Friday, July 23, 2010

Taste&Create: Spare Ribs

You may remember that, last month, I participated in a food-blogging "event" called Taste&Create and really enjoyed searching for recipes from my partner blog, My Year on the Grill. Because I had so much fun, I decided to do Taste&Create again this month. And APPARENTLY because I said I wanted to cook something else from My Year on the Grill, they paired me up with him again! Hah! (Actually, I think they do this randomly. I was happy, though, to have an excuse to cook something else he posted.) you remember how last month I said I was having a hard time deciding between two recipes, but then found an ingredient on major sale and that decided for me? Well, yeah, that sorta happened again. So, deja vu...except it's completely different this time. This time I made spare ribs.'s picture heavy, and there's not much of a recipe really (more like instructions), so this post will be mostly pictures that hopefully sort of tell you how to make spare ribs. And you should, because they're delicious and actually quite easy. And if you want BETTER instructions, check out Dave's post. He actually knows what he's doing.

Spare ribs were on sale for $1.99/lb. There was no way I was not going for that. This was a pretty small rack, around 10 dollars for the whole thing--there were some that were almost 30!

The first step, once you get the package open (which was actually sort of difficult), is to remove the membrane. I had no idea that ribs even had membranes, nevermind that I would have to remove one, but hey--I did. But, do you see that big slice in the middle of the rack? I didn't do that. They came with that. And it made the membrane-removal WAY more difficult than it had to be. Anyway, this step is super important (the membrane is tough and tastes gross and prevents your rubs from getting in), so do it right.

If you read Dave's post, you'll notice how he talks about "St Louis Style" and "Removing the Flap Meat." This picture here documents how I failed at that--my knife just wouldn't cut through the bones that were attached to the breast bone. And...

One random rib was really really long. I couldn't cut that off, either. I guess these weren't St Louis style at all, but I did get a good amount of flap meat cut off. (I don't know what the remedy for randomly long bones is except maybe a knife that cuts through bones.)

This was the other weird thing, except that I'm not actually sure it's weird at all. Some of the meat was just sorta hanging there and once I removed the membrane had big holes in it. Regardless of whether it's supposed to be there, it was pretty tasty, so I'd say leave this on. And, at this point, start removing all the unnecessary-looking pieces of fat. I ended up with a little bigger than a golf ball sized ball of fat. I took a picture but it grossed me out too much to post it, and I'd apologize, but it was gross.

Time for rubs! Rubs are important. You have a wet rub (the honey mustard) and a dry rub (the barbecue seasoning). You could use whatever you want, depending on what flavor you want your ribs to be--Dave explains more about different rubs and flavors in his post. For now, a spicy honey mustard and barbecue seasoning worked great, so I highly recommend them.

Apply your wet rub! I used about half the jar of honey mustard to cover these. And remember, it's a rub, not a sauce, so pretend you're putting sunscreen on or something and actually rub it in. Obviously it doesn't all rub in (and hey, I could be completely wrong about this rubbing thing) but I think that gets the flavor into the meat a little bit more. And yes, wet rub goes first.

Now apply your dry rub! This is pretty much the same principle. Sprinkle generously, rub until covered completely. Again, I used half the container here. I used the same two rubs on the flap meat that I'd cut off, too--if you're adventurous, you could try with different things, but I was more concerned with "oh no it's later than I realized get this in the oven" than "have some cool leftovers." (These were pretty cool anyway.)

Now it's time to bake them! Perhaps you're confused--"bake ribs? why would I do that?" Well, it's either bake them or smoke them, and I don't have a smoker. So I baked them. You can bake them for a fairly short time at a high temperature, but a low temperature for a long time will give you super tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs like you're dreaming of. Dave's advice was 225 degrees for about 6 hours, and don't open the oven door no matter how tempted you are. My oven is kind of a jerk and doesn't really do anything below 250 (it has the setting, but I think it turns off) so they were done after about 5 hours. A meat thermometer should read 170 degrees, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a good place to put a standard meat thermometer in these. When they finish, take them out, baste them with barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's Hickory and Brown Sugar) and bake them for another 20 or so minutes. They'll be less messy to eat and the barbecue sauce will be much nicer after some time in the oven. (OH! The other thing is to coil them up and skewer them and stand them up in a pie plate for better air flow while baking. It's a good idea!)

Mine sort of broke when uncoiled, but after hours of waiting, I felt victorious to take them out of the oven and prepare to serve them. This rack served 3 people with the flap meat as leftovers, and we were all very full.

Four ribs for me! These were the meatiest ribs I'd ever eaten--whenever I've gotten them at a restaurant, I've been fully capable of eating a whole rack (maybe only a half rack? I don't remember) but this was PLENTY of food. Dave says that if you're not used to leftovers from ribs, you're probably eating baby back ribs and not spare ribs. This is possible. Dave also says to cut between each rib before serving to be nice to the people who are eating, but when I tried to do that the meat sort of dissolved. Plus, part of the whole ribs experience is to cut them apart and wrestle with them, right?

So, there is my spare rib adventure! Remember that they take a long time to cook, and give yourself about an hour to prepare them before putting them in the oven (it probably won't take that long, but I'm slow), so if you want to eat at 7, you want to start these around noon or 1. If you eat at 5, you'll have to start around 10. Give yourself lots of time.

And, really, if you want to make them, take a look at Dave's post, because I'm pretty sure he's an expert on this and I'm just figuring out how it works. I'll be looking for an excuse to make them again (such as "oh hey they're on sale again!") and maybe play with some different rubs and perhaps get the St Louis Style right next time.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!