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Slow-Roasted Barbeque Spare Ribs

Mary Anne here. My family LOVES to throw down…and no one more so than my brother Steve. Steve lives on the water in Rhode Island and has just about as many parties as there are weekends in a year! The home he shares with his wife and three daughters has become our official family reunion epicenter. And we’ll use just about any excuse to get together and enjoy tubing off the back of his boat, sipping Margaritas in his hot tub, and then feasting on a family effort of flavorful food. Steve’s wife, Martha, facilitates his efforts by organizing, shopping (often she can be found in a grocery store when most people are in bed!) and endlessly cleaning up after us. She is an amazingly good sport when the Ellicott clan descends upon her home!

Steve calls me frequently with questions about how to prepare, plan, and execute various fiestas he’s hosting. He’s an incredible home-chef, and while I have taught him many techniques in food prep and shared a multitude of my recipes, I am in awe of his mastery over all things grilled. When I need advice in the backyard arena, his phone number is the first thing I reach for.

The following recipe uses my rub and homemade BBQ sauce, but the execution is all Steve’s. He has admitted to me that his incredible ribs are sauced with store-bought BBQ, so clearly the flavor is in the way he patiently slow-roasts the pork before it hits the heat of the grill. If you find BBQ sauce on sale, go for it! Otherwise, try this one as it takes less than 20 minutes of actual prep time and then another 45 minutes to simmer with just the occasional stir.

Slow-Roasted Barbeque Spare Ribs
Serves 6

Ingredients for the Rub (enough for a 5-6 lb. rack of ribs):
5 to 6 lb rack of pork spareribs – $10.85
NOTE: I prefer pork ribs over beef and I never buy baby back ribs (cut from the pork loin), as they are incredibly expensive. The ribs I purchased for this rendering were on sale at my local market for $1.99 a pound.
1 Tablespoon kosher salt – stock
1 Tablespoon cracked black pepper – stock
1 Tablespoon chili powder – stock
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar, firmly packed – stock
1 ½ Tablespoons paprika – stock
1 Tablespoon onion flakes – stock
1 Teaspoon ground ginger – stock

Ingredients for the BBQ Sauce:
Makes 1 quart
2 Tablespoons olive oil – stock
1 large Vidalia onion, finely chopped – $0.79
3 cloves garlic, minced – stock
1 – 6 oz. can tomato paste – $0.69
1 – 28 oz. can tomato puree – $1.79
2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar, firmly packed stock
2 Tablespoons unsulfured molasses – stock
¼ cup orange Juice – $0.69
2 Tablespoons Dijon-style mustard – stock
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce – stock
½ Teaspoon cayenne pepper – stock
2 ½ Tablespoons freshly grated Ginger – $0.59
1 Teaspoon paprika – stock
2 Teaspoons chili powder – stock
1 Teaspoon Liquid Smoke (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $15.40
Total Per Serving: $2.57

Rub Directions:
1. Combine all of the seasonings and grind to a powdery substance using either a mortar and pestle or the back of a round soup spoon.

2. Rub onto both sides of the rack of ribs; really massage well.

3. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. This begins the tenderizing process.

BBQ Sauce Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a heavy Dutch Oven (or a heavy skillet if you don’t have a Dutch Oven). Sauté the onion over medium-high flame for 10 minutes, stirring often.

2. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 5 minutes.

3. Add all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a bubble (it doesn’t really boil as it’s a thick mix). Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes until thick and the tomatoes have lost much of their acidity. Store in the fridge until ready to grill.

Directions for Slow-Cooking the Ribs:
1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

2. Choose a roasting pan large enough to accommodate the rack. If needed, you can cut the rack into more manageable pieces if your pans aren’t large enough to roast it whole.

3. Set a metal rack or invert a muffin tin into the bottom of the roasting pan. Fill with water, about ¼ inch up from the bottom. Place the prepared ribs on top of the metal rack or inverted muffin tin (the water should not be touching the meat.) Cover with foil.

4. Roast in the oven for 4 to 4 ½ hours. This method produces the tenderest spare rib you’ll ever taste! Just be sure not to over cook them or they’ll be falling off the bones before you can get them onto the grill! I start checking them about 3 ½ hours into the cooking time. They’re done when a fork easily lifts the meat from the bone.

5. As soon as the ribs come out of the oven, slather them up on both sides with the BBQ sauce. After 15 minutes, repeat the “slathering” step. You will be amazed how the pork absorbs the sauce! ( **These can be prepared up to this point the day before. If you do that, wrap in foil and store in the fridge. Bring the meat back to room temperature before proceeding.)

6. Preheat the grill. When hot, sear the ribs, about 5 minutes on each side. Be careful not to burn them. Transfer to a cutting board. To carve, cut one side of each rib close to the bone. Repeat down the line and then transfer the pieces to a serving platter.

7. Serve with the BBQ sauce on the side and reams of paper napkins!