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oven braised pork ribs

Sat, 22 May, 2021

⯆ JUMP TO RECIPE
Oven roasted pork ribs, or when less meat is most definitely more.

oven braised pork ribs cuisinefiend.com

Pork ribs: spare or back?

Why pork ribs are always labelled as barbecue food is beyond me. It is the least barbequable cut of meat I can think of: it needs to be cooked forever and longer. Pork ribs cooked on a BBQ grill will be half-burnt and awfully tough.

Pork ribs come as spare or back and the latter, also called baby ribs, are the best in my modest opinion. Spare ribs are cut from the belly of a pig and back, as you might have guessed, from around the loin.

oven roasted baby back ribs cuisinefiend.com

Those baby backs usually come in racks and have very little meat on them – it’s what’s left once the bacon has gone away for curing - but that is the whole point. Meaty spare ribs are just like any other cur of pig; racks of back/baby ribs are special.

The scarcity of meat on them made this cut my daughter’s favourite dish when she was a food-averse child. I cooked ribs often enough back then to become a little tired of them, but they should certainly be recommended: beautifully cheap, easy to cook albeit time-consuming and in line with my credo of not wasting any part of the animal. Plus, meat on the bone is the tastiest – especially when there’s not a lot of it.

pork rib racks cuisinefiend.com

How to cook perfect baby back ribs

Now, what should the best ribs be like? Sweet, spicy, chewy, crispy, pull away, fall off the bone? This recipe is all of it and more. My ribs (figuratively speaking) are braised, Samin Nosrat’s style, for hours and then given a final blast of heat to give the already unbelievably tender meat a crisp carapace.

Seasoning

A disciple of Samin’s, I salt my meat as early as possible. Salt tenderises it which might seem superfluous compared to the length of cooking time, but salt also infinitely improves the flavour. I like Creole seasoning for pork, which you can easily mix at home, but if your preference lies east, be generous with five spice or a chilli mix.

Aromatics

For aromatics, I picked onion (of course), garlic (naturally) and celeriac instead of celery from the Creole trinity. That’s a thrifty swap because the long-roasted celeriac chunks taste wonderful – and it’s a side dish thus sorted.

pork loin ribs braised in the oven cuisinefiend.com

Braising liquid

Beer, lager, ale or stout serves well as the cooking liquor, but it can be replaced with water or chicken stock. I should not at this stage pour in any sweet liquids, like Coca-Cola or pineapple juice since in the four hours of cooking the sweet liquid will make the baking dish impossible to wash.

The sweet factor, which ribs must have, is provided with a lick of maple syrup over the almost-finished ribs, in the last minutes of roasting.

Roasting tray

Although you can stack the racks, I do like cooking them in the largest roasting tray I have, so they all cook evenly. That way also they are never immersed in the liquid but just steam in the flavour. But turning the racks over every half an hour is obligatory – trust me. Trust Samin.

As a result the meat is so tender you don’t need your teeth for it, let alone a knife. Pull apart, fall off the bone, sweet and crisp in places – these pork ribs tick all the boxes.


oven braised pork ribs

Servings: 4Time: 5 hours

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 racks of pork loin ribs (baby back ribs)
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. Creole seasoning
  • 1 onion
  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • ½ small celeriac
  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil, for browning ribs
  • 1 litre (2 pints) beer or lager
  • maple syrup


METHOD

1. Sprinkle the ribs with salt as soon as you can, up to 2 days in advance.

2. On the day of cooking, season each rack with the Creole seasoning on both sides.

3. Roughly chop the onion, slice the garlic head in two crosswise; there is no need to peel either. Peel the celeriac though and cut into chunks. Arrange all the vegetables in a roasting tin large enough to contain the ribs in a single layer.

oven ready ribs cuisinefiend.com

4. Preheat the oven to 150C fan if available/300F/gas 2.

5. Brown the ribs on both sides in a large frying pan, in batches. Arrange in the roasting tray on top of the aromatics. Pour in the beer or lager and top up with boiling water, up to the racks, but not so full that the tray will be impossible to carry to the oven.

6. Transfer the tray to the oven and roast for 3 hours, turning the racks over every 30 minutes and topping up the liquid with water.

7. After the final turn (make sure the ribs are meat side up) drizzle them with maple syrup and return to the oven for another 30 minutes (that’s total roasting time 3½ hours).

how to roast perfect ribs cuisinefiend.com

8. Leave the ribs in switched off oven, loosely covered with kitchen foil, for 15-20 minutes. Divide into individual portions and serve, with the pieces of roast celeriac on the side.

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