Barbecued Spareribs in the Oven

Crisp, sticky, and tender. And you learn to make barbecue sauce in the bargain.
TIME 2¼ to 4 hours, mostly unattended
MAKES 6 to 8 servings
2 medium racks pork spareribs (about 6 pounds)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
2 cups ketchup
½ cup dry red wine or water
¼ cup wine vinegar or rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Hot sauce, optional

1 Heat the oven to 250°F. Put the ribs in a large rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper over all sides and rub them in a little bit. Put the pan in the oven.

2 Cook the ribs, turning them every 30 minutes or so, until they release most of their fat and start to look meaty and dry, 2 to 3 hours, depending on how fatty they are. You’ll know they’re ready when a fork slides in and out of the meat easily but the meat is not falling off the bones. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the heat up to 400°F.

3 While the ribs are roasting, make the barbecue sauce. Combine the cumin, paprika, ketchup, wine, vinegar, Worcestershire, chili powder, onion, and garlic in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the mixture bubbles gently but steadily. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and the flavors blend, 10 to 20 minutes. Taste and add a little salt, pepper, and hot sauce if you like. Remove the pot from the heat.

4 Spoon most of the fat out of the roasting pan, leaving behind a thin film on the bottom. When the meat is cool enough to handle, cut between the bones to separate the ribs, brush generously on all sides with barbecue sauce, and return the pan to the oven. Cook, turning the ribs every 5 minutes or so, until they become crisp and charred in places, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature with any remaining sauce on the side.

  • Barbecued Baby Back Ribs in the Oven: Follow the recipe, but reduce the cooking time in Step 2 to 1 to 1½ hours.
  • Asian-Style Barbecue Sauce: Keep the ketchup as a base and replace the wine with white wine or sake; use rice vinegar instead of wine vinegar and soy sauce instead of Worcestershire. Instead of chili powder, try Chinese 5-spice seasoning. Keep the onion, garlic, and hot sauce and stir in 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil after you remove the sauce from the heat.

  • Buy trimmed spareribs—sometimes called St. Louis cut—so they lie flat and get super-crisp and are esier to cut.
  • Figure about a pound per person, though less is fine if there’s going to be a lot of other food on the table. Or serve as a party snack; this recipe yields 22 to 26 ribs.
  • Real barbecued ribs are cooked over a low, slow indirect fire and require many hours of attention. This oven technique lets you cook them thoroughly without fussing (you can do this up to 2 days in advance). Then you sauce and brown them at the last minute so they’re tender inside and crisp outside.

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