Start the day before, to let the ribs sit in the marinade long enough to really take up the delicious flavours. The recipe makes extra sauce for dipping, but you’ll need to reduce it, so if possible, start the ribs in a pan that can go from oven to stove top.
2 lbs pork back ribs, cut in half or left whole
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup maple syrup
1 – 3 garlic cloves, minced; how garlicky is up to you
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
1 tsp white pepper
½ tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ cup orange juice
2 tbsp orange zest
1 tbsp sriracha, Asian chili garlic sauce, or another favourite hot sauce
1 green onion, trimmed, chopped, to garnish
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, to garnish
To make the marinade: into a large bowl add vegetable oil, maple syrup, garlic, ginger, white pepper, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, orange juice, zest, and hot sauce – whisk to combine.
Preparing the ribs may require a bit of hands-on knife skills – a little cutting and tugging – to remove the ‘silver skin’ or fascia tissue from the bony side of the rack. Unless this has been done by the butcher. This membrane holds the ribs together, so removing it means they’ll end up fall-from-the-bone tender. Although, it’s not essential; leaving the silver skin on means they’ll hold together well, but the sauce won’t penetrate as well on one side. It’s up to you!
Place ribs, fleshy side down, in a shallow dish and cover with marinade. Cover and set in fridge for at least six hours, a full day is best.
When ready to cook, cover ribs in aluminum foil or transfer to lidded roasting pan and roast at 275F for about 3 hours. Remember to turn the ribs over in the marinade at the one and a half hour mark.
Remove from oven and increase heat to 475F.
Remove lid or foil. When oven has preheated, pop back in to get sticky and golden – about 30 minutes. Start with the ribs bone side up, then flip over midway to finish the meaty side.
Transfer ribs to serving dish; set aside.
Transfer remaining marinade to burner and reduce over high heat, whisking constantly. When reduced to a thick molasses-like sauce, transfer to dipping dish.
To serve, drizzle or brush more sauce on ribs, sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion.
Bring sauce to the table for dipping.
I’d Tap That!
Sugar maples yield one of the highest sugar content and sap flows, and that’s why it’s everyone’s favourite for tapping, but several other maples, birches, the juglans nut family, alders, linden, elm, hickory, and sycamore trees are also coursing with sweet water in the early spring. Beginner tapping kits are available from online shops or in country hardware stores, and instructional videos are all over the internet. It’s fun and easy: drill hole, tap in spigot, hang bucket, wait. Remember, you can’t tap a tree trunk with less than an 8-inch (20-cm) diameter and some trees are potentially toxic, so always do your own research.
From Hudson, Quebec, now living in Port Hope, Ontario, Signe is a restaurant chef-turned-writer who tells award-winning stories and creates delicious recipes for LCBO’s Food & Drink, Manna Pro Hearty Homestead, The Harvest Commission, and Today’s Parent; she published her first book – Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs; Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden with 100 Recipes – in 2015.