Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ribs, ribs, ribs...

Last night, I made my first go at doing ribs in the oven. I've been a strict wood-fired guy in the past. Soaked chips, cider drip pan, and all. Last summer, I made my peace with a gas grill. Last night, I made my peace with doing ribs in the convection oven.

The ribs in question were the pork ribs Trader Joe's sells. They aren't ideal since they're not from one of my local producers or butchers, but I tend to trust TJ's products. It was a little under three pounds — perfect for the kid and me and some leftovers. When it came time to prepare them, I mixed up a quick dry rub with flaked sea salt, smoked paprika, sweet paprika, cumin, parsley, cracked pepper, and sugar. I was satisfied with the rub, though I might try brown sugar next time to add a little extra caramelization.

I heated the oven to 300 degrees, applied the rub, and wrapped the ribs in foil. After twenty minutes, I raised the heat to 350, and then to 375 after another half hour. To keep them from drying out, I mixed up a quick mop sauce of cider vinegar, garlic mustard and bourbon. I mopped this on every fifteen minutes after the first half hour. After an hour, I opened the foil to let the skin begin to form on the ribs. Since I was working entirely on improvisation, I waited until it seemed like the ribs had also begun to develop a nice crust. At that point, I mopped on barbecue sauce for the last fifteen minutes.

The result? Stellar. The ribs were tender, and the combination of mop sauce, smoked paprika, and barbecue sauce gave them a good flavor. It wasn't quite as good as a few hours over a wood fire, but sometimes a craving requires improvisation.