My Cheaten Ribs

Many of us love the combined aromas of hardwood smoke and rendering pork fat.  Connecting those wonderful smells with the mouth-feel & taste of cooked-tender rib meat routinely creates a very enjoyable eating experience.  And, don’t forget about that coveted smoke-ring; plus those clean pulling bones.  But alas, one has to pay steep a price to reach that point conventionally.  The price includes: an expensive outdoor cooking unit, some type of hardwood cooking fuel, spice rubs that tend to drip away along with meat cooking purge, a remote read thermometer, many other “needed” barbecue cooking gadgets, the trial & error acquired skill of regulating a smoke-cooking unit’s operating temperature,  aluminum foil to wrap ribs with after they are deemed to have taken on enough smoke and a lot of  time to babysit the several hours long cook.  On the upside, conventionally barbecue cooking pork spareribs does allow for spending a good bit of time under the old shade tree; for peaefully drinking beer.    

But, what if we could reasonably well simulate a desirable barbecued spareribs eating experience using only a residential kitchen oven?  Smoke in the house, a smoke-ring, spice rub bark, all 3 are seemly impossible to duplicate indoors.  Yet, with some basic meat processing knowledge one can cost and time effectively produce good smoked spareribs right in the kitchen.      

Start by using a meat hook, or something similar to it, to get underneath the membrane that lines the body cavity of the rib region.  Once the hook is worked under the membrane, pull it sideways until the membrane rips.  At that point grab the loose membrane end with a paper towel, to get a good grip, then pull it back the other direction.  Repeat that process; then in a few minutes the entire membrane will be removed. 

Here, A teaspoon of curing powder #1 was added to the roaster bottom.  Next a little water was added top dissolve the cure in.  The mixture was then splashed on both sides of the spareribs.  That practice guarantees a nice faux smoke-ring will form during cooking.  At that point, the rest of the cure containing water was discarded.  

One teaspoon of concentrated liquid smoke was put in the bottom of the roasting pan and a bottom full of water was added to it.  Liquid smoke is a by-product of hardwood charcoal production; where generated natural smoke is drawn through water then condensed. 

A metal cooking rack is used to keep the ribs up out of the smoke water; so they steam-cook and don’t water cook. 

Salt & pepper was sprinkled on both side of the cure splashed ribs, then the ribs  were placed bone side down on the cooking rack.

The roaster lid was put in place and then the ribs went into a 220F oven for 3 hours. 

This is what the ribs looked like after steam cooking was completed.  Tilt the roaster lid away from you when removing the lid so you don’t get steam bunt.   

 Immediately after steam cooking was completed the roaster lid was removed and the ribs spent 10 minutes under the oven broiler.  Spareribs are optimally done when the meat draws back the rib bones about one half of an inch. 

This is the entire rack of ribs sliced between each rib.  They had a good smoke smell, texture and taste. 

Written by George Wolfer

George Wolfer

Been associated with the meat industry pretty much since starting at a Vocational High school Meat Processing program in 1974. Like to learn and teach interesting and worthwhile livestock production, meat processing and marketing practices.

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