Mommy's Favorite Oven Ribs

You do not need to spend money on a smoker to have delicious ribs at home. 

I live in Kansas City, which is The Barbecue Capital of the World. (I said what I said.) Everyone and their mother has a smoker, a dry rub recipe, a BBQ sauce recipe, and at least one person in their social circle that has had a BBQ team compete in a competition or two. Because I was a chef for so long, I know many teams that have competed in the American Royal. I haven't ever, but I do enjoy the fanfare that comes along with it. I enjoy how the city comes alive. I also enjoy how much the citizens of this city are willing to throw down for their favorite BBQ place.    

Naturally, it would only be a matter of time before I came up with a recipe of my own. Like many, I wanted something unique. The only trouble is that I didn't want anything that was unique just for the sake of being different. Cooking is a way of communicating your own point of view, a way to voice yourself without saying a word. When you stand in the kitchen, ready to cook, the thing you should ask yourself is:

"What do you feel like saying?"

If you're unsure yet, feel free to use my favorite dry rub recipe as a jumping-off point until you decide for yourself what you want. I hope you'll hear what I'm saying in this recipe, which is a favorite of both my husband and my son. I made this because I don't have a smoker in my backyard and I love the idea of having ribs when all I have is an oven. I believe you shouldn't need specialty equipment to enjoy good food. Join me!

Mommy's Favorite Oven Ribs

  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 3 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp whole coriander
  • 10 whole spiceberries
  • 1 dried chili
  • 1 Chinese long pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint leaves
  • 1 rack of St. Louis pork ribs
This is a fantastic dry-brine recipe. 

Grind the whole spices together in a spice grinder until you get a fine powder. Mix it with the sugar, salt, garlic powder, cardamom, and mint. Take out your rack of ribs and pat them dry with a paper towel. Rub your spice mixture all over and place on a rack on a sheet pan. Allow it all to sit, uncovered, in the fridge, for at least 3 hours. Bake in the oven at 225 degrees F for 4-5 hours. While it's cooking, here's why this rub works:

We're playing with the principles of contrasting flavors. Each of those spices has its own strong and unique flavor, and by pairing them with their opposites you can create an exciting and balanced flavor profile. When it comes to ribs, in my quite-humble opinion, the complex approach is best. The principles of Asian cooking fall basically with: flavors should be combined with other opposing flavors for an exciting experience. 

When your 4 hours are up, simply evacuate your ribs and wrap them immediately in foil. Allow the meat to rest for at least 20 minutes before serving. I personally like to let my ribs rest for a full hour before serving. My favorite side dish with these are a simple side of roasted zucchini. What are yours?

I love this recipe because it's incredibly easy. I can leave the low oven on all day while I take care of other things and have a delicious dinner ready with minimal effort. Serve it with a simple green salad, baked potatoes, or some macaroni and cheese. Heck, serve this with coconut rice and lumpiang shanghai! As far as I can tell, this is still a free country, so have some fun. 

This will not taste the exact same when it's on the smoker versus in the oven, but this dry rub will be quite good. I love this because the rub itself is great for all proteins. Use it for chicken, pork butt, brisket, a large salmon filet, or even a big block of tofu. I've yet to use it on cauliflower steaks, but if you would like to give that a shot, please let me know in the comments or on Instagram.

I hope you've enjoyed spending a little bit of your day with me. Happy cooking and happy eating!