Reprinted with permission from "Modern Maple" by Teresa Marrone published by Minnesota Historical Society Press.
Maple's dominant flavor is sweet, but it also has both smoky and woodsy undertones that make it a great partner for pork and rich fish such as salmon. You might also be surprised to learn how well it works with dishes as varied as cabbage rolls, pizza, and pecan-crusted chicken.
I'm a huge fan of slow-smoked ribs, so when some friends served us ribs prepared with this oven-cooked method I was quietly skeptical. Two bites into the meal, I was begging them for the recipe. Its simplicity is amazing: the ribs are pull-off-the-bone tender but still have a wonderful, chewy char on the outside. Our friends used bottled barbecue sauce to finish the ribs on the grill; here, a preliminary marinade provides extra flavor and the ribs are finished with a sweet, tangy maple glaze for an irresistible dish. Serves 4.
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons paprika, preferably smoked Spanish
(sweet, not hot; Penzeys is a good source)
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons onion powder (not onion salt)
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 racks baby back ribs (1 ¾ -2 ¼ pounds per rack)
¾ cup maple syrup
¾ cup apple juice or water
¼ cup tomato paste
¼ cup minced or grated white onion
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce (such as Tuong Ot Toi)
In a small bowl, stir together all marinade ingredients. Cut each rack of ribs into 4 pieces; place in a large nonreactive baking dish. Pour the marinade over the ribs and rub into both sides, distributing it as evenly as you can. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or as long as 8 hours.
For the preliminary cooking, heat oven to 350 degrees. Add about an inch of water to a roaster or other large baking dish. Place a rack in the roaster, propping it up on balls of foil if necessary to raise it above the water. Stack the ribs on the rack; pour any liquid that has accumulated under the ribs into the roaster. Seal the roaster tightly and bake for 1½ hours. Remove roaster from oven and set the lid slightly ajar; let the ribs rest for 30 to 40 minutes. While the ribs are resting, prepare the glaze. Combine syrup, apple juice, tomato paste, onion, mustard, and chili-garlic sauce in a small nonreactive saucepan. Heat to boiling, adjust heat so mixture boils gently, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.
Once the ribs have rested and the glaze is ready, you can proceed directly to grilling or refrigerate the ribs, loosely covered, for up to 12 hours before grilling; also cool and refrigerate the glaze if you are going to wait more than an hour before grilling the ribs.
When you're ready to grill, prepare a charcoal or gas grill with a direct, medium-intensity fire. Place the ribs on the grate and cook until hot, turning frequently. Brush a generous layer of glaze on the top side of the ribs. Cook for about 2 minutes, then turn ribs over and brush again with glaze. Continue cooking the ribs, turning every few minutes and brushing with additional glaze, until the ribs are crusty and browned in spots, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with plenty of napkins.
Similar to a wilted lettuce salad, with some significant differences. The dressing is close to room temperature, and escarole is thicker than greens typically used for wilted salads, so it remains crisp. Its slight bitterness pairs well with the sweet dressing that gets a nice smoky flavor from bacon. Radishes add color and a peppery bite. Serves 4.
3 slices thick-cut bacon
extra-virgin olive oil, if needed
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
8 cups escarole, torn into large bite-size pieces before
measuring (about half of a large head)
3 radishes, thinly sliced
In medium skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Measure bacon drippings: if there is more than 2 tablespoons, discard the extra, but if there is less than 2 tablespoons, add extra-virgin olive oil to make up the difference.
Return the 2 tablespoons bacon drippings to skillet and place over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the syrup, vinegar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce; whisk to blend. Set aside to cool while you place the escarole in a large salad bowl. Scatter the radishes over the escarole.
Crumble the bacon over the top. Bring the salad to the table. Pour the dressing over the top, then toss well to coat and serve immediately.
The sweetness of maple is a perfect complement to the natural sweetness of roasted carrots in this delicious soup; ginger, scallions, and Szechuan pepper add delightful flavor notes. Serve as a first course or as a luncheon dish with a loaf of good, crusty bread and a green salad. Makes 4 first-course servings or 2 main-dish servings.
1 pound carrots, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons maple syrup
6 scallions, root ends trimmed
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
large pinch ground Szechuan pepper
Heat oven to 425 degrees for a glass dish or 450 degrees for a metal pan. Cut carrots into ½-inch lengths; if any pieces are ½ inch across or thicker, also cut them in half vertically. Combine with oil in 13x9-inch baking dish, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with salt. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, then add syrup, stirring well. Return to oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer or until beginning to brown, stirring once or twice.
While carrots are roasting, cut the dark green top portions off the scallions and set aside. Slice the white and pale green parts into thin rings; set aside separately from the green tops. Cut ginger into thin slices, then mince together with the garlic. Melt butter in 1-gallon soup pot over medium-low heat. Add sliced scallions (not the green tops) and minced ginger-garlic mixture. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth and Szechuan pepper. Increase heat to medium-high and heat to boiling,then adjust heat so mixture boils very gently and cook for 15 minutes. If the carrots aren't done roasting yet, reduce heat to low to keep the broth warm until carrots have browned.
Add browned carrots and pan juices to pot with scallion mixture. Cook at a gentle boil for 10 minutes or until carrots are very tender. Meanwhile, thinly slice enough of the scallion greens to equal ¼ cup and set aside (discard any remaining greens). Transfer about half of the soup to a blender. Remove the center knob on the blender lid to allow steam to escape, and cover the hole loosely with a towel. Blend until smooth. Return to pot; stir well. Taste and add a bit more salt or pepper if you like. Sprinkle soup with sliced scallion greens; serve immediately.