Tis the season. Grills are being replaced with garland and the hammock is being traded in for the overstuffed chair in front of the fireplace. However, that does not mean you still can’t enjoy the spoils of the grilling season, indoors. During the cold winter months you can still savor finger-licking BBQ ribs without dashing through the snow to your favorite smoker. You can make great BBQ ribs in the oven.
Making ribs in your oven can quickly lead to disaster for many home cooks. Ribs by nature are tough pieces of meat. It is only through a long, slow, cooking process that they begin to melt into that tender summer treat we crave to slather with succulent sauces. Inexperienced home cooks will find that the ribs have come up to a safe serving temperature and take them out of the oven well before they are actually done. Unlike many pieces of meat, just because the ribs have come to the proper temperature does not actually mean they are done cooking. Instead, they need to continue to cook so the collagen (connective tissue) breaks down, rendering a much more tender piece of meat.
There is a household phrase that continues to be a misnomer of ideal BBQ ribs: “Fall of the bone.” You do not want “Fall of the bone” ribs. These have been overcooked – more reminiscent of a lazy crock-pot cook than a seasoned pit-master. Properly cooked rib meat should threaten to crack when held up with tongs, and the bones should be able to be pulled away fairly cleanly with a firm twist. However, the meat should not come separated from the bone without assistance and should not lend itself to be described as “falling off the bone.” A properly cooked rib should be soft and tender but yet still have a slight chew to the meat, much like a very tender steak.
When cooking ribs outdoors I adhere to strict traditionalism. I use a smoker and I do not take shortcuts in their preparation. I use a very common slow and slow ‘3-2-1 rib recipe’, figuring if it is good enough for competition pit-masters, it is the method I should get acquainted with. However when I make BBQ ribs indoors using my oven I am more willing to try alternative methods that still yield great results.
My favorite indoor rib recipe is a simple two step process: First bake the ribs till tender, then broil the sauce till it caramelizes.
You will need:
1 slab Baby Back Ribs
Your Favorite BBQ Sauce (I LOVE Jimmy J’s Razorback Rib Sauce – Made right here in Appleton, WI)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
To begin making the best BBQ ribs in your oven start by removing the membrane from under the ribs. I typically use a spoon to slide between the membrane and a bone to loosen it up, then I use a napkin for grip and pull it off the slab in one strip.
Once this is done the meat can be seasoned with your favorite dry rub or simply some salt.
Next wrap the ribs in foil, place on a baking sheet and set in the oven for two hours.
After two hours, unwrap ribs and slather generously with BBQ. Turn on the broiler and set BBQ ribs underneath, continuing to lacquer with additional sauce every few minutes until a hot sticky bark is formed. 30-60 minutes.
BBQ sauce is high in sugar so carefully watch the ribs under the broiler as they can burn easily. They should never be left under the broiler for more than a few minutes at a time without adding additional sauce or you will be awoken to your mistake by smoke alarms.
Once lacquered to your liking, let the ribs rest for 15 minutes prior to serving.