If there is one thing my family knows food-wise, it is BBQ. Pulled pork, pulled chicken, smoked ribs, smoked chicken. We will go for it all, and we often do. My parents are serious in their critiques of BBQ whenever we go somewhere new, and very rarely do the restaraunts meet expectations. Usually the ribs are deemed not as good as the ones my dad makes and the pulled pork falls on a scale from pretty good to this-has-a-weird-flavor. Sometimes it’s even a scrunched up nose from my mom and a shrug from my dad and actual words (“That wasn’t the best”) once we are in the car. Sometimes though, places get rave reviews, and this really means something. My parents are like the New York Times Critics of BBQ restaurants–they do not hand out stars willy-nilly.
It has been like this my whole life. We have certain BBQ restaurants we go to, and we always try to remember what to get where. (The chicken here has an odd taste but the pulled pork is good. Here the ribs are too spicy but the pulled chicken is delicious. Etc etc.) And once my dad started smoking his own ribs and chicken and pork butts, my family’s BBQ intensity doubled.
All this to say…I was raised to take BBQ seriously.
So I did not take serving ribs to my parents a few weeks ago lightly. I had pulled Deb’s recipe months ago (years ago maybe even?), but I suppose the idea of making ribs at home intimidated me (how could they possibly match the standards to which I have been raised?). But then I saw some ribs on sale and wanted something easy but seasonally appropriate to match our football watching Saturday, and these ribs seemed like it.
But then we decided to have my parents over to watch the game (and mostly to see their granddaughter because none of her grandparents can get enough of her), and briefly I reconsidered making ribs. I never get nervous or hesitant about feeding my parents. They think everything I make is great, and I can even undercook chicken and have to put it back in the oven and create a general dinner disaster (like I did the night before Evelyn was born), and they really just don’t care and are just happy to be eating at my house. But serving them ribs baked in the oven that are trying to disguise themselves as actual properly done BBQ ribs? HA.
And here I will just cut to the chase and tell you that, luckily for all of us, these ribs were delicious. In fact, I think they may be some of my favorite ribs I have ever had anywhere (don’t tell my dad I just said that), and they were amazingly easy to make. It’s a simple dry rub, sweetened with brown sugar, hit with just a bit of heat that didn’t overwhelm even me, and then wrapped in the warmth of cinnamon. You rub it on the ribs, wrap them in foil, and then put them in the oven for the afternoon. And THAT’S IT. When they’re done you just boil the leftover juices with two additional ingredients and you have a sauce.
It almost seems unfair that BBQ ribs so easy can be so delicious. But it is truth. Even my parents admitted it.
I love everything about these ribs. They are easy to make. The rub is complex: sweet and smoky with a bit of heat. They absolutely fall off the bone. I've had my fair share of ribs and I have to tell you: these are some of my favorites.
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 3 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3-4 lb. pork back ribs
- 2 teaspoons pimentón or smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon vinegar (cider, red, or white)
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, paprika, salt, garlic powder, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir together.
- Spread several large pieces of foil out on your counter top (enough to enclose each slab of ribs). Place the ribs on the foil and pat them dry. Generously rub all sides of the ribs with the brown sugar rub, and then place the ribs meat side down on the foil. Fold the foil up over the ribs to create a tightly sealed packet.
- Place a rack on a baking sheet, and then place the rib packets on the rack. Bake for 4 hours. Then decrease the heat to 175 degrees F and bake for 2 more hours.
- Remove the ribs from the oven and carefully unfold the end of each sealed packet. Pour the juices from the packetsin a small saucepan and bring to a boil oven medium-high heat. Let them reduce by half and then stir in the smoked paprika and vinegar.
- Remove the ribs from the foil packets and slice to serve. Serve with the sauce poured over or with it served on the side.
adapted from Smitten Kitchen