Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Recipe: Oven Cooked Spare Ribs

We love BBQ.  And since BBQ comes in different styles, we specifically love tender BBQ ribs with a sweet BBQ sauce.  We have tried many, many different ribs and along the way have learned a few things.  Baby Back Ribs are small and can vary between tough to tender.  Spare ribs are big with big bones and lots of tendons, and also varies between tender and tough. After reading about making ribs, I learned that spare ribs, while bigger has the potential to be more tender.
But, ultimately they are fattier.
BBQ also implies a grill, but it is possible to make tasty ribs in an oven.
The secret ingredient?  Time.
To make the ribs most tender, use a spice rub or not, but cook them slowly on low heat for hours.  Keep them covered while they are cooking so they don't dry up.  Increase the heat for a short time at the end to sear the sauce to the meat.
Oh - and leave space to render the fat.  There is plenty of it!
Open the package of ribs and trim the excess fat off the pork.  You don't want to remove all the fat, but you do want to remove the large bits of fat.
Make a spice rub or not.  It really is a personal choice.  I make a very lightly spiced rub that has very basic ingredients.  I mix salt, brown sugar and chili powder.  You can mix other herbs and spices as well, but these are the three basic ones.  The salt and sugar tenderize the pork, they don't really flavor the meat, the chili powder adds a small bit of flavor.  If you want to add some heat, add more chili powder. I make enough mixture to cover the pork, but not any more.  More is less -- at least in my case.
Take the rub and spoon it on the pork and then with your hands, rub it into the meat.  Do this on both sides of the meat.  
 At this point, it is important to wrap the ribs with plastic wrap, sealing them well.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or as long as overnight.  This gives the rub time to work its magic.
 When you are ready to cook the meat, heat the oven to 260 degrees. Unwrap the ribs and place on a rack on a roasting pan.  Make sure that there is enough room in the pan for 2 cups of liquid, plus more for the fat that is rendered.
Add 2 cups of either white wine or beer to the bottom of the roasting pan.  Cover the ribs securely with tin foil.  Tent the foil so it doesn't rest on the ribs, but instead produces a oven.
Cook at 260 for 2 1/2 to 4 hours. 
 At the end of the end of the cooking time, test the pork for tenderness.  It should easily pull from the bone.  If it resists, give it more time in the oven, in 20 minute increments.  Once it is cooked thoroughly, smear on some BBQ sauce and turn the heat up to 350 and heat the ribs for 10 minutes.
Slice the ribs into either individual ribs or groups of two and enjoy.

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