I must protest Miss Janie Jones’s accusation that I, as one of her fellow dorks, am a lady of taste and refinement.  I mean, of course I have taste; look who I picked for blog buddies.  But refinement?  Do I LOOK like I have time for refinement?  No, if Janie is the queen of cheap, then I am the queen of easy.  (Stop snickering, you perverts.  Not that kind of easy.)  It’s not that I don’t have time, exactly, but I surely don’t have time in which I am not sleep-deprived, constantly interrupted, or both.  Don’t plan to come to my house for cassoulet for a decade or so.

That brings me to the meal I’m currently blogging, which is as easy as can be, provided you can remember to start marinating a few hours ahead.  (I understand that some days, this is a tall order, but trust me when I say it’s worth it.)  The recipe is adapted – barely – from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Express; my review of that cookbook will appear on this blog in a couple of days.  She has a recipe for Maple Chicken and Ribs; since that recipe feeds multitudes and my family is not that large, I usually just make Maple Ribs.

1 large slab pork spareribs, separated into individual ribs (a cleaver is a huge help here)

1 cup apple juice

¼ cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick, halved

6 cloves garlic, smashed

Combine all ingredients from apple juice to garlic in a bowl and mix to combine.  Put ribs in a gallon zipper-seal baggie.  Add apple juice mixture.  Let sit in refrigerator (in a pan or on a plate in case of leakage) for a few hours or overnight, turning whenever you remember.


About an hour before you’re ready to eat, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Dump the whole mess into a large roasting pan.


Now put it in the oven for about an hour, or until the ribs are tender and brown, perhaps with a bit of char if you’re into that.


That’s it.  You are the proud owner of a whole lot of savory, melty, messy meat.  Who says the best thing on the internet is porn?

Now, since I’m new at this food blogging thing, I didn’t think to take a picture on a serving platter, where the ribs look more appetizing, or of one cut or bitten to show how tender these ribs are.  You’ll just have to take my word for it.  I thought any kind of rib required low, slow cooking (like braising or smoking) to be OM NOM NOM tender, but I was wrong – these have a unctuous, tender texture without hours of cooking.

The flavor of this recipe as written is spicy but (obviously) not hot, and sweet but not cloying.  (By the way, if you can’t find star anise, use a couple of teaspoons of 5-spice powder and skip the cinnamon.)  The marinade cooks into a glaze that is satisfyingly sticky but not full-on candy coating.  The marinade/glaze is also easily and infinitely adaptable.  My favorite addition is a tablespoon of powdered chipotle or several chipotles in adobo, finely minced.  You can monkey with the spices in any way that appeals to you; for instance, you could swap the sweet spices for smoky ones and substitute some of the apple juice for cider vinegar, and hey presto: what was vaguely Asian is now reminiscent of barbecue.  (I didn’t say it WAS barbecue – no hate mail from the devoted, please!)  However you flavor it, this is a dish of the finest kind: one that can satisfy your carnivorous self without pissing off your lazy one.