Making barbeque, specifically barbequed ribs at home can be as complex or simple as you wish to make the process. Not all of us have the space, time or equipment to plate succulent, falling off the bone, sweet, tangy, spicy, smoked barbeque ribs. Most of us can replicate the sweet, tangy and spicy elements, but to impart the smoked quality of ribs typically requires a smoker in the process.
Thankfully, liquid smoke allows amateurs such as me with little desire to invest or the time to carefully tend the smoker as the ribs are slowly cooked to perfection. Possible heresy, absolutely, but with some planning, an oven at 225 degrees Fahrenheit (107 degrees Celsius), liquid smoke and your chosen ingredients, you can create your own slow cooked smoked barbeque ribs in the oven.
Preparing the Ribs (Approximately 24 Hours before you are planning to eat):
- Remove the rack of ribs (Baby Back, Short, Saint Louis styles) from the packaging and separate the membrane attached to the bone side of the ribs. I find that inserting a spoon between the membrane and the bone and then pulling the membrane off using a paper towel between the fingers works best.
- Cut the rack into two or three portions with an equal number of ribs in each.
- In a Ziploc bag or glass dish place the ribs and add ½ Cup of Worcestershire Sauce and a ¼ Cup of Liquid Smoke. Place in the refrigerator, turning the meat every couple of hours to ensure equal marinating coverage. Marinating for 12 hours provides a good amount of time.
- Remove the ribs from the marinade, shaking off any excess liquid and the place on a sheet of aluminum foil. Lightly coat the ribs (both sides) with a dry rub or mixture of seasonings of your choice. I have found that Stewie’s Grub Rub perfect for pork ribs.
- Double wrap the ribs in aluminum foil and store in refrigerator until four hours before you are planning to eat. I prefer using aluminum foil in lieu of a Pyrex casserole dish tightly covered with aluminum foil because the cleaning afterwards is simpler.
Preparing the Barbeque Glaze:
- In a small bowl mix a ½ Cup of Honey, 2 Tablespoons of Vinegar, 2 Tablespoons of Liquid Smoke with Salt and Black Pepper to taste. Any preferred glaze will accomplish the job, but I would recommend adding additional liquid smoke to a store purchased barbeque sauce.
Slow Cooking The Ribs:
- Four to four and a half hours (Short Ribs and Saint Louis Style may require a little more time to slow cook), preheat the oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit (107 degrees Celsius), and place the wrapped ribs (bone side down) on a baking sheet on the middle rack.
- Walk away for three and a half to four hours. Allow the oven to perform its intended function and to slowly cook the ribs to perfection.
- A half hour before you are ready to eat, take the ribs out of the oven, carefully opening the aluminum foil and apply the first coat of barbeque glaze. Loosely re-wrap the ribs and place back in the oven.
- Fifteen minutes later, apply a second coat of barbeque glaze. Place the ribs back in the oven and do not cover with the aluminum foil.
- Remove the ribs from the oven and apply a third coat of the barbeque glaze and allow the racks of ribs to rest covered ten to fifteen minutes before serving.
The result are ribs that are tender, juicy and full of flavor with a hint of spicy, tangy, sweetness with just enough smoky quality that is a fair enough substitute for ribs slowed smoke for hours in a specialized barbeque contraption that not all of us possess. In addition to this, an oven can accommodate four to six racks of ribs as long as you rotate the ribs between the cooking racks and add a little extra time for the ribs to be slow cooked. Whereas smoking ribs outside in a smoker can be a miserable, if not impossible experience when the weather is cold, raining or snowing, the oven in the kitchen is protected the weather allowing you to slow cook ribs year round and not just between Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day.