Pork spare ribs, when prepared properly, are a delicious and crowd-pleasing meal. There are two ways in which pork spare ribs are best cooked: grilled, and baked. Before the ribs are actually “cooked”, they must, in general, first be parboiled.
Parboiling is a process which infuses the meat with both flavor and tenderness. Parboiling alleviates the margin for error, and the much longer cooking time, for raw ribs. It is not necessary, but most rib prepares find it helpful, more flavorful and more efficient than cooking raw ribs alone.
To parboil ribs:
Start water boiling in a stew pot or stock pot, any container which will allow you to completely submerge the ribs AND will not boil over. For EACH full rack you will be boiling, add to the water twelve (12) ounces of Worcestershire sauce (preferably Lea & Perrins) and one one generous pinch of salt (preferably kosher salt). Cut the ribs according to how you would like them served: restaurant-style servings are generally half-rack cuts, while barbecue-style cuts generally divide the rack into individual ribs. Once the parboiling water reaches a boil, add the ribs. Depending on the thickness and number of ribs, and the amount of water used, parboiling can take anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour or more. For this reason, it is generally preferred to parboil well before cooking, or even a day or two before. the ribs will be done parboiling not just when they have the appearance of being cooked, but when the meat can easy be tugged away from the bone. Be aware that over-boiling will make the rib meat too tender, resulting in ribs that simply fall apart. Watch carefully when the ribs are close to make sure they are neither overcooked or undercooked. When the ribs are done, drain off water, pat ribs dry with a paper towel, and set aside.
To bake pork spare ribs:
Place ribs on aluminum foil inside a baking tray, or on a nonstick baking tray. Place the meat side up so that the rib bones, not the meat, rest on the baking tray. Cover as liberally as desired with barbecue sauce, steak sauce, or any other desired dressing. Cook parboiled ribs at 350 degrees for 15-30 minutes, depending on thickness. If you want the ribs to avoiding “browning” or “crisping” of sauce/dressing, bake covered; if browning or crisping is desired, back uncovered.
To barbecue pork spare ribs:
place ribs meat side up on a grill at low heat (for grills with temperature gauges, between 350 and 400 degrees). Brush sauce onto top of ribs, then flip ribs, and brush bottom side. the more barbecue sauce is exposed to heat without burning, the more the sugars crystallize. If you want “spicier” ribs, cook the ribs on low heat with the grill covered, brushing them with no sauce frequently to cook ribs as fast as possible while minimizing sweetness. If you want “sweet” ribs, let the ribs take time. Dress them with sauce, leave the grill open on low heat, flip them regularly but re-sauce them infrequently.
On a covered grill, cooking time is generally between ten and thirty minutes, depending on the number and thickness of ribs, and quality of grill flame. Regardless of whether you prefer sweet or spicy ribs, unattended ribs will burn quickly. Make sure not to leave ribs unattended; if possible, use a thermometer to determine whether the ribs are done– pork should have an internal temperature of 150 degrees to be considered safe to eat.
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