I don’t know about you, but I can get into a ho-hum kind of food funk, the uninspired we’re having tacos again kind of rut where dinner is just another task marking the conclusion of another day. Nothing savored, no flashes of cooking brilliance, no mmm lingering in the air. Like having a favorite color, mmm is my favorite sound, easy to communicate the delight of it even with your mouth full. But ho-hum and mmm are rarely in the same room and I’m not certain which one banishes the other—it’s a chicken and egg type of mystery.
Then a recipe catches my eye, an Instagram photo pops up on Facebook, or a sale on seasonal vegetables tickles my fancy and I can’t resist extending a dinner invitation. Food always tastes better with friends and new recipes are best reviewed by an audience. Of course, if you write a food blog, your audience may have to get used to starting without you while you get ‘just one more shot’. Orange Balsamic Glazed Ribs were a hit, receiving enthusiastic thumbs-up all around with mmm in stereo.
The inspiration for these ribs came while browsing some of my favorite blogs—Kay from Pure Complex posted Ian Knauer’s Sticky Balsamic Ribs and I knew I wouldn’t get the gotta-make-ribs Jones out of my system until I made some of my own.
Inspiration does that, it ignites, initiates, infuses new energy.
Although Ian’s recipe got my creative juices flowing, I ended up with a completely different rib recipe by the time it was done. Borrowing the idea of flavored aged balsamic, I used the sweetness of orange to balance the tangy complexity of a younger variety of balsamic, which is more common and less expensive. Citrus is also in season making it easier to find quality oranges, fragrant and heavy with juice.
The marinade and glaze both have a similar profile incorporating oranges, balsamic, garlic, and a hint of spice, which gives the pork ribs a consistent depth of flavor. Adding a touch of crushed red pepper brings the orange and balsamic alive—the amount in the recipe provides a subtle spice as to not overpower, though you can kick it up as much as you like.
The seductively dark glaze is reduced to concentrate flavor, yielding plenty of sauce to glaze the ribs and then pass at the table if you’re so inclined. Every tender bite is infused with flavor and if you don’t mind ultra casual dining among friends, you’ll be licking your fingers too. If you should happen to have any sauce left over, it would be ideal for glazing roasted chicken or wings as well.
Ho-hum no more!
Speaking of inspiration, it spills over into other forms of creativity too—this is the first time I used my new lights (the twins) to help me with lighting an otherwise dark table at dinnertime. I just love my little helpers!