Summer time is a great time to enjoy foods that are not only tasty but fun to eat. Ice cream, corn on the cob, hots dogs, potato salad, strawberry shortcake, and of course all the wonderful grilled foods we love — chicken, steaks, kabobs… and BBQ Spareribs!
BBQ Spareribs are one of those foods that I only make in the summer. Maybe because the local market brings the price down at that time, or maybe because it’s more fun to eat with your hands when your sitting at a picnic table. Whatever the reason, I definitely like some ribs during those dog days.
With the plentiful BBQ restaurants around town, I do get to enjoy some Spareribs more often that just in the summer — but nothing compares to the Spareribs that come off my own backyard grill. I think my Spareribs are the best (of course I think everything I cook is the best).
If you’re going to make Spareribs at home you have to start with the right cut of pork. When I make Spareribs at home I like to start out with a full slab of spareribs. This means the whole bottom portion of ribs that has not been trimmed or cut into what’s known as “St. Louis style” ribs. I choose the whole slab for two reasons, first it’s the most economical (you can find packages of whole uncut ribs for a great price at many stores) and second I believe the flavor is better when you start with the whole slab because you get all the fat and bones which is where the flavor lives. Personally I also don’t bother with the more expensive “baby back” ribs — and although I do like what’s known as “country style” ribs, for barbecuing nothing beats the good ole Spareribs.
Here’s a quick rib pictorial I found on the internet:
1. Full slab spareribs (my preference)
2. St. Louis Style spareribs
3. Baby Back ribs
4. Country Style ribs
Okay, now that you get the picture (pun intended) the next important step in making great Spareribs is the seasoning or “rub.” You can try the different ones you find in the grocery stores or you can do a bunch of research online for the “prize winning” rubs — but what I find is most people have the ingredients for a great rib rub in their spice pantry and you can whip it up in no time at home.
Dan’s Basic Pork & Rib Rub
2 TBSP Paprika (regular)
1 TBSP Salt
1 TBSP Black Pepper
1 TBSP Chili Powder
2 tsp Smoked Paprika
2 tsp Ground Cumin
2 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/4 cup Brown Sugar (optional)
1. In a small mixing bowl whisk together all ingredients until fully combined. Rub into all sides of meat before cooking. I make my rub sugar free but if you like a sweet rub then add the brown sugar. Store extra rub in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to one month. Makes about 1/2 cup rub enough for one full slab; double or triple the recipe if making more ribs.
Now that you’ve picked out your ribs and made your “rub” you’re ready to get cooking. Here is my favorite way to prepare fall-off-the-bone tender Spareribs that will be the highlight of your next cookout. This method uses the oven to get that “low ‘n’ slow” tenderness that is usually found in smokehouse barbecue. Using the oven also makes it so you spend less time standing over the grill.
Dan’s BBQ Spareribs
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 2 1/2 hours in oven, 30 minutes on grill
1 full slab Pork Spareribs (about 6 pounds)
1 batch Rib Rub (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup Prepared BBQ Sauce + 1 cup Water
1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F and set rack in center.
2. Remove ribs from packaging, rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
3. Turn ribs bone side up and remove the membrane covering the bones: Use a sharp knife to lift a corner of the membrane and then using a paper towel, grip the membrane and firmly and evenly pull it off. If it doesn’t come off in one sheet then do the process again with the rest.
4. On the counter lay out a double thickness of aluminum foil big enough to completely envelope the ribs – topped this with a double thickness of parchment paper.
5. Place the ribs meaty side up on foil/parchment and generously coat with rib rub. Turn over and coat the bone side.
6. Starting with the parchment paper, fold the paper over the ribs to completely seal them in. Then bring the foil up over the paper and completely seal the package by crimping the seams of foil.
7. On a rimmed baking sheet, lay the foil wrapped ribs seam side (bone side) down and bake in the preheated oven for 2 1/2 hours. (Ribs should be cooked to at least 185 degrees F internally.)
8. Remove pan from oven and carefully open the foil/paper packet (their may be a lot of juice so be careful). Allow the ribs to rest at least 30 minutes or refrigerate over night.
9. Heat an outdoor grill to medium-high.
10. Mix 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce with 1 cup water in a small bowl.
11. Cut the cooled (or refrigerated) ribs into 4 sections. Grill the ribs, turning frequently and using a brush baste the ribs with sauce after each turn. Cook until ribs are glazed and nicely browned and heated through.
12. Serve the BBQ Ribs as is or with additional sauce.
So there you have it, my favorite summer time BBQ Spareribs. If you haven’t attempted spareribs at home — give this method a try and I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the results. Tender, meaty, and so delicious. Perfect for those Holiday cookouts, family picnics, graduation parties, or any other summer time get together.
Until next time remember, “The Sauce Makes the Difference!”