The coffee in this marinade accentuates the bitter and smoky flavors of molasses, which is particularly delicious with pork ribs. This recipe is a favorite for marinating ribs of any kind: bee prime ribs or short ribs, as well as gone-in rib pork chops. My absolute favorite is pork spareribs because of their high ration of fat to meat. If that weren't enough, this marinade also makes a wonderful dipping sauce because it's not too salty.
2. Follow instructions for either oven-roasting or grill-roasting.
To Oven-Roast Ribs: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Remove the ribs from the marinade and let the excess drip off. Save the remaining marinade for basting the ribs. Put the ribs fat-side up, on a rack over a baking pan. Put in the oven and roast until the meat begins to pull away from the bones, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, basting every 20 minutes with the reserved marinade.
If you want to brown and caramelize the surface of the ribs after they're baked, put them under a broiler about 3 to 4 inches from the heat until they begin to bubble and brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve as is or with a dipping sauce.
To Grill-Roast Ribs: Build a fire on one side of a covered grill or if using a gas grill only light one burner. Put the meat opposite the fire so there is no fire directly underneath the meat. If you're grill-roasting more than 2 slabs, put them in a vertical rack specially designed for cooking several rib racks at one time. Cover the grill and try to maintain a temperature of 300° to 350°F. When the meat begins to pull away from the bone, the ribs are done. This may take anywhere from 1-1/4 to 2 hours, depending on the temperature maintained in the grill. If you like a smoky flavor, add some wood chips or chunks to the coals from time to time. If you want more of a grilled flavor or caramelized exterior, grill both sides of each slab briefly over a hot fire (you may need to add more coals) for 2 to 3 minutes per side after they're cooked. Serve the ribs as is or with a dipping sauce.
3. Put the reserved 1 cup marinade in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve the reduced marinade as a dipping sauce for the ribs.
Harold McGee, the author of Keys to Good Cooking, is an expert on the chemistry behind food and cooking. McGee recently made his first trip to China, where he learned more about rice wine.