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Dishing Out the Holiday Food

First, I have a hard time calling Memorial Day a holiday, having had a parent die in a war, but while it’s not all fireworks and getting drunk around here, I do make food like I would make for any seasonal celebration.

Since there are just the two of us here, I can’t justify making a feast like what a big gathering might have, so I’m making three good meals and spreading them out over the three days of the long weekend. Yesterday, we had potato salad—a big favorite around here—with a grilled venison backstrap. No dessert, because, well, we think of potato salad as dessert, itself!

Tomorrow, it will just be your typical grilled burgers with skewers of grilled summer squash, your choice of yesterday’s potato salad or today’s slaw, and a little leftover dessert from today.

Today, I’m grilling some baby back ribs, brined in an orange-Asian marinade and basted with a spicy orange-Asian glaze. Cole slaw for a side and for dessert, a blueberry clafoutis. The ribs are not going to be like the last ones, cooked low and slow with a charcoal snake, but cooked over an indirect higher heat, around 350°-400° for two hours, periodically basted with the glaze. They are more of a wet rib, but one that doesn’t require a thick drippy sauce. The glaze cooks down to a thick, sticky coating that complements the marinated pork.

Baby Back Ribs with Orange-Asian Glaze

  • Servings: 1 rack of ribs, about 3 lbs
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Overnight brine/marinade:
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 -2 tablespoons grated garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil

Combine all ingredients and pour over ribs in large glass dish or in sealable plastic bags. I cut my rack in half and put each half in a plastic bag, dividing the marinade between them. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight, removing from refrigerator about 1/2 hour before cooking.

Orange-Asian Grilling Glaze:
  • 2 cups orange juice, reduced over medium-high heat to 1 cup
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Huy Fong Vietnamese Chili Garlic sauce

After orange juice is reduced by half, remove to a measuring cup, then stir in other ingredients. Use to baste the ribs every 15 minutes on the grill.

Cooking the ribs:

1 three lb rack of pork back ribs, marinated overnight

Orange-Asian glaze

  1. Set up your grill for indirect cooking, so that you have enough coals for at least two hours. I started with 50 coals in the chimney starter, then dropped about ten more coals on the ash pile to make sure it would keep going.
  2. Place the marinated ribs opposite the heated side of the grill and close the cover. It should come up to about 400° and drop to around 350° by the end of the second hour. Keep in mind that the temperature drops every time you open the lid to baste the ribs.
  3. Set one timer for 1 1/2 hours and another timer for 15 minutes. Baste the ribs with the glaze every 15 minutes, resetting that timer. If after 1 1/2 hours, you think the ribs could go longer, try another half hour. I felt that the full two hours was good and that more time would not add anything significant to the recipe.

The ribs were moist and tender inside, sticky and spicy outside, without any added sugar, just the natural sugars in the orange juice.

Blueberry Clafoutis: See the recipe for Pear Clafoutis and substitute one pint of fresh blueberries for the pears.

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