How to Cook Ribs in Your Oven Without Special Equipment

Image for article titled How to Cook Ribs in Your Oven Without Special Equipment

photo: Claire Nieder

Ribs are a “project” dish – or they have a reputation for it. Maybe it’s because of her intimidating appearance: a huge frame full of bones. Maybe it’s because they’re part of that culinary tradition known as “barbecue,” which can be overwhelming if you’re used to cooking everything indoors or don’t have a grill. But you can cook ribs in the oven, even if that oven is in a tiny apartment, and they will taste very good.

Oven ribs don’t taste exactly like ribs that have been smoked over coals, but that’s okay. There are ways to mimic that smoky flavor (down to the pink ring), but there’s also nothing wrong with ribs, which are just plain sweet and gooey, with tender, supple meat that pulls cleanly off the bone.

Mimicking ribs smoked on the grill requires liquid smoke and Prague powder, both of which you probably only have one in your pantry. You can read them guide how to use those ingredients, but again, there’s nothing wrong with making tender ribs that taste just like pork and your favorite rub (and BBQ sauce). And it’s easy.

There are three steps to cooking ribs in your oven:

  1. Fry in foil (keeps them tender without drying them out)
  1. Naked roasts (prevents them from getting wet and soggy, encourages rind development)
  2. Roast (caramelizes the sauce)

The first two steps each take two hours; the last one lasts five minutes. But before you get to that, you need to do a little prep work.

How to prepare your ribs for the oven

Image for article titled How to Cook Ribs in Your Oven Without Special Equipment

photo: Claire Nieder

First things first: you’ll need to remove the membrane that runs along the back of the rack unless you want to spend precious mouth minutes chewing on a hard membrane. (Not you.) Too recapthis membrane is easy to spot and even easier to remove (you don’t even need a knife):

If you look at the less meaty side of a rack of ribs, you might notice that it has a little sheen – almost as if a paper-thin gauze was stretched over the meat and bone. That’s because there is such a thing. It’s a membrane (called the peritoneum, yummy!) and unlike collagen and connective tissue, it doesn’t soften when cooked… To remove a rib membrane, all you need is your hands and a paper towel. Turn the grate over, fleshy side down, then, starting at the smaller end of your ribs, use your fingernail to separate the shiny membrane from the row of fleshy bones. Once you’ve peeled off a small piece, grab it with a paper towel, hold the smaller end of your rack with your other hand, and pull.

Once that is done, proceed to seasoning.

How to season your oven ribs

If you don’t partake in the liquid smoke and powdered Prager method, you only need two things to flavor your ribs: a rub and a sauce. Both can be bought at the store, but if you love mixing your little powders and/or liquids together to create a custom rib experience, be my guest – there are tons of good rub and sauce recipes out there.

I used meathead’s for the rub Amazing seasoning for smoked pork and dry brine, because Meathead is a friend and he sent it to me, and it’s really good. For a sauce I used Sweet Baby Ray’s, another fine product.

Shake the rub over the ribs to create an even, opaque layer. If your rub contains salt, skip salting your ribs; If not, season each side of the grate with 1 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt before adding the rub.

If your oven cannot accommodate a full rack of ribs, cut the rack in half. Wrap each section (or the entire grate) in foil, and you’re ready to roast.

How to cook ribs in the oven

Image for article titled How to Cook Ribs in Your Oven Without Special Equipment

photo: Claire Nieder

Preheat your oven to 225℉. Place the foil-wrapped ribs on a sheet pan and roast for two hours. Unwrap the ribs, place them back on the pan (meat side up) and cook for a further 2 hours. To test doneness, grasp the center of the grate with tongs and wiggle it. When the surface tears, exposing about an inch of flesh, they’re done (read more about the rib bend test). here).

Once the meat crackles, it’s time to season it. Brush the bony side with your favorite sauce, then grill for 2-5 minutes until the sauce starts to bubble and caramelize. Turn over and repeat on the other side. There. You’ve just cooked up a shelf of delicious ribs without even setting foot outside.

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