If you eat meat, you should like pork. If you like pork, and aren't afraid of getting your hands dirty, then you almost certainly love ribs. If you don't like any of those things...well, you have some issues to work out. Here is Jon and Vinny's recipe for Balsamic Barbecued Baby Backs, from their cookbook Two Dudes, One Pan: Maximum Flavor From a Minimalist Kitchen. Currently, this dish is also available on Animal's dinner menu, served with a fennel slaw.
Balsamic Barbecued Baby Backs
From: Chefs Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook from Animal.
Serves: 6 to 8.
A few words from Vinny: "I'm a fan of smoked ribs, but if you crave a rack and don't have hours and hours to smoke them, these are great. This recipe proves that you can cut corners and still get an end result that's fall-off-the-bone good."
From Jon: "Wrapping ribs in foil steams them so they stay moist and makes them really tender because the steam helps break down the tough tissues in the meat. We finish them off under the broiler with a swipe of our balsamic barbecue sauce. You can also make them ahead of time and finish them on a kettle grill to get a little smoky edge."
For the ribs:
2 racks of pork baby back ribs, divided in half
Canola or grapeseed oil
4 teaspoons kosher salt
4 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
4 garlic cloves, smashed
For the barbecue sauce:
1 cup ketchup
1 12-ounce bottle lager-style beer (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1 to 2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce (depending on how tangy you like your ribs)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Preheat your oven to 500°F.
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Place each half rack of ribs on a 2-foot-long sheet of foil, shiny side up. Rub each half rack with some oil and sprinkle with the salt, then divide the herbs and garlic among the packets. Wrap the foil around the ribs tightly and place them in a roasting pan. Roast the ribs for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 250°F and cook until the ribs are fork-tender, about 1 1/2 hours longer. Remove from the oven and carefully open the foil so the ribs cool enough to handle, 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the oven.
While the ribs roast, make the barbecue sauce. Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a medium saucepan, add 1/4 cup water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, keeping the sauce at a bare simmer, and cook until it is thick, at least for 1 hour (we sometimes cook it for up to 3 hours, partially covered, for an intensely deep flavor).
Turn your oven to broil. Liberally brush the meaty side of the ribs with half of the sauce and broil until caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes. (If you don't have a built-in broiling element in your oven, then crank the oven heat to 500°F and roast the ribs until the sauce is hot and bubbling.) Transfer to a platter and serve with the rest of the barbecue sauce on the side.
Animal Restaurant, 435 N Fairfax Ave, L.A., (323) 782-9225.