Mexicans have a love affair with the Pig. Pork is the most beloved protein in the Mexican diet. There, I said it. And we can thank Christopher Columbus for that, since he’s the one that brought domesticated pigs to the Americas on his second voyage. They say that he brought only 8 pigs, and from those, they multiplied and eventually they were taken from Hispaniola to Mexico, central and south America.
Why is pork so popular? And why do we love it so? I Perhaps it’s because the meat is rich-tasting and it does not dry out easily when cooked. Mexican cooks have always been thrifty, and the whole hog is used, from nose to tail. Modern hogs are leaner, so the meat is good for you. Any way you look at it, there is no reason not to like pork.
By now you know I adore pork. There is something indescribably good about slow cooked pork. It becomes pull-apart tender and delicious with the treatment of low heat, and in Mexico there are many famous recipes that cook pork this way.
These baby back ribs are baked on a low oven for a couple of hours, then brushed with spicy piloncillo glaze. They can also be done on the barbecue. Trust me, they are irresistible and oh so easy to make!
Piloncillo is a raw sugar commonly used in Mexico. If not available, you can use dark brown sugar instead. Simply make a syrup with chopped piloncillo and water, then add canned chipotle chiles and blend. The glaze lasts a few months in your fridge. Mix the glaze - as much or as little as you want - with enough barbecue sauce to baste your ribs and there you have it. You can use this sauce for any other grilled meats in your repertoire, provided you want a bit of spice.
COSTILLITAS DE CERDO CON SALSA PICANTE DE PILONCILLO
Baked Baby Back Ribs with Spicy Piloncillo Glaze
½ cup crushed piloncillo (Mexican raw sugar), or packed brown sugar
½ cup water
½ cup chipotle chiles in adobo, pureed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5kg baby back ribs (about two racks)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ancho chile powder
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
4 Tbsp piloncillo glaze
Combine piloncillo, water, chipotle puree and garlic in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered, over low heat until the syrup has thickened, about 20 minutes. Let cool. Place leftover glaze in a jar and store in fridge for 2 weeks.
Makes ¾ cup glaze.
Preheat oven to 300°F. Mix barbecue sauce with 4 Tbsp glaze.
Place ribs on baking sheets (I like to use my stoneware pans), meaty side up. Combine ancho chile powder, salt, and black pepper. Rub minced garlic over ribs, then sprinkle with spice mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and make sure everything gets coated well with garlic and spices.
Bake uncovered in oven, for 2 hrs. At this time, you can start brushing some of the glaze mixture on the ribs. Bake for another 15 minutes and brush some more glaze on. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until glaze has thickened on meat. Cut into small portions and serve warm.
This recipe was first published at www.thelatinkitchen.com