Muppet came back from her February school vacation a young woman possessed. She had spent the week with her Dad and his new family skiing at Stratton Mountain in Vermont. By all accounts they had a grand old time on the slopes, but to be honest I hardly heard about the skiing from our budding gourmand. All she could do was rave about the "Bear Claws" she ate at a joint called "Grizzlys Bar and Restaurant" at the base of the mountain.
Of course, my first thought ran to the pastry of the same name as I was sure she had noshed a few as a mid-morning snack on the trails. I was wrong. Instead, she was referring to a plate of ribs that she said were the best she's ever eaten, thick and meaty and slathered with a maple syrup BBQ sauce.
Did I mention she was possessed?
Like a dog on a bone, she was relentless in her pursuit of the "Bear Claw" recipe so that we could try to re-create this life-changing plate of meat and bones at home. Sadly, the internet search gods were not on her side and she came up empty handed. Never one to take defeat lying down, I did my own series of searches and did stumble across a pretty tasty sounding maple syrup BBQ sauce, and from her description of the ribs I guessed them to be the meaty St. Louis variety, not the scrawny (though wildly popular) Baby Back Ribs.
With this small amount of knowledge in-hand I set out to craft a reasonable facsimile to Grizzly's dish, and according to our young rib addict……I done good. Apparently, the St. Louis ribs I bought were still not as thick and meaty as the ones she had at the restaurant (they are undoubtedly able to source from some goliath pigs in VT.), but their juiciness and flavor were so close to her craving that she ate them down like…..yeah, you guessed it….a young woman possessed!
Cheers – Steve
St. Louis Ribs with Maple BBQ Sauce
by Steve Dunn, sauce by: Vermont Maple Sugar Maker's Association
- 2 Racks St. Louis Style Pork Ribs (Spare Ribs)
for the sauce:
- 1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/2 white onion, diced
- 1/2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Coleman's dry mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
for the dry rub:
- 1/4 cup sweet paprika (use 1/2 pimenton if you have some for a smokier flavor)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons cayenne
- 1 teaspoon Coleman's dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
for the dry rub:
Mix all ingredients in a bowl, set aside.
for the sauce:
- In a medium sauce pan heat the oil over medium heat, then add the onion, garlic, ginger, cayenne and black pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent, then add the vinegar, water, tomato paste, soy sauce, sesame oil, and maple syrup. Whisk well to fully incorporate the tomato paste. Add the thyme, mustard and 1/2 of the salt. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
- Purée the sauce with a stick blender (or run it through an upright blender), taste for seasoning and add the balance of the salt if desired. Use right away, or place in a large covered jar and refrigerate for up to two weeks.
to make the ribs:
- Trim the ribs of any thick slabs of fat, and remove the membrane from the underside of the ribs. The best way to do this is to start a bit of it with a sharp paring knife, then using a paper towel to help with your grip, gently peel the membrane from the rib bones. Check out this video for a look see.
- Generously coat both sides of the racks of ribs with the dry rub and rub it in well. You may not use all the rub, but you should use most of it. Place the ribs (meaty side up) on a foil covered, rimmed sheet pan and place in the fridge to marinate for 5-6 hours.
- Heat the oven to 225℉ and set a rack in the middle. Place the sheet pan with the ribs in the oven and cook for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, rotating the pan front-to-back a few times to ensure even cooking, until the ribs are done. To check for done-ness, pick a rack up from the center with a set of tongs. When fully cooked, the rack will droop like an upside down U, and the meat at the center will start to crack.
- Pull the ribs from the oven and set the oven to BROIL.
- Slather the ribs on both sides with sauce, then place back in the oven and broil until the ribs are bubbling and the sauce is set, about 4-5 minutes.
- Pull from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into individual ribs and serve, passing extra sauce at the table.