I’ll say it again: I swear we eat more than meat.
The ribs I made the other night got me thinking about other seasonal, autumn-y things I could do with beef spare ribs.
These are a really interesting first course for a harvest-season dinner. Because they’re sweet, I think they’d be overpowering as the main meal. I love them, but can never eat more than one or two at a time.
The meat is fall-off-the-bone tender and develops a caramelized, glossy crust from cooking in a relatively hot oven. The garlic, salt, and pepper balance out the maple syrup, so the meat is warm, spicy, and sweet—but not cloying. The sesame seeds provide texture, contrast, and a little nuttiness.
As they roast, your kitchen will fill with an amazing maple-nut aroma.
Ribs as a first-course
I like to serve ribs as an appetizer when we have folks over to dinner because it’s unexpected. The look on their faces when presented with a single, large, meaty rib never fails to make me have a little giggle fit.
This is a kind of Martha-ish thing to do, but I always make sure to set a bowl of warm, wet hand towels on the table when I bring the ribs out. You want folks to enjoy eating like a savage—then give them a way to instantly clean up so they’re not uncomfortable.
This is more technique, less recipe
That’s why are no measurements below. If you’re serving them as a first course, count on one rib per person, with maybe one or two extra for leftovers.
For technique, there’s a lot of imprecise sprinkling and slathering. The goal is to get the ribs coated and get them in the oven, so you can get back to whatever else you’re cooking.
You’ll get your hands sticky, but that’s a small price to pay for an impressive-looking appetizer that takes maybe 5 minutes to throw together. Your oven does all the hard work for you.
Candied Maple Sesame Ribs
beef spare ribs
grade-A maple syrup
freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil. If you’re feeding a crowd, you might need two or more pans.
Lay the ribs out on your prepared pan.
Sprinkle them generously on all sides with kosher salt to taste. The salt serves to balance out the sweetness from the maple syrup.
Now sprinkle the ribs on all sides with garlic powder.
Drizzle each rib with a fair amount of maple syrup.
You want them to look about like this:
Use your hands to spread the syrup over each rib, getting all sides. Scoop up the maple syrup that’s on the pan and slather it back on. Like I said, this is fairly imprecise. The goal is to get each rib fairly coated with maple syrup.
Crack some black pepper over the ribs.
Sprinkle the ribs liberally with sesame seeds. I tend to like a lot of sesame seeds, but definitely adjust the coverage as you see fit.
Roast and serve
Put them in a 350 degree oven and roast for about an hour.
They’re done when the meat has developed a good brown crust and has shrunk slightly from the ends of the bones. The meat should come away easily when you pull at it with a fork. They should look about like this:
Sprinkle with a little kosher salt before plating. Serves one per person as a first course. Enjoy!