Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Maple chipotle ribs

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say this winter has seemed inordinately long.  Between the record amounts of snow in my little state and my son's increasing difficulties sleeping through the night, I've had little motivation to cook.  I'm not a stand-at-the-stove kind of cook of necessity (though I do enjoy the times I get to focus on nothing but cooking); I need quick and easy meals that practically prepare themselves these days.

When the snow started to melt and it seemed like the sun might be peeking out from the persistent cloud cover last week, I made my husband shovel out our gas grill.  Maybe it's all the time we spent living in California which fueled our love of grilling; we grill several times a week even through the winter (unless the grill is buried under three feet of snow as it was this past month).  As a result, I've experimented with a lot of ingredients in an effort to come up with interesting, simple, flavorful marinades to use when grilling meats.  I mean, there's only so much appeal to eating the same thing prepared the same way week in and week out, right?  (Of course, my husband would be perfectly content to do this, but I think that's a post left for my other blog...or not.)

I don't often plan my meals in advance; I like to see what's in season and what's on sale at my local market.  Last week, there was a killer sale on bone-in pork ribs; we don't often have ribs because of the fat content, but once in a while we indulge.  This was one of those times.  And I knew just what I wanted to do with them...and it didn't involve any tomato-based products or things with high fructose corn syrup.

Here's what you need to make about half a dozen good sized ribs:


  • Approx. 1 cup maple syrup (use the real deal, you'll thank me!),
  • Approx. 2 tablespoons ground chipotle pepper (the sugar from the syrup and the heat of the grill will temper the spice a lot)
  • Approx. 1/3 to 1/2 cup brown sugar (I prefer dark because of the molasses adds to the caramelization, but use whatever you have on hand)
  • meat of your choice (this works great with pork and chicken)

Oh, and a large food storage bag or container with a lid.  If you have a medium mixing bowl with a lid that will work, too.

Now, for the hard part...dump it all in the bag or bowl and mix until thoroughly coated.  I tend to add the liquid and dry ingredients first and mix them up before adding the meat so the seasoning is more evenly distributed.  There is no right or wrong way to do this, folks!

Let the meat marinate for at least an hour before grilling.  Grill on medium heat for approximately 5 minutes per side.  NOTE:  you may need to adjust this depending on the size of your meat and the type of grill you are using.

Serve hot off the grill with a simple salad or vegetable, baked potatoes or rice...easy peasy and feels like summer is right around the corner!

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A few notes:

Real maple syrup will not carmelize in the heat (thus, the brown sugar as a binding.caramelizing agent).
If you don't have real maple syrup on hand, you can use regular maple flavored syrup.  Just cut back on the brown sugar —unless you want your ribs to be super gooey!

Also, if you don't have a grill, don't despair!  You can bake these in the oven. Bake at 350-375F for approximately 25 minutes.  That's a guess on my part as I always use an instant-read meat thermometer; the appropriate temperature for cooked pork is 170F.

Use as small a pan as you can so the marinade is covering the meat instead of the bottom of the pan.  I recommend lining the pan with foil to make cleanup easier. 


  1. Looks yummy... BUT, I thought ribs took forever to cook? What's with the 5 minutes per side on the grill? I'm intrigued.

  2. The only reason ribs take so long to cook is if you slow cook them over low heat. These you want to do over a higher flame to caramelize the marinade. Plus, the individual ribs don't have *that* much meat on them. lol

    But I'll double check with my husband, the grill master!

    And, as a tease, I have another post where I'll give you the secret to preparing ANY ribs so they will be fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy every matter HOW you cook them!

  3. Sounds amazing. Can you do these in the slow cooker?

  4. @Christa Absolutely! I would recommend heating the marinade first to thicken it a bit before putting it over the meat, Then set slow cooker for...I don't know...maybe 3-4 hours on low? I'll have to try it and see. If you try it, please let me know how it works out for you. I imagine it would work very well with a large batch. I only made enough for my husband and me to share.

  5. @kristen The answer from my husband is, yes, it only took 5 minutes per side. They only take longer if you are doing them in a smoker or over an open flame (because the heat burns off instead of being trapped in a closed grill).