I did a thing, you guys. It involved these baby back ribs, my oven, and a grill. Are you in enough suspense? As much as people may think ribs require loads of work to be good, that’s simply not true. Baby back ribs- all ribs, in fact- just need the right prep and you can leave them to their own devices. I’m going to show you how.
Missed the Shot?
I have no idea why I forgot to take my infamous ingredient shot, but I did. Don’t worry though. All you need is my Meat Spice Blend, brown sugar, mustard, curry powder, sazón, beer, and a couple of racks of baby back ribs, you’ll impress yourself and others with your rib-making skills.
Grab a mixing bowl and combine the mustard and the meat spice blend. Now, with these baby back ribs, you’ll need to decide if you like yours seasoned heavily, or just so-so. In my family, we believe that a good rib shouldn’t need any sauce at all, so I go a little heavier on the seasoning. If you have to have BBQ sauce, first: get help, second: go easy on the salt. All this is to say that I add an additional tablespoon of salt to the meat spice blend.
Combine these two with a rubber spatula or a spoon.
To give my ribs even more flavor, and some color, I add both two packets of Goya sazón (one packet per rack of ribs) and Jamaican curry powder. Jamaican curry powder is mellower in flavor than Indian or Thai curry powders, but it still gives amazing color to the ribs.
The final ingredient in the baby back rib rub (say that five times fast) is light brown sugar.
Once all of these have been added, mix it up again until you’ve formed a clumpy spice rub.
Baby Backs vs. Other Ribs
When we’re speaking of ribs, there’s about 5 that we could be referring to. Pork ribs, obviously, come from the rib cage of the pig. Country ribs, flanken (or flat) ribs, spare ribs, and St. Louis style are all the other varieties of pork ribs you can find in stores nowadays. These baby back ribs are highly-prized because they are cut from the area near the back of the pig that has the better meat because it’s not as tough. Other ribs are not as generous with the amount of meat they have on them. While I’m not an exclusive baby back rib eater, I do prefer these over any other type of rib.
No matter which rib you prefer, they all (with the exception of the flanken and country rib) require a long cooking period at a low temperature to ensure tenderness. A common myth is that ribs should be fall-of-the-bone tender. That would actually cause you to lose points in a BBQ competition. The rib should still have a bit of chew to them and falling off the bone is not a sign that a rib is properly made; while tenderness and flavor are.
Season and Marinate the Racks
To get the flavor part down, we just need to line a sheet pan with aluminum foil to use as a holding vessel for our ribs. I have two full racks of baby backs here. Weight will vary, but this recipe is good for two average-sized racks. Once you’ve removed the ribs from their packages, “wash” them with white distilled vinegar. We’re not really washing them so much as removing the cryovac slime and getting a headstart on marinating. The acid in the vinegar will begin to break down that tough connective tissue in the ribs and begin the process of tenderizing our meat. Don’t worry about drying them off. Just put them onto the prepared sheet pans.
Slather half of the spice rub on to the tops of both racks of ribs. Flip them over and slather on the other half of the spice rub.
As you can see, I began with that spatula and grew impatient and switched to using my hands.
Stack the seasoned rib racks on top of one another and wrap them tightly in plastic film. Tightly, my friend. The object is to prevent that seasoning from going anywhere but into the meat. The plastic wrap is like the bouncer that keeps you from having the time of your life in the hottest club.
Wrap them again in foil to contain any leaks that may occur while the ribs are marinating. Return the racks to the sheet pan (discard that foil you dirtied with the seasoning) and marinate the ribs for 24 hours, or overnight.
Braise the Ribs. Start with the Oven
This is What it Does
Am I lying? Isn’t it gorgeous?
Yes, it is, I know. I told you.
Not falling off the bone, and still so juicy and flavorful. Tender, too. This is the way ribs should be enjoyed. Straight with no BBQ sauce chaser. Save and share this recipe for the BBQ season, which is upon us!
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Baby Back Ribs Braised Low and Slow
- 2 full racks of baby back ribs
- 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
- 1/3 cup prepared yellow mustard
- 1/4 cup Meat Spice Blend (link below)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, optional
- 2 packets Goya sazón seasoning
- 1 tablespoon Jamaican curry powder
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- 1 12 oz bottle of lager (beer)
Marinate the Ribs
- Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil to use as a holding vessel for the ribs.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the mustard, meat spice blend, salt, sazón, curry powder, sugar, and red pepper flakes (if using).
- Remove the ribs from the packaging and "wash" them with white distilled vinegar. Don't dry the ribs as the moisture will help the spice rub adhere to the ribs. Arrange the ribs on the prepared sheet pan.
- Slather half of the spice rub on to one side of the racks of ribs. Flip them over and coat the other side with the remaining spice rub.
- Stack the seasoned rib racks on top of one another and wrap them tightly in plastic film, then wrap them again in foil. This will contain any leaks that may occur while the ribs are marinating. Return the racks to the sheet pan and marinate the ribs in the refrigerator for 24 hours, or overnight.
Cook the Ribs
- Preheat your oven to 250°F. Place an oven rack in the lower part of the oven.
- Unwrap the ribs and arrange them, in a single layer, in a large roasting pan. Pour the ale or lager over the ribs and cover the pan, tightly, with aluminum foil.
- Cook the ribs for 3 hours, or until their internal temperature reaches 190°F.
- A half-hour before the ribs are due to come out of the oven, preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high heat.
- Transfer the ribs to the pre-heated grill and sear them for 5-6 minutes on each side. Remove them from the grill and allow them to rest for 15 minutes before cutting and enjoying.