- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 24, 2008

You may think cooking ribs is suitable only during the summer, when you have the grill going, but if your oven can hold a large roasting pan, you can enjoy meaty, sweet ribs in the middle of December.

The enticing aroma of ribs roasting in the oven will whet Two’s Company appetites just as it does when you’re cooking outdoors. Although you’ll forgo the smoky flavor of the grill, you’ll get the advantage of predictable cooking times.

You’ll find several pork-rib options in your supermarket. Each has a distinctive flavor.

Back ribs, also called baby back ribs (because of their diminutive size) come in a “rack” weighing about 16 to 24 ounces, enough to serve two generously. Although not lean, back ribs have less fat than other cuts. The meat is tender and sweet but can dry out if overcooked.

Country-style ribs, cut from the sirloin or rib end of the pork loin, are the meatiest of the ribs. This is a hearty cut, but it takes longer to cook. Although spare ribs have larger bones, they have less meat per bone than back ribs. The robust flavor compensates.

For the following rib recipe, I call for a small rack of back ribs. The sweet, tender meat goes especially well with a topping of cranberries sweetened with maple syrup.

As with outdoor grilling, add the fruit mixture toward the end of the cooking time so it doesn’t burn.

Ribs with cranberry and maple relish

Makes 2 servings.

1 tablespoon chipotle chili in adobo sauce, minced (see note)

1 cup cranberries

14.5-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 teaspoon salt

1- to 1 1/4-pound rack pork loin back ribs

Place chili in adobo sauce, cranberries, undrained tomatoes, maple syrup, ketchup and salt in medium pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until cranberries burst and mixture is thick and hot.

Spray a roasting rack with nonstick cooking spray or coat with vegetable oil. Place over a large roasting pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place ribs on rack, cutting rib rack in half, if necessary, to fit pan.

Roast ribs in preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven. Spoon on half the sauce. Return to oven for 20 minutes or until sauce is A rich brown color.

Cut into individual ribs to serve. Pass remaining sauce on the side.

Each serving has: 535 calories; 25 grams total fat; 25 grams protein; 52 grams carbohydrates; 174 milligrams cholesterol; 730 milligrams sodium; and 2.5 grams dietary fiber.

Note: Canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce is available in the Mexican section of supermarkets. Use both the chili and a little of the sauce in the recipe.

Bev Bennett is the author of “30-Minute Meals for Dummies” (John Wiley & Sons).

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