Dry-Rub Oven Babyback Pork Ribs
Not wanting to start Regional Barbecue World War Three, here’s a non-denominational recipe for oven ribs.
"I serve these with potato salad or coleslaw on the side, and ballpark a half-rack per person, at least."
2 racks babyback pork ribs
1+ cup brown sugar
chile powder, to taste
paprika, to taste
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
garlic powder, to taste
onion powder, to taste
cayenne, to taste
dried tarragon, to taste
dried thyme, to taste
dry mustard, to taste
Chef's Tip: All ingredients are listed to taste, it's recommend to start at 1 tablespoon per, keeping in mind the chili powders carry heat. You decide!
1. Get a couple of racks of babyback pork ribs. Remove the membranes—that milky/translucent skin that clings to the bones like a wet piece of notebook paper—from the back of the racks.
2. Raid your spice cabinet and the cabinet where you keep brown sugar. What do you have? You'll want a lot of brown sugar. You'll also want, vaguely in order of importance: chili powder, paprika, salt, black pepper, but also garlic powder, onion powder. Some cayenne for extra kick. I think I use a pinch of dried herbs like tarragon or thyme sometimes, and whatever else is in there. Dry mustard.
3. Mix the rub in a bowl or coffee mug. Use a lot of brown sugar, like a cup. You can use the rest of this rub for a sauce (below) and also for next time if you make too much. Add a couple tablespoons of salt and a lot of ground black pepper. Enough chili powder and paprika for lots of color. Et cetera. Mix it all up. Have fun!
4. Rub it all up on/over the ribs. Just get 'em good and covered. This will turn into your spicy, sweet, meaty crust in the oven. Wrap the rib racks in Saran wrap, or generic. Leave them in the fridge overnight or for a while, whatever. You don't need too much lead time because you're cooking slow and low.
5. Leave the ribs out long enough to be not-cold. Heat your oven to 250° F. Mount the ribs on something where they are perched, so they can get all the good hot air around them. Leave them in the over for like four hours. Just let them be and do their thing. Toward the end, I check on the ribs and kick the heat up to something high to give them a little extra crust to play counterpoint to the tender, slow-cooked meat inside.
Optional: Make a simple sauce on the stovetop. I start with any store-bought barbecue sauce I have. Even if I don't have any, this will taste good. Heat up a lot of butter in a saucepan. Dice up an onion super fine and cook it down until translucent but not brown. Add some of your leftover rib rub (a few tablespoons?) until it's toasty, then a bunch of ketchup, about as much apple cider vinegar, maybe a little Dijon mustard and the juice of a lemon if you have it. Keep stirring it all up and bring it to a boil, then simmer. Add more of the same stuff if you think it needs it. Let it cook down for a while and serve it with the ribs.