by Pitmaster Jimi James
Why do people think boiling ribs is how you cook ribs?
This makes them mushy, and there is no flavor to the meat, even if you season the water. Everyone always seems to ask me about fall-off-the-bone ribs. You do NOT want your ribs to just fall off the bone. Before we get started though, let me take a minute to explain what you DO want.
1. The ribs should be tender and juicy, but they should have a slight pull when you bite into them. The rib meat should not all come off the bone in one bite.
2. You also should be able to taste a hint of spices from the dry rub and not a mountain of spice covering the taste of the ribs.
3. BBQ sauce should be a choice, NOT a must for ribs. I brush my ribs with sauce when they are just about done, but my ribs do not swim in sauce, because I want you to experience the flavors of the rib meat, the spices and the sauce.
I, myself, prefer to create levels of flavor in ribs, not just one big flavor. Aaron Franklin of Franklin BBQ in Austin, Texas, said in an interview about BBQing, “If people are complementing you on your bbq sauce over your ribs, you’ve done something wrong!!!”
Today, I’ll show you a way to make some ribs in your oven that are so gooood your dinner guests will be licking their chins!!!!!!!
Ribs cooked on a smoker are best, but not everyone has a smoker or wants to get into smoking meat. The technique I’m about to show you will make tender, juicy ribs any time of the year. The ribs bathe in a hot, moist sauna-like conditions. When these babies are ready, they will almost fall of the bone. There is no need to brine or marinate these ribs.
…SO LET’S GET TO IT!!!!!
Pitmaster’s Best Oven Ribs
Recipe: You will need one slab of baby back ribs, spare ribs or St. Louis style ribs.
Prep Time: About 30 Minutes
Cooking time: About 3 ½ hours for baby backs. ( Add 2 hours to your cooking time for thicker, heavier cuts of meat (i.e., Spare Ribs and St. Louis style).
1 Rack of ribs
4-6 Tbsp of my country style rub (see ingredients below), or use your own store bought
1 Tbsp of oil (Olive or Canola oil are best)
1 cup of BBQ sauce
For Country Style Rub:
1 C brown sugar
½ C kosher salt
¼ C Sweet Hungarian paprika
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 Tbsp oregano
2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp celery seed
Mix all seasonings together in a bowl and store in an air tight container.
* Note: You can also use this rub as a seasoning for chicken or pork chops on the grill!!
About The Sauce: You can use bottled sauce straight from the shelf. If you do this, make sure it calls itself “smoky.” If you cannot find anything that says smoky, just do this:
1. Get an 18 oz. bottle of your favorite sauce. Empty it into a sauce pan.
2. Add ½ a stick of butter, ½ Cup of brown sugar and ½ Cup of Honey.
3. Next add a tsp of liquid smoke to the mixture.
4. Now bring the sauce up to a boil making sure you stir constantly while heating. The sauce has sugar in it, and you don’t want it to burn.
5. After the sauce has reached a boil, turn it down to simmer for 10 minutes. Shut it off, take it off the burner and let it cool in the sauce pan.
NOTE: When I do NOT make my own sauce, I use Sweet Baby Ray’s Original for this step.
However, if you prefer to make your own, here is what you will need.
Making BBQ Sauce:
3 cups ketchup
2/3cup dark brown sugar
½ cup water
½ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup tomato paste
2 tbsp yellow mustard
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated onion powder
1 tsp granulated garlic powder
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cayenne
1. Mix all ingredients together in a sauce pan. Make sure to mix all ingredients together with a whisk.
2. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer for 30 minutes.
Makes about 4 cups.
Don’t tell your family and friends that I gave you the Dry Rub and BBQ Sauce recipes. Tell them it’s your secret recipes. I won’t tell if you don’t!!!!
AND FINALLY…let’s pull it altogether!
My Method for the Best Ever Oven Baked Ribs!!!!
Use a broiler pan if you have one. If you don’t have a broiler pan, you can use any pan with a wire grate on top. You can even place the ribs right on the oven grate with a pan underneath. When I put my ribs right on the grate, besides placing a pan under the ribs, I also cover the lower grate with foil, just to make sure there are no messes. The idea is to keep the meat from swimming in the fat that renders from the meat when cooking, and to catch the plentiful drips so they don’t hit the bottom of the oven and make a huge mess, or worse, catch fire! If necessary, cut the slab to fit over the pan.
The first thing we are going to do with our ribs is to remove the membrane. Turn your ribs over to the bone side. There is a layer of skin called a membrane that we are going to remove. This will help the meat fall of the bone.
You can stick a spoon handle or butter knife under the membrane to loosen it. Get a few paper towels, fold them together and grab a hold of the membrane and pull it off the ribs slowly.
It should all come off in one pull, but if it doesn’t, just pick what didn’t come off in the first try. Coat the meaty side of the ribs with oil and season it with the dry rub. You don’t need a ton, sprinkle liberally, but you should still be able to see the meat through the rub. Remember we’re creating layers of flavor here. You DO NOT want the rub to overpower the natural flavor of the ribs. Do not oil and season the bone side. It has a tendency to burn in the next step. If time permits, you can wrap the ribs in plastic wrap and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight. The oil helps the rub penetrate slightly, like a dry marinade, and both the oil and rub also help the meat brown and form a crust. . . I’m getting’ HUNGRY!!!!!!!!
About 3 ½ to 5 ½ hours before dinner, preheat your oven to 225 degrees. Put an oven rack in the middle of the oven. This is the rack to use to cook your ribs, no matter what pan or method you chose from step 1. Put a pan onto the rack just below that rack. Your going to use this pan to put water in, so get a cookie sheet or cake pan and pour in enough hot water to fill it about 1/2″ to 1″ deep. Once your oven is up to temp, take your ribs that you rubbed and place on the top rack in the pan you chose or right on the grate. Bake for 3 to 5 hours at 225°F depending on what cut of ribs you chose. Baby Back Ribs should take about 3 hrs. Spare ribs should take about 5 hrs. Check every 30 minutes or so to make sure the water has not evaporated. If it has, add more.
Some people like to use a bend test to see when their ribs are done. I suggest an instant read thermometer. Insert in the meat between the bones for a temp of 160 to 185 degrees. Now once it gets to one of those internal temps and you decide you want to bend the ribs and see how pliable they are, please use gloves that are heat resistant. Remember the ribs are HHHOOOTTT!!!!
When they have come to temp, turn the slab meaty side down. Slather the bone side with the sauce and broil for 5 minutes with the oven door partially open or until the sauce bubbles, watching closely to make sure it doesn’t burn. I leave the door open so the oven cools a bit and to make sure the thermostat doesn’t turn off the broiler. Repeat for the meaty side. On the last steps of applying sauce, you can apply and broil as many times you’d like. Just make sure the sauce doesn’t burn. You can also apply once to each side, and then put sauce at the table and let your guests apply sauce to their ribs for themselves.
When word gets out about YOUR ribs, and your ability to make them any time of the year. . . Expect friends, family and folks from 8 countries reading Libidacoria Magazine to show up at your place!!!! Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!!
Send invitations for our entire staff in the comments section below. ;)
Stay Hungry My Friends!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Pitmaster Jimi James