[Photograph: Kerry Saretsky]
Maple syrup is made, not surprisingly, from the sap of the maple tree. I love it as a sweetener because not only is it sweet, but also smoky, which lends itself well to savory applications as well as the tried and true sweet ones.
For this recipe, I marinate tender, lean baby back ribs in maple syrup and apple cider vinegar for a sweet-tart complexity. I then bake the ribs in a low oven for three hours, until the meat is tender and flaking off the bone, and the syrup has burnt and caramelized on the ribs, intensifying both its sweetness and smokiness. These ribs are simple and subtle, but also satisfying and excellent.
- 3 pounds baby back ribs, separated
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Kosher salt and black pepper
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 300°F. In large bowl, combine ribs with maple syrup, cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Toss to coat. Transfer to gallon-sized zipper-lock back and refrigerate for one hour.
Transfer ribs to foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake, turning every 45 minutes until ribs are dry and tender and marinade has caramelized, about three hours total. Remove from oven, allow to rest 5 minutes, and serve.