Star chef Danny Bowien coats ribs with a soy-spiked caramel glaze, which makes them savory and sweet. His tiki-style garnishes: shredded coconut, maraschino cherries and, when he has them handy, cocktail umbrellas.
Slideshow: Tiki Cocktail Party
1 quart distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 chiles de árbol
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small pineapple, peeled, quartered, cored and sliced crosswise 1/4-inch
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
One 3-pound rack baby back ribs
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
1 mandarin orange
Maraschino cherries, for garnish (optional)
Toasted unsweetened shredded coconut, for garnish (optional)
How to Make It
Step 1 Make the Pineapple Pickles
In a large saucepan, combine the vinegar with 1 1/2 cups of water and the sugar, chiles and garlic. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Transfer the pickling liquid to a large heatproof bowl and let cool to lukewarm. Add the pineapple and let cool completely, then cover and chill overnight.
Step 2 Prepare the Ribs
Preheat the oven to 375°. Toast the macadamia nuts in a pie plate for 5 minutes, until golden. Let cool. Leave the oven on.
Step 3 Prepare the Ribs
Set the ribs on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet and rub them all over with the oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast for 2 hours, until golden brown and very tender. Let cool, then cut the rack into single ribs.
Step 4 Prepare the Ribs
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, cook the sugar with 1/4 cup of water over moderate heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Add the cinnamon stick, star anise, fennel seeds and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Cook, without stirring, until a frothy, deep-amber caramel forms, 7 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the soy sauce and fish sauce. Strain the caramel into a bowl; keep warm.
Step 5 Prepare the Ribs
Using a small, sharp knife, peel the orange, removing any bitter white pith. Working over a bowl, cut between the membranes to release the sections.
Step 6 Prepare the Ribs
In a large skillet, combine the ribs with 1 cup of the caramel. Cook over moderately high heat, tossing frequently, until the ribs are well glazed, 6 minutes; transfer to a platter. Garnish with some of the pineapple pickles and the mandarin sections, maraschino cherries, macadamia nuts and shredded coconut and serve with the remaining pineapple pickles.
The pineapple pickles can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Dishes with a lot of sweetness can be wine killers. But a bold California Zinfandel that has lots of sweet fruit, along with peppery notes, would be good here.
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