This simple oven baked spare ribs recipe doesn't come close to the competitive levels of bar b que grill aficionados! It's not intended to do so. It's for those of us who don't have access to a smoke or bar b que grill and those of use who don't have access to a lovely hunk of a man or woman who loves to grill? And frankly, the recipe is for those of us who don't want to go to a restaurant.
Baby back ribs and Saint Louis Style ribs are excellent for baking in the oven. What's the difference between the two?
"Baby back ribs (also back ribs or loin ribs) are taken from the top of the rib cage between the spine and the spare ribs, below the loin muscle." Baby back ribs are tender and meaty between the bones but the bones are shorter. A slab can consist of 10-13 bones, about 1-1/2 to 2 pounds. Baby back ribs also tend to be more expensive.
Saint Louis Style pork ribs are meatier. They're trimmed down (breast bones and hard cartilage are removed) from spare ribs which are cut from the breast portion of the pig. The bones are larger than baby back ribs, flat, just as meaty but less expensive. A slab can weight up to 2-1/2 pounds. Saint Louis Style pork ribs require more cooking time. (from Kitchn.com).
Seasonings and Rubs:
Please don't misunderstand me, I have and continue to indulge in eating ribs smothered in rubs and sauces--when someone else cooks it. There must be at least a thousand variations on seasoning and rub combinations from home made to store bought. But this recipe is about a simple, juicy and also finger licking good.
So I keep seasonings simple. Why? In my humble opinion, the flavor of a good slab of ribs is rich and absolutely delicious when cooked slowly and basted with it's own fat juice, and a minimum amount of seasonings.
Pre-heat oven 375 degrees
1-2 slabs of Baby Back or Saint Louis Style pork ribs
Salt and Pepper
Wash ribs. Sprinkle seasoning well to cover both sides of the slab of ribs. Place slab in a large rectangle glass baking dish or roasting pan with lid. Lay the slabs flat to ensure it's cooked evenly. Cover with aluminum foil if using the open baking dish. If using a roasting pan, cover it with the lid. Place the baking dish on the middle rack of the oven.
Baking and Basting Time:
For baby back pork ribs: Total cook time is 1 hour, 15 minutes. After the first 45 minutes, remove dish from the oven and uncover. (Be very careful of escaping steam.) Using a spoon or syringe, collect juices from the bottom of the pan and spread it back over the ribs. Put the cover back on and put the ribs back in the oven. Repeat the basting at the 1 hour interval. Continue to cook for 15 minutes. At the 1 hour, 15 minute interval, remove from oven. Repeat the basting. Check that the ribs are cooked to your desired tenderness. I prefer the ribs to be tender enough to nearly fall off the bone. But be careful to not cook so that the ribs are dry and stringy. Remove from oven allow ribs to rest for 10 minutes.
For Saint Louis Style pork ribs: Total cook time is 2 hours. Follow instructions for basting at 15 minute intervals as described under baby back pork ribs.
Oven baked Saint Louis Style spare ribs without sauce. Eat as is or add sauce.
When To Add Sauce:
There are 2 methods. One is to cook the sauce on the ribs. I'm from the upper mid-West where we cooked the sauce on the ribs. When I oven bake with the sauce on, I add it at the last 15 minutes of cook time but I leave the cover off.
The second method is to add the sauce after cooking.