Jan 29, 2009

Spare Ribs Part I


I have a thing for ribs! All of ’em! Country style ribs, baby back ribs, spare ribs—I don’t care what name you give them, just hand me a plate full and I’ll love you forever. I don’t make them too often, though, not sure why because they take some time to cook but are hardly any work to prepare.

I for one understand how the myriad of preparation options can sometimes be overwhelming to those new to cooking. Basically it depends on what you grew up with, what part of the world you live in and what time of year it is. Charcoal grilling isn’t an option for me during autumn and winter. Also gender might play a role; for women a BBQ is about food, for men it’s an ego thing (just kidding:)

You can parboil them, smoke them, roast them, BBQ them, grill them, bake them—I’m sure I’m forgetting a method or two here. Same goes for the seasoning. Lots of people swear by a dry rub, not me, I prefer them marinated; saucy sauced ribs. The men around here are very fond of this particular marinade, it’s sweet, spicy and fragrant in a smoky kind of way.

Since I’m always curious; what’s your favorite marinade/dry rub and how do you prepare your ribs?



2 pounds spare ribs
1/2 onion
1 garlic clove
7 tbsp ketchup
3 tbsp steak sauce
3 tbsp sweet chili sauce
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp ginger
4 tbsp water



Spare ribs are definitely among my personal favorites. Here’s about 2 pounds of them. I like them best with a tiny layer of fat still on them.


I’ve finely minced a small onion and grated a decent sized garlic clove.


The first one, well, I think it’s a global one; Heinz Ketchup. The bottle on the right is called HP steak sauce, it has a very distinctive taste. The guys here love it. It’s like a mix of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce with a little extra hint of something. If you don’t have steak sauce or something similar, just replace it with more ketchup and a good splash of Worcestershire sauce.


Richelle was kind enough to mail me this and boy, oh boy, did she make me a happy Dutch girl. It’s smoky paprika powder—very hard (near impossible) to come by in the Netherlands. I’m using the sweet version for this! Thanks Richelle, it’s fantastic stuff! The hot version worked wonders on the Hungarian Potato Goulash!


I’ve heated a tbsp olive oil and sauteed the onions over low heat. After about 4 minutes I’ve added the garlic and gave everything 3 more minutes.


Add 1 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp ginger powder, 1 tsp mustard powder and 1/2 a tsp smoky paprika powder. Cook the spices for about a minute to get the flavors going. Cooking spices really brings out their flavor, but never cook them for too long or they might turn bitter. About 30 to 60 seconds is all they need.


Spoon in 7 tbsp ketchup, 3 tbsp steak sauce (or ketchup with a splash of Worcestershire sauce), 3 tbsp sweet chili sauce and 2 tbsp soy sauce.


I like them a bit spicy so I’ve added some tabasco, about 5 shakes. You can leave it out or use a bit of cayenne in stead. I like my ribs pretty sweet so I’ve also added 3 tbsp brown sugar, just keep tasting after each tbsp to see if it’s sweet enough for you. Add 4 tbsp water and give everything a good stir.


Bring to a boil and simmer, over very low heat, for 15 minutes. The sauce starts out fairly red, but gets a deeper, almost brown color during simmering. Lots of steam broke the focus a bit.


Divide the sauce over two bowls, cover one of the bowls with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. This will be your basting sauce.


Give every rib its own wide piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. Brush all sides of the spare rib with the marinade.


Wrap the rib tightly in the aluminum foil.


Just put them in the fridge for a full day, if that won’t flavor them, nothing will!

To be continued …

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    1. 1

      I like ribs marinaded and I use a similar marinade to you except I add some fruit jam or chutney for an added flavour twist and I use dried chil flakes to add the kick. Then I put the ribs and the marinade in a tupperware marinading box in the fridge for 24 hours, shaking and turning every few hours. Then onto a baking sheet and into a hot oven for 30 to 40 minutes, turning once during cooking. Yummy. And don’t forget to put the potatoes in the oven with the ribs as ribs really need baked potatoes with sour cream and chives.

      Louise on Jan 29, 2009 @ 9:31 am Reply
    2. 2

      Louise, that brought back memories! I used (sugar free) fruit jam all the time when I was still low carbing. It does amazing things to a marinade.

      Kay on Jan 29, 2009 @ 10:55 am Reply
    3. 3

      Spanish smoked paprika is my favourite spice. It is soooo good.

      Karohemd on Jan 29, 2009 @ 12:50 pm Reply
    4. 4

      Karohemd, you have no idea how happy she made me .. it’s heaven in a jar :)

      Amazing that you just can’t buy it in the Netherlands.

      Kay on Jan 29, 2009 @ 12:52 pm Reply
    5. 5

      Wow! These look amazing. I love all the step by step pictures. Making something like this always scares me because I think I’m not doing something right. So the pictures are a big help!

      Melissa on Jan 29, 2009 @ 3:07 pm Reply
    6. 6

      Melissa, I also prefer visual recipes. Reading a recipe one thing, but actually seeing al the steps is more helpful to me, too.

      Kay on Jan 29, 2009 @ 3:18 pm Reply
    7. 7

      Oh Kay, you stinker you… no part 1 and part 2….. I need to see what happened to those yummy, wrapped up, tender morsels of meat….sigh….

      This looks way user friendly and I am going out to the store TODAY and getting me some ribs!! Oh yes, today is the day!

      What a fabulous recipe! Thankyou for sharing it!


      Amy@ Joy of my Heart on Jan 29, 2009 @ 4:03 pm Reply
    8. 8

      Yummy!… except I was dying to see part 2!!!!

      My mom is a “dutch girl” and your cooking reminds me a lot of hers!

      I have really enjoyed your blog.

      Dede on Jan 29, 2009 @ 5:00 pm Reply
    9. 9

      They’re just not proper ribs unless they’ve been cooked on a charcoal grill — and we never got around to buying a grill last summer — so I’ve yet to have ribs since moving here to the Netherlands. We do a mix of treatments. First they get a dry rub, which is a blend of just about every seasoning I have in the cupboard, then they get smoked for a while. Then they get braised in a bourbon, apple juice, honey, mustard and rosemary mixture, then when they’re done, they get a few minutes open grilling where we slather on the BBQ sauce (which requires molasses). Various quantities of beer should be consumed during this process, and a warm sunny place to sit outside while you enjoy the scent of all that pork cooking is also a must!

      I suspect I’ll have to break down and buy molasses from the expensive Brit/American food store. It’s just not BBQ sauce without it! ;)

      I’m really enjoying your site, as it gives me great ideas for recipes with ingredients I at least know I can find here. Thanks!

      Alison on Jan 29, 2009 @ 6:14 pm Reply
    10. 10

      I’ve been looking for molasses as well, no such luck. The warm weather … well, it’ll be a while before we get to sit outside, I’m afraid. Is there an American food store where you are?

      Kay on Jan 29, 2009 @ 6:22 pm Reply
    11. 11

      There’s a small British/American shop not far from me in the center of Utrecht and I know I’ve seen molasses there. Unfortunately, all of their stuff is outrageously expensive. Even baking soda was twice what it cost at one of the Chinese markets in town. At least molasses lasts forever and one bottle usually lasts me a few years.

      Alison on Jan 29, 2009 @ 6:28 pm Reply
    12. 12

      Alison, I know about the crazy prices. They charge almost 5 euros for some crisco!

      Kay on Jan 29, 2009 @ 6:30 pm Reply
    13. 13

      Looks delicious!
      The way we make them is make a dry rub of various spices or even buy one and rub it in, wrap in foil and let sit for 24 hours. then bake in oven at a low temp like 275o for 2-3 hours (depending on what cuts of ribs you have). Open packets and let cool a bit. Then cover in lots of sauce and finish under the broiler or grill if not too soft. I don’t parboil them anymore. Yes it removed alot of the fat but it removed alot of flavour as well.

      Randi on Jan 29, 2009 @ 6:30 pm Reply
    14. 14

      Due to lack of storage space in my kitchen, I skipped the Crisco for the pie crusts this past Thanksgiving, but if I had, I would have bought that at the Chinese market as well (also about half the price). As it was, I did break down and buy the canned pumpkin from the import shop and just about died when I heard the cost!

      Alison on Jan 29, 2009 @ 6:33 pm Reply
    15. 15

      Fantastic and I can’t wait for part 2!! My local store has ribs on sale this week and I had decided not to buy any. I have just changed my mind!! Thanks!

      ChefBliss on Jan 29, 2009 @ 6:42 pm Reply
    16. 16

      I just smoked a few racks of baby back ribs this past Sunday, had ’em on for about 5 hours. Mighty Tasty! I use a dry rub on them, but be sure to take the membrane off the undersde first though. First I use fresh lime all over the ribs and a light sprinke of kosher salt. The rub I use consists of about 4 T Paprika, 2 T chili powder, and 1 T of the following..dry mustard, kosher salt, black pepper, Goya Adobo (seasoned salt), 1 Goya Sason packet (Little Seasoning packets) and brown sugar. Used Mesquite wood to smoke them.

      When I do “Sweet Ribs”, I put the lime, salt & a lighter dusting of rub on them, then I put 2 racks so the undersides are facing each other, kinda “clam shelled…” and then wrap them up in heavy duty foil to form like a “packet”….sealed at the top by folding it til it’s fairly tight. I put them on the top shelf of my gas grill, and flip them after a half hour, (I reckon about 350 F in an oven for an hour would do the same trick…) so the packet “Jiffy Pops” and kinda steams the ribs. Then brown them up on the grill, apply sauce and enjoy. I usually take store sauce, add honey, lime and minced Rosemary….

      Mike in Arizona on Jan 29, 2009 @ 7:17 pm Reply
    17. 17

      That is one Killer Recipe!! We love Baby Backs in this house.. The way I cook them is I slather the top with bbq sauce and put them in a roasting pan with about a couple inches of water, I add to the water a couple glasses of red wine cover and slow cook in the oven at 275 for about 5 hrs and OMG they are amazing. Falling off the bone and the red wine flavor is infused in the meat and tastes amazing!!!

      Cathy on Jan 29, 2009 @ 7:43 pm Reply
    18. 18

      Mike, thank you!! I didn’t even think of adding lime! Me, the lime junkie, it’s crazy. That’s going to be a divine combination! (good thing I still have 4 pounds of ribs in the freezer:)

      Kay on Jan 29, 2009 @ 9:05 pm Reply
    19. 19

      Have mercy! This is too much! Too yummy! I’m stuck in class! How will I continue to learn about group counseling because all I can think about are these ribs!

      Annie Wild on Jan 30, 2009 @ 12:18 am Reply
    20. 20

      I didn’t take the time to read all the replies. I add a small splash of vinegar to my sauce, usually red wine. It’s give the sauce a zing and mixed with the brown sugar or molasses…it’s yummm!

      KatieInOKC on Jan 30, 2009 @ 12:45 am Reply
    21. 21

      Kay…I just bought some molasses for 2.50 American dollars…it’ll last forever and it’s really cheap…want me to send you some?

      KatieInOKC on Jan 30, 2009 @ 12:48 am Reply
    22. 22

      Katie, thanks for the offer but I found something called “Grandma’s molasses’ in a store online last night, and placed an order. So hoping it’ll arrive a in a few days. Are you familiar with the brand?

      Kay on Jan 30, 2009 @ 7:59 am Reply
    23. 23

      Those spare ribs are looking good!

      Kevin on Jan 30, 2009 @ 3:51 pm Reply
    24. 24

      Hi Kay,

      Glad you like the smoked paprika powders. Just send me an email when you need more! I’ll be using lots of it in a week or two, when we are going to slaughter our male pig and I’ll be making lots and lots of chorizo!

      Love from Spain,

      Richelle on Feb 8, 2009 @ 8:23 pm Reply
    25. 25

      Can I use yellow mustard sauce instead of mustard powder…if yes how much should I add to the receipe.

      Thanks – Izabel

      Izabel on Feb 15, 2010 @ 5:06 pm Reply

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