Tomatillo-Chipotle-Glazed Country Ribs

The perfect balance on Rick Bayless' plate is these hot and tangy ribs, a green salad, and a spoonful of Mexican beans. Bayless loves meaty country ribs, which are not really ribs but chops from the loin; you can use spareribs or baby back ribs if you prefer. A housemade roasted tomatillo-chipotle salsa is a key ingredient in the rib marinade.

Active Time:
45 mins
Marinate Time:
6 hrs
Total Time:
9 hrs 15 mins
4 to 6 servings


Salsa de Chile Chipotle y Tomate Verde (Roasted Tomatillo-Chipotle Salsa)

  • 4 to 6 dried chipotle chiles, stems discarded, or 4 to 5 chipotles in adobo

  • 6 large unpeeled garlic cloves

  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed

  • Kosher salt

  • Sugar (optional)


  • 6 dried guajillo or Anaheim chiles, stemmed and seeded, divided

  • 2 cups Roasted Tomatillo-Chipotle Salsa

  • 3 pounds pork country ribs

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • Romaine lettuce leaves, for serving

  • Sliced radishes and fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnish


Make the Salsa

  1. If using dried chiles, heat a dry griddle or heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add half the chiles and toast, pressing down on them with a metal spatula, until they start to crackle. Turn and toast the other side. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with the remaining chiles. Cover the chiles with hot water and let soften for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the chiles. If using canned chiles, simply wipe off the adobo.

  2. Heat a dry griddle or heavy skillet over moderate heat. Toast the garlic, turning occasionally, until softened and blackened in spots, about 15 minutes. Let cool, then peel and roughly chop.

  3. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Spread the tomatillos on a rimmed baking sheet and broil for about 8 minutes, turning once or until blackened in spots and softened. Let cool on the baking sheet.

  4. Scrape the tomatillos and any accumulated juices into a food processor or blender and add the chiles and roasted garlic. Puree until thickened and smooth. For a chunkier salsa, pulse the tomatillos and roasted garlic until coarsely pureed; finely chop the chiles and add them to the tomatillo mixture. Transfer the salsa to a bowl and stir in 6 to 8 tablespoons of water, so the salsa has a spoonable consistency. Season with salt to taste, plus a little sugar, if you want to soften the tangy edge. Set aside 2 cups and reserve the rest for another use.

Make the Ribs

  1. Heat a dry griddle or heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add 2 of the chiles, opening them flat on the hot surface. Toast, pressing down, until they start to crackle. Turn and toast the other side, then transfer to a blender. Toast the remaining chiles and add them to the blender along with the Roasted Tomatillo-Chipotle Salsa. Blend until smooth, scraping the sides. Pass the puree through a medium strainer into a bowl.

  2. In a large bowl, smear the ribs with half of the chile mixture, then cover and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. In another bowl, mix the remaining chile mixture with the honey; cover and refrigerate.

  3. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spread the ribs and marinade in a single layer in a baking dish. Drizzle 1/4 cup of water around them, cover with foil, and roast for 1 1/2 hours. uncover and bake for about 15 minutes longer, or until tender. Discard the pan juices.

  4. Raise the oven temperature to 350°F. Brush the ribs generously with the chile-honey sauce. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the ribs are glazed and a little crusty.

  5. Line a serving platter with the romaine and pile the ribs on top. Garnish with the radishes and cilantro and dig in; pass around any remaining chile-honey sauce.

Chipotles, both dried and adobo-packed, are available in most supermarkets, any Latin American market and by mail order from Mo Hotta-Mo Betta.

Make Ahead

The chile mixture can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. The salsa can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Suggested Pairing

Go for an Australian red with lots of up-front flavor. Consider the Geoff Merrill Owen's Estate Shiraz.

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