Those that follow this blog know I have long lamented about the inability I have to use an outdoor grill here. New York State laws don’t allow condos and apartments to own gas or charcoal grills, and the electric grill, while doing its job, didn’t really offer that much in the way of a good grilling experience. This has left me to my own devices when it comes to grilling, meaning I do what I can indoors with the oven and stovetop. While I will never get the great smell of outdoor grill cooking or the fantastic grill marks (though my grill pan does a good job, it just isn’t the same), I still like to make barbecue flavors when I can inside. For some reason not that long ago I had a craving for some barbecued chicken and ribs. Now, making barbecued chicken and ribs is nothing out of the ordinary – all you need are your chicken pieces, ribs and some barbecue sauce mainly – I wanted something that was going to give us some different flavor and a bit of that barbecue feel. I came across this recipe at New York Times Cooking from Nigella Lawson for oven roasted maple chicken and ribs that offered the unique flavor I was going for with that roasted, not-quite-barbecued method.
Oven Roasted Maple Chicken and Ribs
1 cup apple cider or juice
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
6 unpeeled garlic cloves
½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)
8 pork spareribs, separated
6 chicken thighs with skin and bone (or other chicken pieces)
In a small mixing bowl whisk together the apple cider, maple syrup, vegetable oil and soy sauce. Add the star anise, cinnamon stick, garlic cloves and the hot pepper flakes (if using) and stir the ingredients to combine them well.
In a large freezer bag or bowl, combine the pork ribs and chicken pieces. Pour in the apple cider mixture, and seal the bag or cover the bowl. Refrigerate the meat overnight or up to 2 days.
Remove the marinated mixture from the refrigerator, and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour the contents of the bag or bowl (including the marinating liquid) into a large enough roasting pan to avoid crowding the meat. Turn the chicken pieces, so they are skin side up.
Roast the meat until the chicken is opaque throughout and the ribs are tender, about 1 1/4 hours; 35 to 40 minutes into roasting turn the ribs over, but leave the chicken skin side up and turn the heat to 425 degrees to increase browning, if desired.
When the chicken and ribs are finished roasting, there will be quite a lot of fat in the sauce. Strain the sauce and use a fat separator to remove the excess. Place the meat in a large dish along with the strained sauce and serve hot.
While there is not much to the original recipe, I did make a couple of slight variations of my own. To the marinade, I did add 1/2 a teaspoon of liquid smoke so I could get a smokier flavor from the meat. It worked out quite nicely for both the chicken and the ribs. I did not add all the marinating liquid into the roasting pan when I put the meat in. Instead, I changed the cooking method a bit. I put half the marinade in the pan and covered the roasting pan for the first 60 minutes with aluminum foil to give the meat a chance to cook and keep some of the juices in, then removed the foil for the next thirty minutes and cooked the chicken and ribs this way. For the last twenty to thirty minutes, I basted the chicken and ribs with the remaining sauce so that the meat got a nice coating of the sauce and had more of a “barbecued” look to it. I then placed the meat under the broil for a minute or two for some final coloring. While I think working with the original recipe will turn things just fine, I believe that this method turned out moister meat and more tender ribs and chicken that were not dried out. I really liked the maple flavor of the ribs and the chicken, and you could easily make this for a crowd if you have a big enough roasting pan where the meat does not get crowded, so it steams. I served this with some grilling sides like green beans, cole slaw, and corn to round out the grilling experience (cornbread would go nicely here too).
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!