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1-1/2 lbs pork spareribs and no smoker -- ideas?

I received one slab of "pork spare ribs" from my CSA pork share. I'm eager to cook them, but I don't have a smoker. I tried baking ribs in the past -- Oprah's supposed favorite ribs (baked -- w/ peppers and onions?!)-- were, in my opinion, a disaster taste and texture-wise. I once incinerated baby backs on the grill.

I need guidance on how to make the most of what should be good quality tasty meat (the loin and sausage was terrific). I love smoked ribs, like Asian style preparations.

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  1. If you go to the America's Test Kitchen website you should be able to find a recipe for oven-smoked ribs which uses tea leaves to provide the smoke.

    1. Though a couple of people had dryness issues with this recipe, I have had no problem with them and have converted people who were indifferent to ribs to ribs lovers.


      1. It's not the traditional BBQ- or Chinese-type preparation for ribs, but I just adore Marcella Hazan's Pan-Roasted Spareribs with Sage and White Wine. They're positively addictive.


        1. I'd smoke them on the grill. Use a smoker box made for a grill (or aluminum foil) to hold Hickory chips. Keep the temp down, use indirect heat and keep adding wood chips as needed.

          I don't have a smoker, but use this method once a year or so and it's always provided tasty and excellent meats. It's a bit more work though.

          1. I've had people tell me my ribs are the best they have had. Here is my technique:

            Carefully remove the membrane on the back side of the ribs. Trim the ribs if needed. Rub your favorite spice rub on both sides of the ribs. Wrap loosely in foil and refridgerate for up to two days. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet at 250 degrees for two hours or slightly more. When you remove the ribs from the oven, save the pan juices and the juices trapped in the foil. Its a significant quanity. Reduce the pan juices about 90% in a small pot on the stove. Add a modest amount of vinegar based bbq sauce so you have a concentrated meat flavor enlivened by a spicy, tangy vinegar sauce. You can put the ribs back in the refridgerator until you are ready to grill them. I grill them on a gas grill with indirect heat for about 20 minutes per side until you have a beautiful brown crust on both sides. Then I cut them up and spoon the reduced sauce over them.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Rhee

              Yep, this is a great way to do babyback ribs; dry rub & marinate for a day or 2; slow cook in oven, covered at a low temp and then finish on the grill. OP did not say that the ribs they have right now are babybacks or not.

              1. re: Rhee

                I have the ribs marinating in a dry spicy rub to cook tomorrow. Though they're labeled "spare ribs" they look to be baby backs -- a full rack weighing 1-1/2 lbs.

                I'll bake them covered in alumnimum foil. I was wondering if they'll dry out, but I guess wrapped -- loosely? -- in foil should do the trick.
                Since it's too cold here to use my grill, can I finish cooking uncovered in the oven? High heat or broiler? Got a recipe/name brand for vinegar-based bbq sauce?
                thanks much.

              2. i make pork spareribs from an old bon appetite recipe... i believe you can find it at epicurious. It is a soy ginger ribs.... in which you brown the ribs first, then remove, add garlic and ginger, add soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, (not quite sure what else) and then let them cook on the stove for 45 mins. They get amazingly sticky and tender. serve with white rice and snow peas. I tend to use more garlic and ginger than they ask for, and double the liquids since hubby likes sauce, which I also use a little cornstarch and water to thicken it up.

                1. For asian-style ribs, marinate in a mixture of about 2T hoisin sauce, 4T ketchup, 4T sugar, and 1T soy sauce. (Adjust these to your taste - I also like to add about a tablespoon of minced garlic, too.) Allow to marinate at least six hours (preferably overnight) in the refrigerator, turning periodically to ensure even marinating. Arrange in a single layer on a rack in your oven at 275-300F. After about 2 hours, check for doneness.

                  If you want the deep red color, you'll need to add some potassium nitrate (I think...could be potassium nitrite!) to the marinade, too. I don't use it, but when my mom needs some, she goes to a local Chinese market and asks for the 'dynamite' in Chinese. Somehow, they know what she wants.

                  1. I love Paula Wolfert's rib recipe from her Cooking of South West France book. It's ribs marinated in herbs (no tomato sauce, no vinegar, no sugar, no soy sauce), just herbs, garlic and olive oil. They're absolutely wonderful.

                    She has a more complicated technique for a part of the recipe I've never made (something with ham fat dripping into a pan on the grill) but I'd love to hear if anybody's tried it.

                    I'll post the recipe if anybody's interested. These have become my favorite spareribs.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: oakjoan

                      Oakjoan, yes, can you please paraphrase the recipe and tell us whether the recipe is for babyback or spareribs? And, can someone please advise: I'm under the impression that babyback ribs are NOT the same as spareribs--I mean, just looking at them you can see that spareribs by and large have WAY more meat on them, etc. Yet, I see folks use the words interchangeably. My question is can they be cooked the same way?

                      1. re: Val

                        Babyback and Spare ribs are most definitely not the same. With babybacks you can get away with cooking it over direct heat for a short amount of time. You need to low heat and long amounts of time.

                    2. I've always had raves for my version of Ken Hom's spareribs which is similar to ricepad's. Marinating the ribs overnight in a mixture of hoisin, Chinese wine, chili sauce, ginger and garlic, and then roasting them in the oven at low heat (about 250 degrees) for 2 1/2 hours.

                      1. key to moist ribs is cooking them covered slowly in lower temp, as almost everyone suggests. best way to finish them off after the slow cook is glaze with honey and to raise the temp to about 375 or 400 and roast uncovered for about 20 mins. you get beautiful, glistening, caramelized moist fall- off-the-bone ribs.

                        1. If you have a wok you can turn that into a smoker. Just remember to seal the lid where the wok meets with a damp cloth or towel.