I’m not really a fan of ribs, typically. Sure, I like a nice short rib here and there but a slab of ribs isn’t really my bag. I have a thing about eating meat directly off the bone.

Enter Ian Knauer’s Sticky Balsamic Ribs.

I live in an area that takes its ribs seriously. And frequently those ribs are done KC-style.  Most often, they’re treated to a dry rub, smoked low and slow, then sauced with something thick and a bit sweet. When I came across the recipe for Sticky Balsamic Ribs in Food52’s Genius Recipes, I had a bit of a Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot moment. 425 degrees F for 1-3/4 hours? What? LOW AND SLOW! You do ribs low and slow!

Oh, Andrea of little faith.

These ribs were fabulous. They were fall-off-the-bone tender. And the glaze… oh yes, the glaze. A little sweet. A little spicy. A little acidic. A few minutes under the broiler after the initial bake crisped up and caramelized the glazed surfaces and edges into sticky & sweet meat candy. Had it not been in the middle of the night, I would have finished them off on the grill but the broiler did a fine job too. I saved the leftover glaze for a pork loin roast.

I served them with some creamy cheese grits and a massaged kale salad. And I had a second helping.

Sticky Balsamic Ribs with Asiago Grits & Kale

Sticky Balsamic Ribs with Asiago Grits & Kale

Recipe: Sticky Balsamic Ribs
Recipe type: Main
  • 8 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 pounds baby back pork ribs
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  1. Mash up with garlic with 1 teaspoon salt. Mix into the mash the rosemary, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons vinegar, cayenne, remaining tablespoon of salt and pepper. Rub the mixture all over the ribs and marinate them in the fridge for 8 to 24 hours. (I cut each slab into thirds and put them all into a covered bowl to fix into my already full fridge.)
  2. Move your oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Divide up your ribs into 2 roasting pans. (I used 9x13s.) Pour ½ cup water into each pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  4. Roast the ribs for about 1-3/4 hours or until very tender, switching the pans' positions at the halfway mark. Remove the pans from the oven and place the ribs on a platter or foil-covered surface.
  5. While they're still hot, add 1 cup water to each roasting pan and use a whisk or spoon to scrape up the caramelized bits. Skim off the fat and then pour the liquid into a skillet or sauce pan. Add 1 cup vinegar and ½ cup brown sugar. Bring up to a boil and stir occasionally while the glaze reduces down to a thick syrup. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Prepare your grill for direct-heat cooking cover medium hot charcoal or medium heat on a gas grill. Alternatively, you can broil the ribs about 4 inches from the heating element.
  7. Brush both sides of the ribs with the glaze. Grill them for about 6 minutes or until they're hot and you see grill marks. Turn them occasionally. OR... pop them under the broiler for about 6 minutes.
  8. Brush more glaze on the ribs and serve! You can also serve the remaining glaze on the side.
Adapted (not really at all) from Food52's Genius Recipes. Recipe also available here.