Mouthwatering Pork Spare Ribs (Recipe)
April 21, 2021
We usually eat pretty simply around here. More often than not, meat is seasoned with salt and pepper, stashed in a slow cooker, and left to its own devices all day. Or, with the same minimalist sprinkling of seasoning, is thrown on the grill, or in the frying pan, as the silverware is going on the table. But there are dishes, with actual recipes and requirements for planning, that we savor. And with this week’s beautiful sunny days giving life to the garden and hope to the heart, the cravings for summer favorites grow stronger. For a little scent of summer to come, this week we share with you our favorite recipe for pork spare ribs.
While it takes some planning ahead to make these ribs happen, you can leave most of the hard work to the oven. The long, slow cooking time makes these ribs fall-apart tender, and gives you time to enjoy a book and a beverage in the sun, or perhaps a little time puttering in the garden. The recipe is flexible and gives some options for alternate endings.
The ribs can be finished on the grill or under the broiler in the oven, which makes them perfect for when the weather dictates that we’re really only dreaming of summer barbecue. The ribs can marinate in the dry rub for just a few minutes, or overnight if you want to prepare them ahead. You can use the Barbecue Dry Rub or, if you’d prefer to let the delicious pork flavor play the leading role, simply rub with olive oil, salt and pepper. Any combination of these options will lead to a delicious bite!
A common question is, “how many pounds of ribs do I need per person.” The answer depends to some degree on the appetites of your guests and how many other dishes you are serving. However, we suggest 0.75-1 lb per person, so a 3 lb rack will feed about 3-4 people without many leftovers. If you’re unsure, make a bit more than you think you’ll need because the leftovers are delicious!
2-4 lb St Louis Style Spare Ribs (one full side of ribs)
Dry Rub (recipe below or choose your own)
For the Barbecue Dry Rub
2 ½ T chili powder
2 T cumin
2 T coriander
1 T salt
½ T smoked paprika
½ T brown sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
For the Simple Rub alternative – brush with olive oil then rub with salt and pepper to taste
Initial Oven Roasting: Mix up the dry rub in a small bowl. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Rub a generous amount of Barbecue Dry Rub onto all surfaces of the ribs. Be lavish with the rub – the goal is for the spices to form a crust of deliciousness. Save leftover rub in a jar for future use. Let the seasoned ribs stand for half an hour or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Place in a roasting pan and cover tightly with foil. Roast for about 3 hours. You want them to be tender and starting to fall apart, but if you're going to finish them on the grill you want them still firm enough to manipulate with tongs. The ribs are tasty right out of the oven after this first step, but continuing with the finishing directions gives them an added burst of flavor.
Finishing: To finish, remove from oven and turn on the broiler or pre-heat the outdoor grill. Brush ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce (optional but recommended) and grill or broil to a nice caramelized finish, turning once to crisp up both sides. Allow to stand for a few minutes, then cut between each rib and serve. Make sure to provide lots of napkins. Enjoy!
Party Tips: There are two great ways to finish these ribs to make it easy to work with your party schedule or travel plans.
#1 For a completely ready-to-serve finished dish: Finish the ribs all the way by brushing with barbecue sauce and broiling in the oven. Let them cool, cut them into individual ribs, place them in the tray you want to serve them in, and then place in the fridge until you’re ready to party! These wonderful ribs don’t have to be hot to be delicious, but they’re best served warm or at least at room temperature, so plan just a couple minutes to pop them in a warm oven or microwave immediately before serving.
#2 For the dramatic flare and extra flavor boost of serving hot off the grill: Complete the ribs through the initial oven roasting stage. Take them out of the oven, allow them to cool, and refrigerate until party time. When the grill is hot, brush with barbecue sauce and grill to a beautiful caramelized finish.
Make sure to check out our favorite homemade barbecue sauce recipe! If you enjoy barbecue sauce but don’t like the typical preservative-filled ingredient list on bottled sauce, you’re going to love the simple ingredients and amazing flavor in our homemade version.