Easy At-Home Ribs

Easy At-Home Ribs

Labor Day will be here soon and many of you will be having people over to grill out and celebrate.  Now if you live in Georgia like me there is no shortage of smokers.  Everyone here has that one friend with a custom pull-behind smoker/grill trailer, just waiting to show it off.  They pull up at 8am, take an hour to get the heat just right and throw 10 racks of ribs on.  Then sit back for the next 5 hours sipping on a few beers while they cook, basting occasionally.  Sounds relaxing, but what if you don’t have that kind of time?  Who wants to settle for the same old burgers and dogs?

This recipe is an easy way to make pretty high quality ribs at home in 2-3 hours.  They take about 15 minutes to get in the oven and you don’t have to tend a grill all day. Let’s get started!

THE PROCESS

Meat that can be cooked to temperature like sirloin or filet mignon is generally chosen for its ‘marbling’, or the fat that is in the meat.  As it cooks, even for a short period of time the fat melts and the steak becomes tender. But other meats like bottom round or shank are tough and loaded with collagen.  They can’t be cooked to temperature. Ribs, like these other tough meats, have to cook for a long time in a moist environment.  The process breaks down the collagen and the meat starts to fall apart becoming very tender.  This is called braising.  It’s the same thing your mom used to do when she made pot roast in a crock pot.  However, in this case we will be skipping the crock pot and cooking on a pan in the oven covered in foil.

THE RIBS

For this recipe I chose a basic rib.  It has 12 full ribs plus the fatty deckle on the back.  It will give you a variety of rib types and this time of year you can buy them at any grocery store in a 2 pack.  But if you like a St. Louis or baby back better, get what you like.  In the end, no matter what you choose, they will be tender and falling off the bone.

THE RUB

The rub is important.  It will be the flavoring throughout the cooking process and give you a base to build on later with a BBQ sauce. I won’t get into it too deeply here, but you can buy all kinds of rib rubs at the store in the spice section.  Some people like to go with just a straight salt and pepper or even a brine.  Here is what I use:

1 cup                     Brown Sugar

1 cup                     Blackened Seasoning (Paul Prudhomme or other)

½ cup                    Chili Powder

½ cup                    Ground Cumin

¼ cup                    Fine Garlic Powder

¼ cup                    Paprika (smoked or other)

1 tsp                      Ground Black Pepper

¼ tsp                     Ground Cinnamon

¼ tsp                     Liquid Smoke (optional)

Mix all of these ingredients together in a bowl or container.  Unused portion can be saved for later.

THE COOKING

So you have your ribs, you have your rub and you have a plan. Let’s get it done!

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350°F
  2. Unpack and rinse off the ribs with water. Pat them dry and lay them on a baking pan.
  3. Pour the rib rub on liberally and spread it out evenly, top and bottom, shaking off any excess. Try not to touch the seasoning directly, you don’t want to contaminate the spice mix if you are going to save the extra for later. (Tip:  Rub one rack and then shake off the excess seasoning onto the next one)
  4. Once the ribs are nicely coated and on the pan meat side up, add enough water to cover the bottom about ¼ inch deep.
  5. Wrap the pan with aluminum foil, making sure to tightly seal the edges. The better you seal in the moisture the better the ribs will turn out.  If your pan is too wide for a single piece of foil, here’s a trick: lay the foil pieces on top of each other and fold one edge over twice. (about ½ inch each time) When you open them, they should be almost double the size.
  6. Place the pan in the oven and bake at 350°F for 2 hours, checking at the 1 hour mark to make sure there is still water.
  7. After 2 hours check the ribs for tenderness. Some people like their ribs with some bite left in them, others like the meat falling off the bone.  If it’s not tender enough for you re-wrap it and throw it back in for 20 minutes.  Do this until it gets to your desired texture. *Keep in mind if you are planning on grilling & saucing them later, you don’t want them too soft.
  8. When they are done, open the foil and let them cool. It’s easier to cut them after about 30 minutes.

THE SERVING

Well that’s it! You made the ribs…now what?  In my house we usually serve half for dinner and immediately bag up the rest with BBQ and freeze them.  I know, I know, its blasphemy but they actually survive the freezing pretty well and they are quick tasty meal for nights when you just don’t have the time to make a full dinner.  The best thing about this recipe is that it allows you the flexibility of cooking when you have the time and heating them up a day or 2 later.

You can throw them on the grill to heat them up if you like.  Or just baste them with your favorite BBQ sauce and broil them in the oven.  No matter how you finish them, you family will love them!

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