It’s Father’s Day this Sunday, and I can’t think of a better way to make your dad happy than with a rack of delectable, meat-falling-off-the-bones, sticky, messy baby back ribs.
Our family’s favorite recipe also happens to be incredibly easy. Most of the cooking time occurs in the oven, where the ribs cook nice and slow until they’re rendered tender and juicy. Then they’re brushed with barbecue sauce and finished on the grill, giving them those distinctive grill marks and the smoky flavor that implies all-day fussing.
I used baby back ribs, but you can also use this technique for regular spare ribs, which are sometimes called St. Louis-style spareribs; you’ll see a note at the end of the recipe with simple recipe adjustments.
One more thing. The name “baby back” always makes me feel squeamish, but rest assured that the ribs are from adult pork. The name refers to the cut, which is shorter in relation to bigger spareribs. Stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts sell ethically raised pork from high welfare producers like Niman Ranch.
Let’s Make Some Tasty Pork Ribs
Begin by using that weird little boning knife in your knife set to remove any excess fat and membranes you can remove easily. Don’t sweat this step, just trim things up a bit if needed.
I guess now would be a good time to confess that I usually purchase a disposable aluminum roasting pan for this recipe.
Yes, I do feel guilty using a disposable pan because it’s not green. On the other hand, scrubbing the roasting pan uses a lot of water and causes me brain damage because it’s such a mess. When I’m done with the disposable pan, I wipe it out and put in the recycle bin. I don’t know what the perfect answer is to this conundrum, but do you ever struggle with these choices like I do?
Anyway, you can use a roasting pan with a rack, or buy a disposable pan with some bumpy places at the bottom. Do what works best for you, and either one will be fine.
Arrange the ribs in the bottom of the pan, and if you’re using a disposable pan put it on a baking sheet for stability.
Sprinkle the ribs all over liberally with Liquid Smoke. If you haven’t used it before, Liquid Smoke sounds like the weirdest product. It tastes like wet charred hickory wood chips, and imparts a very pure smoke flavor without any of the work normally involved with smoking meat.
Next, use a brush to distribute the Liquid Smoke all over the ribs. Then sprinkle them with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
If you’re prone to guilt like me, you might feel bad about using garlic powder and think that perhaps a “real” cook should peel and mince fresh garlic and rub that on the ribs. You certainly could, but believe me when I tell you that garlic powder was made for a recipe like this. You can sprinkle it on every nook and cranny of the ribs, and it won’t burn and get bitter on the grill like fresh garlic. So put that guilt away and do something fun during the time you saved chopping garlic, like reading Garrison Keillor’s recent limerick about trying to relax on a cruise ship.
Add 1/3 cup of water to the bottom of the pan and cover it tightly with aluminum foil. I fold together two pieces of foil and make a little seam in the middle to cover the whole pan.
Tuck the pan in the oven and bake the ribs for 2 hours. Your house will start to smell amazing! Your neighbors will drop by under the guise of borrowing tools just to see what you’re cooking.
During the second hour of baking, heat your grill to medium high so that it’s ready when the ribs are done. Brush the grill grate with a little peanut oil so the ribs don’t stick. Brush the ribs all over with barbecue sauce and place them on the grill.
Cook them for about 6-8 minutes on each side, brushing occasionally with more sauce.
Remove to a platter, tent it with foil and cool for 5 minutes. Then use a sharp knife to cut between each rib.
Serve with more sauce on the side. Enjoy! Here’s the easy recipe:
- 2 racks baby back ribs, trimmed of excess fat and membrane
- 1/4 cup Liquid Smoke flavoring
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup water
- peanut oil for brushing grill
- 2 cups barbecue sauce of your choice
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and move the oven rack to the center of the oven if necessary.
- Arrange the ribs in a roasting pan and brush with the Liquid Smoke flavoring on both sides. Sprinkle both sides with the garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Use a measuring cup to pour the water in a corner of the pan. (Don't pour the water over the ribs or the seasonings will wash off!) Cover the pan tightly with foil.
- Bake ribs for 2 hours. About 30 minutes before the ribs are done, preheat a grill to medium-high heat.
- Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing foil. Transfer the ribs to a large pan or platter and brush all over with barbecue sauce.
- Brush the grill grate with peanut oil to prevent sticking. Arrange the rib racks on the grill and cook until grill marks appear and barbecue sauce gets sticky, about 6 minutes per side.
- Transfer the ribs from the grill to a pan or platter and tent with foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Use a sharp knife to cut between the ribs. Serve accompanied with additional barbecue sauce.
If using St. Louis-style spareribs, the slabs are usually larger; an average 2.5 pound slab will generally feed about 3 people. Increase the Liquid Smoke, salt, pepper, water and barbecue sauce proportionally, and bake the St. Louis-style ribs for 2.5 to 3 hours in the oven until meat is tender before transferring to the grill.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 778Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 132mgSodium: 2403mgCarbohydrates: 69gFiber: 2gSugar: 55gProtein: 38g
Here’s an image for saving and sharing on Pinterest:
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Have a great weekend, and happy Father’s Day to all the great guys out there who love and care for kids.