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Slow-Cooked Memphis Ribs

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Serves 4-6 as a main course or 6-12 as an appetizer.

Yields 1/2 cup spice rub and 2 cups sauce

  • To learn more, read:
    Oven-Roasted Ribs
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 56

Too cold to grill outside? Slow roasting in the oven yields a rib that's just as tender and succulent. Rub the ribs with a zesty spice blend, and you'll swear they came from a backyard BBQ pit.

For the ribs
  • 2 full (13-rib) racks of St. Louis-cut pork spareribs (about 3 lb. each)
  • Kosher salt
For the Memphis spice rub
  • 2-1/2 Tbs. hot chili powder
  • 2 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1/2 Tbs. paprika
  • 1/2 Tbs. dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
Tip:
In a small bowl, stir together all the ingredients for the spice rub.
For the barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 can (14 ounces) tomato purée
  • 2 Tbs. dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Tabasco sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. hot chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F. Sprinkle and press 1/4 cup of the rub on both sides of each rib rack. Put the racks, meaty side up, on a broiling pan or a wire roasting rack set over a baking sheet. Lightly season the ribs with salt and put them in the oven. After the first hour,  rotate the pan every 30 minutes (Note: If you use two baking sheets, switch their position in the oven, too). The ribs will sizzle gently as they cook, and they'll become tender after about 2 hours in the oven.

To test for doneness, pick up the center of the ribs with tongs; the ends of the ribs should flop downward (this means the fat and cartilage have broken down), and a skewer inserted between the ribs should meet little resistance. If the meat between the ribs is still tough, keep cooking, checking every 15 minutes and rotating the pan.

To make the sauce, heat the oil and add the onion to a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Season lightly with salt and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato purée, brown sugar, tomato paste, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, mustard, chili powder, paprika, and cayenne and stir well. Turn down the heat to low and let the sauce simmer until it thickens slightly, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, season to taste with salt, and let cool to room temperature. The sauce will keep for about a week in the refrigerator.  

Remove the rib racks from the oven, put them on a cutting board meaty side down (so they're easier to slice), and slice them into individual ribs. Arrange the ribs on a platter and serve with the sauce on the side.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : per rib, based on 26 ribs; Calories (kcal): 230; Fat (g): fat g 17; Fat Calories (kcal): 150; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 6; Protein (g): protein g 14; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 4; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 360; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 60; Fiber (g): fiber g 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Not being able to grill (apartment living or bad winters) is no obstacle to excellent flavor. This is my family's favorite rib recipe (summer or winter). The flavor is amazing. (I can't image why anyone would find this recipe 1 star--unless s/he's maybe vegetarian).

Great recipe. Really great. A 1 star review of this recipe is unbelievable. Do yourself a favor and try it. You will save it in your recipe place.

Sauce smells and taste like the sweat off a swines *ss ( yes I know what that taste like). The rub is okay but not going to win anybody over. Nothing worse than spending time and money for an epic fail. Cheers

This is the method my grandmother used when I was a kid. Indeed alomst everyone seemed to use the.,hb b After cooking in the oven she finished the ribs on the grill over a wood fueled fire (alt. add wood chips). Not only dis you end with a perfect smokey glaze way better than using a smoked flavored sauce from the store. Also the grill left the outside of the rib a bit firm (not dry) while the inside was still tender and juice.

This is the method my grandmother used when I was a kid. Indeed alomst everyone seemed to use the.,hb b After cooking in the oven she finished the ribs on the grill over a wood fueled fire (alt. add wood chips). Not only dis you end with a perfect smokey glaze way better than using a smoked flavored sauce from the store. Also the grill left the outside of the rib a bit firm (not dry) while the inside was still tender and juice.

I messed up the sauce but the cooking method is excellent and easy to follow. They really are fall of the bone tender ribs.

I have made ribs using this recipe several times, even in the summer when the grill is hot! Love the rub and the cooking method makes the most tender delicious ribs ever! The slow roast method is cooking therapy at its finest. Roast the ribs, have a little wine...I am making again this weekend for the Super Bowl!

Great ribs! Easy to put together and very forgiving re the cooking time. I made the Memphis "style" bbq sauce from a separate fc issue and brushed some on the ribs just prior to serving. Delish! Who needs a barbeque!

This is an "EXCELLENT" rib recipe! Its my go to for last minute dinner guest on Saturday. Add a side of potato salad and veggie and you've got it made. Everybody wants the recipe...but be warned there are no leftovers:-)

Question: Why does the recipe not give any instructions for making the sauce? Even if it's just "put all ingredients together, mix", it usually says that. Should I cook down the onions in the oil? Cook down the entire sauce? Not quite sure.

I love ribs of all kinds and this one is the best. Always have preferred dry rub and my wife loves barbecue. Well this one satisfys both of us and I always serve the sauce hot for guests to apply their own. We always buy Kansas City style and cut off the chine as suggested and then cook the chine, etc. by itself on another day as I am doing right now. I guess I'm not a fan of bottled sauces and always make this one - I can eat it by the spoonful cold or hot.

truly excellent

Excellent rub- haven't tried the sauce but the rub and oven method (for winter- we put them on the BBQ for last hour if weather permits) is top notch..

This has become a staple in our house both in summer and winter. The rub is terrific and the sauce provides a cooling partner. Many guests have gushhed over it but since we're 'empty nesters', I've found that making the full sauce recipe or even double and freezing portions in plastic baggies allows for the full experience without the cooking every time. Just nuke (uh microwave) the bag at the last minute. The accompaniments are often cole slaw and slow roasted beets from another issue.

This has become one of my family's favorite's. I use my own barbecue sauce but follow the recipe for the ribs faithfully. Truly wonderful.

the best i've ever had

The rub is terrific and has become my house rub. The sauce is great too, but I usually use a purchased sauce to make life easier. I adapted recipe for the grill(gas, indirect heat, 300-325 degrees) since grilling year round is an option. I add wood chips, usually hickory but sometimes apple. Cooking time is same. Rotate ribs once during the two hours. I also use a water pan in grill to keep ribs from getting dry.

I have made this recipe several times for company. The ribs were served both with and without the barbecue sauce. In every case they received rave reviews and a request for the recipe. Great served with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and coleslaw.

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