Spareribs with Coffee-Molasses Marinade


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 slabs (about 2-1/2 pounds each) St. Louis-style spareribs, 2 slabs spareribs (about 3 pounds each), or 3 slabs back ribs (about 1-1/2 pounds each)


  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup mild molasses
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco, or other hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallot or green onions

1. Set aside 1 cup of the used marinade to be cooked into a dipping sauce.

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.

Spareribs with Coffee-Molasses Marinade Adapted from Bruce Aidells's Complete Book of Pork: A Guide to Buying, Storing, and Cooking the World's Favorite Meat (HarperCollins, 2004) © 2004 by Bruce Aidells. All rights reserved.

Serves 6
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