The quest for the best ribs
Barbecue pork ribs often top the list of recommendations at many roadhouses and southern eateries. Not surprisingly, there are many regional variations of what has been called America’s quintessential Fourth of July dish by the Washington Post.
Typically, ribs are rubbed with a spice blend then slow-cooked or warm-smoked then coated with barbecue sauce. When it comes to cut of meat, cooking method, seasoning and sauce – let’s just say, that’s where the competition begins.
There are rib festivals, competitions and rivalries across North America. Always ranking near the top are the St. Louis-style barbecue spareribs. With their trimmed skirt, tips and point, they are rectangular-shaped and slathered in a rich barbecue sauce. Barbecue rib variations beckon a road trip to sample contenders from the top regional rivals that include the Carolinas, Kansas City, Texas and Memphis.
Low and slow oven method
For any number of reasons, you may not be able to smoke your ribs. But that’s okay. This easy recipe uses the low and slow oven method to make some delicious fall-of-the-bone, baby back ribs. You could make this recipe with other rib cuts such as St. Louis spareribs. As a general rule, one slab should be enough for two to three people, in this recipe we’ll make two slabs.
Make sure the ribs are thawed first, then check to see if there is a membrane on the underside of the rack. This is known the peritoneum and if the butcher hasn’t removed it then you’ll need to do so to ensure the ribs are not chewy. Removing it is much like removing a sheet of plastic wrapping. With the help of a knife, separate a corner of the membrane, then use a paper towel to get a better grip and pull it away from the meat. Next, rub the slabs with the spice blend. You could put the ribs into the roast pan and oven at this point, but I prefer to cut the rib slab(s) into three-bone portions first. This avoids some messy handling when you’re ready to serve them. After you get the ribs in the oven, you’ll have plenty of time to make your sauce. You’ll brush the ribs with the homemade barbecue sauce after you drain them during the last half hour of cooking.
Slow Roast Barbecue Ribs
The Ribs and Dry Rub
- 2 slabs of baby back ribs about 2 lbs. each
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp fresh black pepper
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
Homemade Barbecue Sauce
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- ½ cup tomato paste
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup molasses
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic (1 clove)
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Remove membrane from the underside of the ribs.
- Blend the spices for the dry rub, then rub both sides of the ribs with it.
- Cut ribs into serving portion size. For dinner plates, this is usually three bones per serving.
- Place ribs in a large roast pan, bone side down, cover and roast for 1 ½-2 hours (until tender).
- Meanwhile, prepare the barbecue sauce. Bring all sauce ingredients to a boil, then simmer for about 40-50 minutes, uncovered to allow the sauce to thicken.
- After the ribs are cooked, drain the grease from the pan then brush the sauce over the ribs.
- Return ribs to the oven and slow roast (bone side up), covered for another 30-40 minutes.
- The ribs will hold well and should stay moist for up to an hour.
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