Chris Cooks

Tender Barbecued Ribs, Made in the Oven

May 22, 2013

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These are not the world’s greatest ribs. Is that a strange way to start? Let me explain. I’m convinced that the best way to cook ribs is for about 3 hours at 225 in a smoker (depending on the type of rib, with a proper rub and stuff). Do I own a smoker? You bet I do. I love it. Love. It. Can’t say enough how much I love cooking in my smoker. Do you have a smoker? Chances are, probably not. Also, cleaning my smoker is a huge pain that I’m not usually willing to go through unless we have a crowd coming over. It’s for this reason I created this recipe – it doesn’t need a smoker. And, bonus, it’s still incredible. So, even though they may not be the world’s greatest ribs, they just might be the world’s greatest ribs cooked in an oven. Maybe? Here’s what you need:

Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil
Pork Ribs
1 Onion for each rack of ribs you’re cooking (1/2 onion if doing baby back ribs)
2 Apples for each rack of ribs
Garlic powder
Ancho Chili Powder (I cook with this a lot)
Black Pepper
This Barbecue Sauce

My favorite rib is the St. Louis style. Unfortunately my grocer ran out so I went with a slab of spare ribs (my second favorite). St. Louis are just spare ribs that have had the extra meat trimmed off and the ribs cut evenly. You could also do baby backs, though you would drop the cooking temp about 15 degrees and cut the cooking time by maybe 45 minutes (less meat, doesn’t need as much time). But whatever type of rib you choose, one thing I always suggest is to remove the silver skin on the bony side of the ribs. Some people leave it on, but I find it terribly unappealing. If you try to pull them off with your bare hands, you’ll have a heck-uv-a time, as those things are super slimy. The best way to do it is to grab the silver skin with a paper towel and just pull at it until it comes off. If you miss little tiny pieces don’t stress out about it – just do the best you can. Like so:

Once you have the silver skin off, set to work on making your packets. Think of it as a giant tin foil dinner (which, now that I think about it, this would make awesome camping food). Assemble like so:

Two layers of tin foil on the bottom, and make them long enough to extend 4-6 inches on either side of the ribs when the ribs are laid on top of them. If using regular aluminum foil instead of heavy duty, maybe do 3 layers. The extra layer(s) will protect from your oven rack ripping the tin foil and spilling liquid all over the place. Cut up an entire onion and spread it around on the bottom. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil (low heat cooking method, so it’s ok), place the ribs on top of the onion, sprinkle with your seasonings (only put a tiny bit of cinnamon –we don’t want people to say, “Hey that’s cinnamon in there!” We want them to say, “I know that flavor…what is that?”–, then place the cut up apples on top of the ribs. You do it this way because: A- being surrounded with onion and apple will infuse the meat with flavor, and B- if there’s any burning going on, the onion and apple will take the brunt of it and protect your meat. Place one more layer of tin foil on top of it all, and start folding up the corners, crimping and creating a tight seal.

And in the oven it goes, 315 degrees for 3.5 hours (2.5 or so with baby backs).

I made two racks. What? We had company. I’m serious, we had company.

After 3.5 hours, take the ribs out and carefully open the packet by unfolding the edges and lifting the top off. Watch out for the steam – it’ll getcha. Using a pair of tongs, remove the apple slices from the top of the ribs, and carefully transfer the ribs onto a baking sheet, meaty side down. Then, using the tongs, remove the onion pieces. Just discard the apples, onions and tin foil packet. They’ve served their purpose. Now I like my ribs sauced, and unlike my chicken wings, I like to cook my sauce a little after I put it on the ribs. My preference is to do this on the grill and get a nice char, but the broiler in the oven does a great job too, and that’s how I did it this time. So put some sauce on the bony side, then put it under your broiler for a few minutes until it starts to caramelize. Then flip the ribs over, sauce the meaty side and stick it under the broiler, again until it starts to caramelize. Careful not to let the sugars burn too much – it’ll taste bitter.

Remove from the oven, cut them up, pour some more sauce on if you like, and get eatin’!

Remember, NOBODY stays clean eating ribs – they’re like, the great equalizer. So dig in and embrace the fact that, with these ribs, the biggest mess you’ll need to clean up is the one on your face.

PS. – For you healthier folk, worry not. I have some awesome barbecue chicken lettuce wraps that I’ll share on Friday. Cheers.

What do you think?

  1. Cari says:

    I know it’s not ideal but can you use sweet baby Ray’s instead of the homemade sauce?

  2. Hi Julia – I made this recipe while camping over memorial day weekend and it was fabulous! It cooked perfectly over our campfire. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Julia needs to rent you out.

  4. Oh yum! These look amazing! I love ribs! Smoked, grilled, cooked in the oven, I love it all!

  5. Rebecca says:

    I think there should be a forward link at the end of this post “e-mail recipe to husband >>” :)

  6. Get in my belly! Looks delish and I love the quick clean up.

  7. Angel says:

    This is how my husband cooks his ribs (minus the onions and apples – I am going to have to show him your recipe :)) they are so delicious and tender.
    Also, I hate handling raw meat but I love taking the silver skin off of ribs. I find it so satisfying – it is my only contribution in the kitchen when he makes ribs. haha.

  8. Rebecca W. says:

    Yum! We do something similar with pork country style ribs. They are so meaty and thick, already cut.

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