So I get asked a lot about how to properly prepare Spareribs. First, what are spareribs? Spareribs are considered the most flavorful and succulent of the rib family. Spareribs are pork, of course, and are cut from the bottom section of the ribs and breastbone of the pig, just above the belly. (Baby back ribs are from the top of the rib area along the back.) With the removal of the bacon, a thin layer of meat remains on the spareribs. Spareribs are considered to be more meaty and succulent than baby back ribs. Now how do you prepare ribs for the Bar-B-Que?
There is an important question you must ask yourself first, boil or not to boil. That is the question. You CANNOT buy ribs and then just grill them. They WILL be tough to eat and you will never get all the meat off the bone. They MUST be prepped before grilling or baking.
So what do I do? I have boiled and braised, but more often than not, I put them in the pressure cooker. I find that cooking them faster in the pressure cooker helps maintain some of the flavor that is lost in boiling the ribs.
There are both pros and cons for boiling spareribs.
• Pro: Since the ribs are fatty, many cooks choose to parboil spareribs for a short time or boil for an extended period of time to render out the fat, tenderize the rib meat, and shorten cooking time. The ribs are then further cooked on the grill or in the oven, usually with a Bar-B-Que sauce.
• Con: Boiling the meat not only renders out the fat, it also naturally releases the spareribs natural juices, both of which contain the true flavor of the ribs. Although spareribs are often served glazed or with a bar-b-que sauce, the meat itself can be dry. Long cooking with low heat either by oven or indirect heat on a grill accomplishes the same tenderness and fat-rendering goals without loss of flavor or moisture
BOILING: I recommend Par Boiling which is a slow rolling boil for about 15 to 30 minutes.
In a 9x13 pan add enough water
In a large pot cover the ribs with cold water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a very light boil and remove after about 20 to 30 minutes or so.
Cut Racks into quarters so they fit and add about 1 to 2 cuos of water. Lock lid and bring to boil, then pressure cook for about 8 to 10 minutes
ON THE GRILL:
After boiling, braising or pressure cooking the ribs, place them on a pre-heated grill that has been sprayed with oil. Grill the ribs about 8 to 10 minutes on low to medium low fire. During the last 2 minutes of cooking slather the top with your bar-b-que sauce that has been slightly warmed on the side burner or in the microwave and flip over for one minute. Slather the other side now while the sauce side down is cooking, after the minute for side one is up, flip and cook again for another minute. Slather more bar-b-que sauce on the top while the other side is cooking. If you cook it any longer, the sugar in the bar-b-que sauce will burn and ruin the ribs. Warm some sauce on the side and serve with the ribs
I also have braised them in the oven. This takes longer but makes for a better tasting rib. Here is a great way to tenderize them before grilling. You should make a dry rub and a braising liquid. This is my favorite recipe for braising.
For 2 whole slabs pork baby back ribs:
8 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Jalapeno Seasoning (Optional)
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon rubbed thyme
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon honey 2 cloves garlic, chopped
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well.
Place each slab of baby back ribs on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side down.
Sprinkle each side generously with the dry rub.
Pat the dry rub into the meat.
Refrigerate the ribs for a minimum of 1 hour.
In a microwavable container, combine all ingredients for the braising liquid.
Microwave on high for 1 minute.
Place the ribs on a baking sheet.
Open one end of the foil on each slab and pour half of the braising liquid into each foil packet.
Tilt the baking sheet in order to equally distribute the braising liquid.
Braise the ribs in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.
Transfer the braising liquid into a medium saucepot.
Bring the liquid to a simmer and reduce by half or until of a thick syrup consistency.
Brush the glaze onto the ribs.
Place under the broiler just until the glaze caramelizes lightly.
Slice each slab into 2 rib bone portions.
Place the remaining hot glaze into a bowl and toss the rib portions in the glaze.
This recipe makes several batches of dry rub.
IN THE OVEN:
Simple Way: I will often cook my ribs in a 9x13 pan of shallow water, covered with foil at 275 degrees for about 2 hours. (This is actually another way of par boiling)
Then I finish them on the grill. (See on the Grill above)
Or: You can also bake them in the oven. I do not favor this as much. They can taste kind of gaming, but some people like them and they are easy to bake then finish on the grill.
• Plan on 1 to 1-1/2 pounds per person when purchasing spareribs.
• Remove the thin membrane on the backside of the ribs before cooking, if the butcher has not done so. Loosen a corner with a sharp knife, grip tightly and tear from the ribs.
• General baking instructions: bake at 325 degrees F. for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
• If you plan on marinating the ribs in a liquid or spice rub for more than 4 hours, choose a marinade with very little salt. The salt will begin to cure the ribs resulting in a flavor more like ham or bacon.
• When finishing spareribs on the grill, add the sauce during the last few minutes to avoid flare-ups and burns or just after removing from the grill. (See on the Grill above)
• If you wish to use your marinade as a basting or baking sauce, be sure to boil it for about 5 minutes before reusing.
• When oven-baking, place the ribs on a rack inside a baking pan lined with foil so the fat can drip off.
• When the ribs are done, the meat will shrink back from the tips of the bones and the bone should wiggle easily in the meat.
• In general, plan on at least 1-1/2 hours to braise ribs.
• For baking, plan on 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours.