Oven-baked BBQ Ribs

On these first days of pre-summer, when the breeze is still chilly but the sun warms your skin, and the daylight stretches later each evening, I am overwhelmed with an uncontrollable desire to fire up the BBQ pit. I crave the smell the smoke, long to hear the crackle of the flames as they lick the charcoal, yearn for the warmth of the whole delicious experience. One small problem: I live in downtown Milan, I don’t even have a balcony, much less a BBQ pit. The weekends have been hectic with work and we haven’t been able to slip away to our refuge by the sea where my BBQ pit lives. So what’s a Texan girl to do?

Never fear fellow barbecue lovers! I have a city-friendly recipe that will bring those tender tastes and smokey smells into your urban kitchen, no fire-hazards necessary! This recipe uses the “Low & Slow” method we Texans are so fond of, which means the ribs are cooked at a low temperature for a long time (usually with a lot of smoke), producing a flavorful and unbelievably tender final product. You will also need to prepare a dry rub, the secret to obtaining an intense flavor and crispy crust. When made in a home stove ribs won’t have the exact same flavor as when smoked in a BBQ pit, but the result is quite reminiscent of the real thing. In fact, they are so easy to prepare, and so finger-licking irresistible, you may end up wondering if firing up the pit would have even been worth the work!

Dry Rub:

A rub is a dry mixture of salt, spices and sometimes sugar, that are “rubbed” all over the meat before it’s cooked.

  • 4 large tablespoons of salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons brown (or cane) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons paprika dolce
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder or cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch of cumin

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Store in an airtight container.

BBQ Ribs al forno:

  • dry rub
  • 2 racks of pork ribs, about 3 lbs (1,4 kg) each

Trim any loose hanging ends, and remove the membrane from the bone side of the ribs.

Apply BBQ Rub to the whole surface of the rack of ribs, thick enough to heavily coat the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or preferably overnight. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat oven to 115°C. Place both rib racks, bone side down, on a large baking tray and bake  for a total of 3 – 3.5 hours. After 2.5 hours, cover the ribs tightly with aluminum foil, and continue baking. To test for doneness, poke the meat between the ribs with a toothpick or sharp knife. It is ready when the utensil meets no resistance and slips easily into the meat. When they are very close to being done, brush the ribs liberally with warm BBQ sauce and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove from oven and cut the ribs parallel to the bones. Serve with lots of napkins and no silverware.


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