Sunday, June 19, 2011

Oven-Barbecued Spareribs

Lacking a grill, your oven works well for ribs. Here, they're
served with a side of polenta, a good choice for ribs.

If you don't have a grill and/or you don't want to barbecue in the middle of winter, your only alternative is the oven. Ribs in the oven are remarkably easy to make. Use baby backs and a barbecue sauce you like. I use Sweet Baby Ray's Original. Or make your own.

  • 1, 2-3 pound slab baby-back spare ribs
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2-4 whole cloves*
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 10 ounces barbecue sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's original)
  • Cayenne pepper
  • brown sugar, light or dark

Remove the thin silver membrane from the back of the ribs and cut the slab into serving-size pieces. Clean ribs by placing in a pot, filling with cold water and draining. Do this several times. 

 I had to settle for pork loin backribs which are not as tender
as baby backs, but they do have more meat.

Fill pot with clean, cold water just until ribs are covered. Add the onion, whole cloves, and garlic. Bring just to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered for another 30 minutes. (Be careful not to boil your ribs. It will toughen the meat.)

Place ribs meat side up in an oiled pan but do not throw out the braising water. Cover each portion with barbecue sauce. Lightly dust with cayenne by holding the container two feet above ribs and lightly tapping. 

Crumble brown sugar on top of barbecue sauce and cayenne, about 2 tablespoons or so for each portion. Add several tablespoons of water to the pan. Cover tightly with foil and place in a 250-degree oven. After one hour or so remove from oven. The sauce, sugar and water will have turned into a glaze. Baste the ribs with this glaze, including underside and, if necessary, add a bit more water from the braising liquid. Re-cover and place in oven for an additional 60 minutes basting occasionally. Remove and check for tenderness.

Baby backs will cook faster and should be done after two hours in the oven. If the ribs are thick and/or tough you may need an additional hour.

Sticky, sweet and spicy . . . finger licking at it's best!

If you want, place under the broiler for a few minutes to achieve a "grilled" look. Do not step away from ribs when under the broiler. They can burn quickly.

Plate and serve. Have plenty of napkins.

(Serves 2 or, as an appetizer, 4-6)

*Sometimes I omit cloves and use a teaspoon or so of pickling spice--not a lot--just enough to add another layer of flavor to the meat.

Note: Total cooking time in the oven can be anywhere for  2 - 4 hours, so keep that in mind. It's important to keep the ribs covered and a bit of liquid added to they don't dry out. Things will get messy, as the photo above shows. But that's the nature (and fun) of eating ribs!