Grilled Simplicity + RECIPE: Orange Ginger Spare Ribs with Asian Slaw

The past week has been all about recovery and getting my life back together post Soil Sisters weekend. It’s still the farming season so we’re still working hard, but also trying to find some moments for self care.


A coffee enjoyed in the morning without obligations for just a few minutes. Quick meetings for collaborative events being held on the farm this fall over cocktails that turn into rambling spontaneous evenings with women I love. Researching and brainstorming intensely for my five, yes five, assignments for Madison Magazine and then opting for a bike ride when I hit a road block. Photos of wildflowers, impromptu Banzo deliveries to my office, and a new rule of no computer after 10 p.m. (which then means no work after 10 p.m.) which first led to anxiety but now induces pure joy and a kind of focus on my husband that I haven’t had for at least a month. And subsequently more and better nights of sleep. It feels good to take care of me despite the crazy. It feels like just maybe we will make it through this marathon of a harvest season.


Our food, too, has been simple. No pressure, lots of vegetables, that’s what this time of year is all about. There have been beans and pesto, whole meals of fresh cantaloupe (the first successful cantaloupe crop we’ve ever had at our farm), a melon gazpacho that was heavenly, and a pasta salad which may have opened a can of worms because somehow I never before realized how addictive pasta salad was and now want to eat it all the time.


And that’s not even to mention all the grilling. We got a new grill about the time we bought our house last year so this is our first full summer with a grill that doesn’t require charcoal (aka more advanced prep and at least enough planning to know we have charcoal on hand). It has been heavenly. Dinner comes together in minutes on the grill. Plus you don’t have to heat up your house. You barely have to clean up any mess. Most of the mess is left outside, right where it should be. Summer grilling has been filling the last few months with so much joy.


This particular grilled recipe requires a little more time than my usual 10-minute grilled recipe (because ribs are never quick), but it is without a doubt the best thing I’ve grilled all summer.

I personally think it has everything to do with the bright citrus flavors found in Quince & Apple’s Orange Marmalade with Lemons alongside the fragrant ginger, sweet maple syrup and bright apple cider vinegar that I braised the pork ribs in before grilling. Quince & Apple is one of my absolute favorite local products. I always have a jar or two of their jam in my fridge for adding quickly to a sandwich or throwing on an impromptu Friday night cheese board. (Lately I’ve also been getting into their cocktail syrups too, but that’s a whole other story). This marmalade in particular is sweet, herbal and bright in a way that I’m just falling in love with. It screams summer grilling to me.

And though this recipe takes a little time, it’s still incredibly easy. You essentially dump everything in a Dutch oven or large stock pot, bring it to a gentle boil, immediately reduce it to a very gentle simmer and leave it alone for a couple hours. Once you remove the ribs, you’ll reduce the yummy braising mixture further into a BBQ sauce and quickly toss together a simple Asian slaw. Then turn on the grill, get things nice and charred and voila: dinner.


I love to make these ribs on a weekend just so I don’t feel rushed. And the great thing about that is, during the two hours of braising, you can absolutely work out in the garden or just lounge in the hammock with a good book. I always clean my house during these precious two hours because I’m a farmer and my house is a never-ending disaster in summer. If I’m feeling real ambitious, I might pickle something.

Essentially, this is the perfect relaxed meal and I recommend you get on it quickly because the grilling days of summer seem to be racing right by whether we like it or not.

Stay joyful. Stay sun-kissed. Stay balanced with moments of beauty among the crazy.

Your Leek

P.S. This post was generously sponsored by Quince & Apple.


Adapted from Bon Appetit 

Serves 6-8
Takes 3 hours, most of it inactive

3 tablespoons minced ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
3 jalapenos, sliced
1 6-ounce jar Quince & Apple Orange Marmalade with Lemon
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
2 tablespoons + 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, divided
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
3-1/2 cups water
2 racks spare ribs (3-4 pounds)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 cucumber, seedless, sliced thinly, optional

  1. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, combine ginger, garlic, jalapenos, marmalde, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, salt and water. Place the ribs in the liquid as best you can. They should be almost covered but not completely. Bring lliquid to a gentle boil and then immediately reduce to a very gentle simmer (the burner should be at 1 or 2). Cover partially and simmer for 2 hours, flipping ribs every so often so they cook evenly.
  2. Remove ribs to a large plate, platter or baking sheet.
  3. Add remaining maple syrup and apple cider vinegar along with ketchup, brown sugar, tamari, and rice wine vinegar. Continue simmering gently, reducing liquid for 30-40 minutes until it resembles a BBQ sauce or ketchup and is thick enough to brush onto the ribs without dripping off. Remove the jalapenos before using.  (While reducing the mixture, prepare the slaw ⇓).
  4. Get your grill ready. The hotter, the better. Brush your ribs generously with sauce and place on the grill (sauce side down) until well-charred, about 5 minutes. The more char with ribs the better. While one side is cooking, coat the other side with sauce. Flip and cook another 5 minutes until well-charred.
  5. Serve hot with slaw, scallion greens and cucumbers.

1/2 head savoy cabbage. shaved
1/2 head red cabbage, shaved
1 bunch scallions, white and pale green parts only (save the dark green portion for later)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 lime, juiced

  1. In a large bowl, combine cabbage and scallions.
  2. In a small bowl, combine mayo, vinegar, tamari, sesame oil and lime juice. Whisk until smooth. Pour over cabbage and scallions. Toss until cabbage is evenly coated. Let sit at room temperature while you grill the ribs. Try to resist eating it all before the full meal is prepared.

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