We love spare ribs at home and have started eating them even more recently. It’s the primaeval joy of chomping on your food while holding it in your fingers; something our kids truly adore. In these straightened times, it is also great to use one of those cheap cuts of meat to create a delicious and fun meal, especially using a recipe that is really simple; food really must be fun rather than prim, proper and stuffy and that is why it always tastes better at home or in someone else’s house rather than a restaurant (or at least in my opinion).
And now that the nights are drawing in and you realise that there was no real summer this year, so you hardly barbecued a single thing, your mind can drift and dream of what might have been. So over the summer, I came across this cheat way of making Barbecue-Style Ribs in your oven at home by Harald McGee via the Smitten Kitchen blog. It makes far superior homemade ribs compared to recipes by the likes of Nigella Lawson.
The key to this cheat way of making smoky barbecued spare ribs is the slow cooking, which softens up the meat and breaks down the connective tissue in between the ribs. Also, it is in the barbecue rub which is a good balance between sweetness and salty savouriness, plus through another cheat you can add back in the smokiness by using some smoked paprika from Murcia in Spain or smoked sea salt like Maldon Sea Salt, Anglesey Sea Salt or Steenbergs smoked salt from Denmark. This gives the illusion of hours spent slaving over a hot fire.
Other than that, this is a really forgiving meal – you can pretty much play around with the seasonings as much as you want, and tweak the cooking times to suit your day. For example, as long as you keep a long bake, you can turn up the heat to 110C/230F and cook it all in 4 hours rather than 6 hours without much of an impact, or you could change some or all of the paprika for chilli, even ground or flaked chile chiloptle to get in some more smokiness and intense bursts of chile heat.
How To Make Oven Barbecued Ribs
1kg /2.5lb spare ribs, cut into 2 equal sections
75g / 2¾ oz / ½ cup dark brown muscovado sugar
1tbsp sweet paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sea salt (you could use smoked salt here)
1 tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground star anise, or China 5 spice
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 pinch ground coriander
Preheat the oven to 95C / 200F.
Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together thoroughly.
Get two lengths of aluminium foil that are 3 times the length of the ribs as you are going to make this into 2 packets fully to enclose the spare ribs. Place the ribs onto each piece of aluminium, centred horizontally but two-thirds of the way down vertically.
Cover the spare ribs throughly on all sides with the barbecue rub, rubbing in vigorously.
Now, make the aluminium foil into pouches: firstly, fold over vertically moving the ribs to ensure the ends meet, then fold the foil over a few times and flatten edges to give a good seal; secondly, fold the foil over lengthways once or twice (I like to do this twice as there always seems to be a small hole that gets into the foil, ruining the seal) and crimp the edges again to make a sealed pouch. If you have got time, leave the ribs to marinade in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, otherwise move straight to the slow cooking part.
Place into preheated oven, then cook for 4 hours at 95C/200F, then turn down the temperature and cook for a further 2 hours at 80C/ 175F.
Remove from the oven, open the pouches, pour the sauce into a bowl. Place the ribs onto a preheated serving plate and drizzle the sauce over the ribs and serve.