It’s cold, unforgiving, and can bite to the bone sending shivers throughout the body. Sometimes you just want to wrap yourself up and hide from it. Somehow seeking warmth and comfort from its ugliness. Oh yeah, and the weather can be bad too.
Too much lately have we been reminded of the ugliness of life. We all approach life differently, savoring the sweetness and swallowing the bitterness in our own ways. For Diane and I, we struggle with the seeming pointlessness of writing about food on the heels of tragedy, yet this is where we find refuge, in the things we love.
Cooking. Going out to a movie. Going for a walk and holding the hand of someone you love. Watching or playing sports. Curling up to a book. These seemingly trivial acts are often places of comfort and help remind us of the pleasures in life.
Gather friends into our homes and allow ourselves to laugh and cheer. Stoking the fires of the soul to bring back its warmth. These things help bring back our smiles and carry on with life. That is what comfort and all of its trivialities does. That is why we share.
Here is one of our favorite comfort foods, ribs. To be specific, Bourbon-Maple glazed St. Louis cut spare ribs. Sweet from the maple, a tinge of smokiness from the bourbon, and cooked to nearly fall off the meat packed-bone tender. These are cooked using the same method we used for the Sriracha-Hoisin ribs, wrapping the ribs in foil with apple juice, baking them in the oven, and then partially through the cooking time adding a glaze and finishing until tender. And with the bourbon open, go ahead and pour yourself a little nip.
The St. Louis cut spare rib is a great meaty cut, but this recipe will work equally well with baby back ribs. If you want to offer a bit of variance to your guests, make the Sriracha-Hoisin rib glaze as well and serve up a sweeter rib (this one) and a spicier rib (the sriracha-hoisin) to please the crowd.
- two 3 pound (1360g) racks St. Louis cut Spare Ribs
- 2 Tablespoons (30g) Kosher or Sea Salt
- fresh cracked Black Pepper to taste
- 2 cups (480ml) Apple Juice
- 1/2 cup (120ml) Apple Juice
- 1/2 cup (120ml) Maple Syrup
- 1/4 cup (60ml) Bourbon
- 1/4 cup (60ml) Tomato Paste
- 1 T (15ml) Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 t (5ml) Fish Sauce (optional but very tasty)
- 2 T (28g) Brown Sugar
- 1 t (5g) Kosher or Sea Salt
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Rinse ribs and pat dry. Cut each rack in half and season ribs with salt and pepper.
Make 4 “boats” out of doubled up sheets of foil large enough to enclose each ribs section (*refer to sriracha-hoisin ribs photos for visual guide). Place ribs, meaty side up, in boats and pour 1/2 cup of apple juice in each of the boats.
Seal foil boats closed around the ribs, trapping the juice in with the ribs and being careful not to break the foil. Place on sheet pans.
Bake for one hour. Remove from oven, carefully open the foil, and brush with bourbon-maple glaze *recipe follows.
Return to oven, leaving the foil open but with the foil sides standing up enough to keep the juices around the ribs. Bake for another 45 minutes. Glaze ribs again, then return to oven for another 45 minutes.
Heat oven to broil and place oven rack 2 or 3 levels down from the top. Brush ribs with glaze again and broil for 2 minutes or until slightly singed.
Slice ribs into sections and serve.
Combine glaze ingredients in a saucepan (apple juice, maple syrup, bourbon, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, fish sauce-optional, brown sugar, and salt). Over high heat bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-high and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside until ready to glaze ribs.