Monday, January 3, 2011

My "Nongshim" Oven-Roasted Spareribs

You're probably thinking, what the hell is "Nongshim" spareribs? Do I mean "Korean Spareribs"? Or some fancy "fusion" spareribs? Nope. None of the above. Let's just say these spareribs came to be due to pure laziness on my part. 

It was really gloomy a few Sundays ago; it was rainy, dark, and cold. It was basically a perfect day for staying-in and doing nothing at all. I had in mind to make spaghetti and meatballs for dinner that night and had planned to go grocery shopping for ground meat and other necessities. But when I woke up that Sunday afternoon (notice "afternoon", not "morning"), I've already decided that I did not want to go out, but rather, lounge in my pajamas all day. So what's in store for dinner then? I told my boyfriend to check what he has in the freezer, and he busted out some items that were of no interest to me. Suddenly, he pulled out a whole rack of pork spareribs which he said he got on sale last week but he only realized, after he bought it, that it takes super long to make and he said it's simply not worth it for one person (he cooks for himself during the weeknights). I immediately took on the challenge of tackling these ribs. 

I had to find a ribs recipe somewhere first. Contrary to what you may think, this is actually a very hard task considering that my boyfriend's place does not not have a lot of spices, sauces, or generally just cooking essentials or equipment. I looked online; a lot of recipes for ribs, yes, but I was always missing many essential ingredient. I finally found a recipe in this America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook  that my boyfriend gave to me as a gift a few days ago.

I had almost everything to make these spareribs happen with the recipe, all that was missing was two ingredients for the dry rub: 1) chili powder, and 2) cayenne powder. I had EVERYTHING else but those two ingredients, which I think were quite important for the ribs considering it asked for 1/2 cup of chili powder (I wouldn't think a dry rub with just brown sugar and black pepper be any good). My boyfriend had no spicy dry ingredient whatsoever - only spicy sauces, which will not do. It was frustrating to say the least, I needed spicy dry substitutions BAD. I was just about to give up on the ribs altogether when I saw my favorite instant noodle in the kitchen cabinet - a light bulb immediately went off in my head...

TADA! I'm gonna use the the package of spicy powder in the Nongshim noodles to replace the chili powder and the cayenne powder in the dry rub! WOOHOO!!! ^___^

With that taken care of, it was smooth sailing from then on. The ribs turned out SO DELICIOUS! It was so tender, so juicy, with fall-off the-bone meat. I know I should be humble, but I can't - THESE RIBS ROCKED! Both racks had the perfect amount of fattiness and one of the racks had all soft bones too - a bit of crunch with the moist meat. 

Great ribs recipe! I did not do the last step (step 5) as it was getting late - it's up to you whether or not you feel the last step is necessary. The cookbook does explain why it makes a difference (which I've included), but if you're under time constraint, like how I was, I assure you that the ribs were delicious without the last step anyway. Below is the recipe, straight from the book.

Oven-Roasted Spareribs - adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 45 minutes plus 1 hour standing time

It may be tempting to substitute baby back ribs for the spareribs in this recipe, but don't. Since baby back ribs contain very little fat, they are susceptible to dry-ing out when cooked this way.

  • 2 full racks of spare ribs (2 to 3 pounds each), trimmed lightly
  • 3/4 cup Basic BBQ Rub 
  • 1 1/2 cup BBQ Sauce, plus extra for serving

Ingredients for the Basic BBQ Rub
Makes about 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1. Rub the ribs with dry rub, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Lay the ribs, meaty-side up, on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Wrap the pan with foil. Roast for 1 hour.
3. Remove the foil and continue to roast for 1 more hour.
4. Brush the meaty side of the ribs with barbecue sauce, uncovered, until the bones have separated from the meat, about 1 1/2 hours longer.
5. Remove the ribs from the oven and wrap each slab in foil. Put the foil-wrapped ribs in a paper bag and seal tightly. Allow the ribs to rest at room temperature for 1 hour before serving more barbecue sauce.

Test Kitchen Tip: A Two-Step Roast

The secret to moist ribs with a thick, flavourful crust is our two-step cooking method. The ribs are first roasted covered in foil, which helps them retain their juiceness. After an hour, the foil is removed and the ribs finish roasting uncovered, hwich gives them their characteristic dark crust. The final step of wrapping the eribs in foil and putting them in a paper bag may seem one step too many, but trust us, it is well worth it. We found the meat finished in this way to be extrarodinary succulent and tender.