I came across this post on The Kitchn a couple months ago and bookmarked it for the future. How to cook ribs in one’s oven. As my flat is balconyless and gardenless, and hence barbecueless, the idea appealed. I bought two racks of spare ribs at the farmers’ market and got to work. The link points to a method but not to a full recipe and I chose to use a dry rub on my spare ribs and leave it at that.

This dry rub was knocked together based on a number of other recipes online as well as what I had in my cupboards. I’d never made one before but luckily, there seems to be a simple formula for it: for every 2-3 parts sugar, add about 1 part salt and then add spices. Feel free to add and remove whatever you like from the recipe I used below as it’s just a starting point; thankfully this combination of sugar, salt and spices made for a delicious seasoning to my ribs. I’m definitely going to play around with this recipe every time I cook ribs! I’ll have to come up with a barbecue sauce too one day.

Spare Ribs

After the allocted cooking time in the oven, separating the ribs were a simple task as the meat was just flaking easily. They came out tender but still with a good meaty chew (unlike the soft melting-off-the-bone meat you tend to get from ribs that have been boiled first). I adored them though I am disappointed that my baking sheet’s only big enough to handle two racks of spare ribs! I served them with some potato salad on the side and we sat in front of the television, munching away rather happily.

Dry Rub
for 2 racks of spare ribs

4 tbsps light brown sugar
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp seasoned salt (I used Lawry’s)
1/4 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp hot smoked paprika (pimentón)
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. This is enough for 2 racks of spare ribs.

Ribs

Spare Ribs in the Oven
adapted from The Kitchn.

The ribs must cook in a single layer on a baking sheet in your oven so don’t buy more than this. For me, this was two large racks of spare ribs. Coat the ribs with a good layer of dry rub, patting it in well. If there’s any rub leftover, set it aside. Wrap each rack individually in tinfoil and place in the fridge for at least an hour and overnight at best.

Preheat your grill. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Place a metal rack (like the kind you use to cool biscuits) on top of the lined baking sheet. After the rest in the fridge, unwrap the ribs and lay them on the rack in a single layer with the meatier side facing up (usually so the ribs are curving outwards). Sprinkle any leftover rub on top. Slide your baking sheet with the ribs under the grill and cook them until the meaty side browns and is tinged with gold.

Set your oven to 150 Celsius and place your oven rack in the middle of the oven. Place the whole baking sheet on the rack and let them bake. After about 1 hour in the oven, cover the ribs loosely with tinfoil to prevent them burning. Continue baking for another 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until a knife slides easily into the meat between the ribs. So, that’s a total of 2-1/2 to 3 hours baking. (If you’re using baby back ribs, reduce the cooking time to about 1-1/2 to 2 hours total baking time).

Separate the ribs into individual pieces with a sharp knife when the ribs are cool enough to handle. Serve!

We liked the ribs as they were but should you need a barbecue sauce with them, you can just provide bowls of it for dipping (I did that). You can also brush the spare rib racks with sauce just when they’re almost done, running them under the grill again if you want it to really bake on.