Backyard Barbecue.

In a place where dreams are reality, a backyard barbecue would happen every other day or so. Sadly, this is certainly wishful thinking, seeing as I don’t even have a backyard. I do, however, have a terrific and spacious lanai. Although, even then, it can only be used as our dining table as an excuse to feel ‘outdoors’ for our deliciously-cooked-in-the-oven barbecue meal. Mind you, it was still just as fabulous as the real backyard deal.

Nothing screams summer (albeit nearly over) like barbecued ribs. I swear, it has to be universal. I’m sure everybody has their own form of barbecue that epitomizes the sunny summer season. If this isn’t the case, it needs to be because otherwise they don’t know what they’re missing out on!

I’ve never cooked or grilled or barbecued ribs, ever. I’ve always left that up to other, older, more experienced master chefs, kitchen gurus, and Bobby Flays. Needless to say, I’ve always happily been on the receiving end of the barbecue bashes leaving me with a food-pregnant stomach and sloppy-mopped grin. Seriously, people who are able to cook meat to perfection deserve standing ovations and this rib recipe can glorify any cook, experienced or beginner. Not to mention, it also brings out the barbaric side of any gallivanting carnivore (or maybe just me).

Sweet & Smokey Spare Ribs
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4-5


1 cup brown sugar plus a little extra for sauce (what can I say, I like my meat sweet)
2 tablespoons chili powder (ancho is recommended) or paprika (I used paprika)
3-4 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 pounds spareribs, cut into 4 slabs, rinsed and patted dry
2 teaspoons mild or hot pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika) or cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cider vinegar or red or white vinegar


Heat oven to 270 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, chili powder or paprika, salt, garlic powder, cloves and cinnamon; you can do this easily with a fork. Place each slab of ribs on a piece of foil large enough to fold into a packet. Sprinkle spice rub over the ribs, patting it in generously on all sides — you’ll be glad you did. Turn the ribs meat side down and tightly fold the foil to make sealed packets.

Put a rack on a baking sheet (I needed two racks and two sheets; a cookie cooling rack works for this) and place it in the oven. Bake for 3 hours at 270 degrees, then reduce the temperature to 200 for another hour or so or until a fork easily penetrates the meat. Open each packet carefully and pour the accumulated juices into a saucepan. Boil the juices and reduce them by half, at which point you will have a syrupy sauce that easily coats a spoon. Stir in paprika and vinegar and if you’re like me, a little more sugar.

Remove the ribs from the foil and either coat them with the sauce or serve the sauce alongside the ribs. For extra caramelization, the ribs can be finished for a few minutes under the broiler, before being coated with sauce.

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