Slow-Roasted Spare Ribs with Espresso Jam Glaze

Ribs: they’re such a weekend, laid-back, backyard barbecue sort of thing, aren’t they? I mean, they roast all day long, then you coat them in a sticky glaze, fire them up, and wash them down with warm cornbread, cold beer, and more than a few clean napkins. Still, it’s hard to think of a better reason for ribs-on-a-Tuesday than 70 degrees in March, no? You might just have to do it. And if you suddenly (cough, cough) are feeling just a wee bit feverish (sniff, sniff) and feel like maybe you should call in sick to work: well, your secret is safe with me.

This recipe sprang to being on the backs of generous friends. Our friend Jordana gave us a Penzey’s spice pack over the Christmas holidays, and I decided to take the oh-so-easy route of popping one of the little jars open and emptying it liberally onto the ribs for a dry spice rub. While they were roasting, I was rooting about in the pantry looking for something interesting to use as a glaze, and I spied the jar of espresso jam that our friend Nadine had brought us from Hawaii after a trip last Fall. While it’s not something I would spread on toast (the texture is very firm and a bit gritty), a few tablespoons worked perfectly to add some sweetness and a touch of coffee flavor to a pan-sauce reduction.

This recipe is more of an outline, a basic concept, as I’m guessing you don’t all have friends who gift you with Penzey’s spice rubs and jars of espresso jam (I did do a search for the jam online, but Maui Grown doesn’t seem to carry it in their store, and I didn’t find it anywhere else). And I have to tell you: these ribs were gorgeous. Fall-off-the-bone tender, spicy but not overly so, nicely crispy on the outside and silky smooth on the inside, with just a hint of sweetness balanced by lightly bitter coffee in the glaze. Brilliant. But the recipe is really quite adaptable: use your favorite spice rub, slow-roast the ribs in the oven or in a Crock-Pot; finish them under the broiler or on the grill; glaze them with sweet jam, smoky barbecue sauce, or not at all. (If you do finish under the broiler, keep an eagle eye on those ribs: you can see that I let them go just a minute too long and they got a bit too blackened; still tasty, though!). Mostly, make sure you make extra: you’ll want to sit back and enjoy them with friends!

Roasting method adapted from Teddi’s Grandpop’s Ribs recipe that came with my Galena St Rib Rub from Penzey’s

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Slow-Roasted Spare Ribs with Espresso Jam Glaze

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 and 1/2 lbs pork spare ribs (I get mine from Flying Pigs Farm)
  •  1/4 cup Galena St Rib Rub, or your favorite pork dry spice rub
  • 1/4 cup espresso jam (or try 1 tbsp finely ground espresso powder + enough sugar or honey to thicken the glaze)

METHODS

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees F. Rinse pork well and pat dry.  Cut into serving-size pieces: about 4 ribs per piece. Liberally coat both sides of each piece in rib rub, rubbing into the flesh. Stack rib pieces on top of one another in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish; cover tightly with tinfoil and roast at 220 degrees for 4 hours.
  2. Remove the tinfoil (reserve), place all of the rib pieces meat-side up (they should fit in a single layer now, or overlap slightly), and roast for another 1 – 2 hours, until the meat is falling-apart tender and you can pull out a rib bone with ease. Remove from the oven, cover once again with tinfoil, and allow to rest for 20 minutes or longer.
  3. Preheat your oven’s broiler. Remove tinfoil from the spare ribs and lay it flat on a rimmed baking sheet (broiler-safe). Lay the ribs, meat side up, on the tinfoil in a single layer. Set aside. Alternatively, you could light up a charcoal or gas grill for this step. If so, brush the glaze sparingly on both sides of ribs and cook on the grill about 2-3 minutes per side.
  4. Pour the accumulated pork juices into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then stir in espresso jam. Boil, stirring frequently, until thickened and syrupy, 3 – 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Pour glaze over ribs, then place under broiler, watching carefully until the pork is crisped and just starting to blacken at the edges, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, with any remaining glaze on the side.

Serves 6.

OPTIONS

  1. The same basic technique could be used for baby back ribs or beef short ribs.
  2. I imagine the roasting portion could be done easily in a Crock-Pot (on low for about 8 hours, I would guess), cooking away while you are at work, and ready to simply be fired under the broiler, or on the grill, when you get home.
  3. I kind of womder why the Maui Grown folks made espresso jam, rather than espresso jelly. I’m intrigued by the possibilities of fixing the textural issues by making a jelly of a strong, cold-brewed espresso. Or, try adding a very strong espresso shot to a basic simple syrup for the espresso glaze.

STORE

Refrigerated for up to 5 days.

SEASON

Year round.

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