Campari and Orange Sticky Ribs

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 120 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

To celebrate summer, Angie Rito loves to make ribs with a sticky Campari and orange glaze that’s reminiscent of some of her favorite crisp aperitivo-style beverages that she has enjoyed al fresco during summers in Italy. If you prefer, you can simply cook the ribs in a 300°F (150°C) oven for about 2 hours rather than putting them on the grill.

Ingredients:

For the ribs:

  • 2 racks baby back ribs, 3 to 4 lb. (1.5 to 2 kg) total
  • 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 finely grated garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


For the Campari-orange glaze:

  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil or other neutral oil
  • 1 garlic head, cloves finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) orange juice, strained of pulp
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) Campari
  • 1 cup (8 oz./250 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (12 oz./375 g) honey
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice


For serving:

  • 1 orange, cut into half-moons

Directions:

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill (about 300°F/150°C).

Rinse the ribs with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Using a clean, dry kitchen towel, remove the membrane on the underside of the racks by pulling gently; it should come off in one piece.

In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, garlic, ground ginger, orange zest, 3 Tbs. salt and 2 tsp. pepper. Rub the ribs all over with the spice mixture and wrap each rack in a double thickness of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place the foil-wrapped ribs on the grill, meaty side up, cover the grill and cook for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the vegetable oil. Add the garlic, fresh ginger and 2 Tbs. salt and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the garlic is fragrant and just turning pale gold, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the orange juice, vinegar, Campari, sugar and honey and stir well to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until the sauce is reduced by about three-fourths, 35 to 45 minutes. Large bubbles should appear, and the sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Stir in the lemon juice. You should have 1 1/2 to 2 cups (12 to 16 fl. oz./375 to 500 ml) of thick, sticky sauce. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Remove the ribs from the grill and check for doneness—a cake tester or the tip of a sharp knife should slide easily into the meat. If not, rewrap the ribs and continue to cook until tender, 10 to 20 minutes more.

Let the ribs rest, still wrapped, until cool enough to handle. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board and cut between the bones into individual ribs. In batches if necessary, transfer the ribs to a large cast-iron pan, pour some of the glaze over them and heat over medium-low heat, tossing occasionally, until the ribs are well coated and the glaze is heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer the ribs to a platter, garnish with the orange slices and serve immediately. Leftover ribs can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Serves 4 to 6.

Reprinted from ©Italian American by Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli with Jamie Feldmar, Clarkson Potter, 2021