky sweet sauce sounded like the perfect dish to enliven a cool, wet December day.

What worked: I'll call this sauce black magic from now on; it's a sweet sticky mess of a glaze, but it makes for some pretty spectacular ribs.

What didn't: I found the smaller ribs a little too fall-off-the-bone (if such a thing exists). If you like your ribs with just a tiny bit of chew, watch them carefully when approaching the three hour mark.

Suggested tweaks: The recipe makes a plethora of sauce (at least twice as much as needed); cut the glaze recipe in half if you're cooking less than four racks of ribs or have no use for leftovers. That said, the sauce has been pretty spectacular on turkey sandwiches in my house.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Secrets of the Best Chefs to give away this week.