Spring is supposedly on its way (or already here? Given the recent snow it’s hard to tell), but as much as I’m trying to will it otherwise, consistent grilling weather simply isn’t here yet. Not that that stops my barbecue cravings of late, mind you. I decided I’d just have to address that craving in the form of oven ribs, a notion that has always filled my Texan heart with skepticism in the past.
No need for that with this recipe though, thank goodness. I suppose it makes sense that I would turn to another native Texan with a small NYC apartment when researching oven rib methods that actually, well, work. Blogger Lisa Fain’s second cookbook, highly recommended by the way, provides an excellent recipe for those of us stuck inside for the time being, whether that be because of weather or March Madness*.
Matt and I loved these! I debated between several different spare rib recipes in my cookbook arsenal, but that peppery crust on these particular ribs convinced me. We are peppery, spicy people in this house, and that crust was really phenomenal. Sort of reminded me of the French au poivre topping usually reserved for steaks, but that thick pepper crust was accompanied by a well-lacquered tangy barbecue sauce layer. Overall, extremely delicious, and I will admit to being actually happy to have a great oven ribs recipe in my bag of tricks, much as I love the grill. Enjoy!
*I am, at best, a listless observer of March Madness these days, seeing as Baylor lost out on the FIRST round. To … dear god don’t even say it … Yale. My husband, who is not a Baylor alum, is a much more enthusiastic viewer. So I do understand this aspect of being stuck inside for meals.
2 tbs kosher salt
2 tbs black pepper
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp chipotle chile powder
2 slabs St. Louis-cut spareribs, about 2 lbs. each
Coarsely cracked black pepper, for garnish
1 cup canned tomato sauce
1 cup ketchup
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 tbs molasses
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp black pepper
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cayenne
Pinch of ground cloves
½ tsp smoked paprika
Salt, to taste
Liquid smoke, to taste (optional)
First make the rub for the ribs: mix together the salt, pepper, brown sugar, smoked paprika, and chipotle chile powder. Sprinkle each slab of ribs evenly with the rub, then double wrap in aluminum foil, making a note of which is the meat side. Refrigerate the ribs for 2 to 8 hours.
Preheat the oven to 275 F. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil. Place the foil-wrapped ribs, meat side up, on the baking sheets, and bake for 1 ½ hours to 2 hours.
While the ribs are baking, make the BARBECUE SAUCE. In a medium pot, stir together the tomato sauce, ketchup, garlic, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire, molasses, brown sugar, black pepper, cumin, cayenne, and cloves. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to low, and gently simmer for 30 minutes, occasionally stirring. After 30 minutes, stir in the smoked paprika, plus salt and liquid smoke to taste (if using).
After 1 ½ hours, lift the foil to check on the ribs. If the meat hasn’t really pulled back from the bones, cook another 30 minutes under the foil. If they are looking mostly done, proceed with the recipe.
Brush the meat side of the ribs with some of the barbecue sauce, then bake another 30 minutes. Brush with the sauce again, and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, keeping a careful eye on how much the meat has pulled back from the bone. You don’t want to overcook them.
Once the ribs are done, turn on the broiler and place a rack 6 inches away from the heating element. Remove the rib slabs from the foil and discard. Drain any residual fat from the baking sheets and brush the ribs with more sauce. Broil 1 to 3 minutes, until dark spots start to appear. Remove the ribs, garnish with the coarse black pepper and let stand for 10 minutes. Use a serrated knife to cut the slab into individual ribs. Serve with the extra barbecue sauce on the side.