Ribs, done right, are a beautiful thing to behold: rich, moist, perfectly tender meat pulled from the bone as you eat; deeply flavored smokey salty charred crust; and all the primal pleasure of eating juicy, messy, meaty food with your hands. Barbecue is a topic of passionate opinions and deep traditions. My approach blends what I consider the best of all worlds for a foolproof delicious rib that works for both smoker and oven applications. With a long weekend ahead and the first warm days of spring, I can't think of a better time for Slow Roasted Pork Ribs! While my recipe gives two days for the dry rub to penetrate and salt the meat, you can also compress this step and have your ribs ready the same day for dinner.
Yield: 6 pounds ribs, serves 6-8
- 6 pounds pork ribs (spare ribs ideally, but any cut will do in a pinch)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin
- 1/2 tablespoon chipotle powder (can substitute ancho)
- 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- Take out your ribs, rinse quickly under cold water, and pat dry with a paper towel. If the ribs came in one large rack, cut into several smaller slabs that can fit into your oven or smoker.
- In a small bowl, mix together the dry rub ingredients (brown sugar, paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, chili powder, cumin, chipotle powder, and thyme).
- Pour the dry rub over the ribs and rub into all surfaces and sides of the meat. It will be a pretty thick coating (see picture).
- Put the ribs into zip-top bags (or vacuum seal into bags) and put in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. This allows the flavors to meld together and deeply penetrate the meat. The salt in particular works its way deep into the meat -- leading to juicy, well flavored ribs. If you don't have time (or fridge space) you can make same day ribs, by just allowing the dry rub to sit for an hour on the meat before proceeding to the next step. Same day ribs are still delicious, just not quite as flavorful and moist.
- You are ready to slow-roast! If you have a smoker, fire it up to about 195 degrees. I like to smoke very gently with pecan wood (using just a handful at the beginning and end of cooking). Place the meat bone-side down on the smoker racks far enough apart to allow for good air circulation. Fill the water/drip pan with the apple cider vinegar. Roast at 195 for 10 hours. If using an oven, use roasting pans to reduce the mess. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (often the lowest semi-reliable setting for home ovens). Add the apple cider vinegar to the bottom of the roasting pan, along with 3-4 drops of liquid smoke. Liquid smoke varies greatly in concentration and quality between brands. We use Lazy Kettle's Hickory. The liquid smoke is not necessary, but it goes along way to adding authentic smokey taste. For oven cooking, also roast for 10 hours. In either oven or smoker methods, no flipping, turning, or basting is required.
- Once 10 hours of slow roasting has elapsed, take out your meat and allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes. This is critical to allow the meat to finish cooking and the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
- While your meat is resting, clean and preheat your grill on high. Quickly sear each side of the ribs for about 2-3 minutes on each side. You are looking for nice deep color and char-lines to develop. This step is optional (you can just eat the ribs after resting), but it contributes to a great chewy smokey crust .
- Remove the ribs from the grill and cut between each rib to make them easier to eat. Serve immediately with your favorite barbecue sauce...and lots and lots of napkins!