Vermont Maple Glazed Pig Candy

"I got first place on my ribs Sunday using your Vermont Maple Glazed Pig Candy recipe!" Steve Triplet, Galatia, IL

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You'll pretty much follow the concepts in my recipe for Last Meal Ribs, but you'll use the Texas Crutch, which is wrapping the meat infoil late in the cook, and then take the juices from the foil, add some maple syrup, and make the sauce. This method makes a glaze, not really a sauce. It makes extremely tender, juicy, meat with a beautiful mirror like sheen. More than one cook has written me to tell me that they make the best ribs he ever tasted. The secret is real mmmmmmaple syrup.

Warning: Don't compete with these ribs!

Several readers have written to tell me that they've won their local rib-off with these ribs but do not use this recipe for a Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) or Memphis Barbecue Network (MBN) competition. The judges there usually only give awards to classic red sauces like my Kansas City Classic. But serve them to friends and neighbors and they will worship you!

Ingredients

1 slab ribs

about 4 tablespoons of Meathead's Memphis Dust

1 cup apple juice

2 pinches salt

2 teaspoons hot sauce

1/4 cup real maple syrup

About the maple syrup. Make sure to use real maple syrup, not the fake stuff. Interestingly, the less expensive, darker, Grade B maple syrup is slightly better for this recipe and most cooking.

Method

1) Set up your cooker for 2 zone cooking and get the indirect side to 225°F.

2) Skin 'n' trim your ribs.

3) Wet the surface with water and then sprinkle on 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat. If you can do this the night before, please do. Otherwise anytime prior to cooking will do. The sprinkle with Meathead's Memphis Dust, enough to coat the surface, and massage it in. This is a bit more rub than I usually recommend, but much of it comes off during the Texas Crutch, below.

4) Roast St. Louis Cut ribs or spareribs for 3 hours on your smoker or the indirect side of your grill, and use wood for smoke for the first hour. If you are using baby back ribs, smoke roast for 1.5 hours, with smoke for the first hour.

5) Then wrap them tightly in two layeres of foil with the apple juice as described in the Texas Crutch technique article and cook in foil for 30 minutes.

6) Take the meat out of the foil and put it back on at 225°F, no smoke, for another hour.

7) Pour the apple juice from the foil, now enriched with the flavors of the rub, into a sauce pan. Add the remaining half cup of apple juice. Boil it until about 1/3 cup remains. Add the maple syrup and heat over medium high and stay right there and watch it carefully. As soon as it foams up, immediately turn down the heat until it stops frothing. You don't want it foaming for long or it could turn to hard candy. That would be bad.

8) Add the salt and hot sauce and stir. It may bubble furiously again. Paint the meaty side of the ribs with one or two coats of the sauce. It should make a shiny glaze. Don't use too much. Heat the ribs meat down over the hot side of the grill until the glaze burbles a bit, about 5 minutes, depending on how hot things are. Keep the lid open and watch them like a hungry teenager so they don't burn. Serve and accept the praise gracefully.

pig candy

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