• Yield: Serves 6

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.

Bruce Aidells is a food writer and the founder of Aidells Sausage Company. He has written 11 cookbooks, two of which were nominated for James Beard awards and one of which received the IACP Julia Child award for Best Single Subject Cookbook. Aidells is a contributing editor at Bon Appetit and Eating Well, as well as a contributor to Fine Cooking, Food and Wine, Gourmet, Cooking Pleasures, Real Food and Cooking Light.