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Recipe Review: Fennel-Rosemary Ribs


Milk Street continues to maintain its 100% success rate with this recipe.


I know America’s Test Kitchen has proven that you can get the Maillard reaction even when proteins don’t have any contact with pot/pan surfaces but whenever I think about the idea of “sear-free” browning my mind tells me “No, that can’t be right.” Yet here we are–with a platter a ribs that were brown and even had bark on them.

I made these ribs last night. I wasn’t expecting much, because the rub and technique are so simple, but, as I said, here we are.

Rub a rack of St. Louis style ribs with a mix of 2 tbsp. brown sugar plus a half-palmful of ground fennel (crush it yourself if you have the time/inclination), rosemary, a generous pinch of red pepper flakes, plus a generous amount of salt (MS recommends 2 tbsp. I don’t think I used quite that much), and a bit of pepper, of course. MS says to rub the rosemary in between your fingers to activate the oils. (I forgot to do this.)

NOTE: I let the rub stay on the ribs for nearly 24 hours. This may have affected the dish (positively) in some way. [Picture me shrugging now.]


When you’re ready to cook the ribs, place them on a baking sheet, along with 3 cups of water and put them in a preheated 375 degree oven for 2 to 1/2 hours. (I overcooked mine a bit so unless it’s particularly large rack, I’ll probably go for 2 hours next time.) Let rest for 20 minutes before serving. Bask in the adulation you receive from your family or guests. Get cocky. Come on, it’s ok! Just this once! You deserve it, because you’re a culinary genius!

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