Six-Hour Ribs

Oh blog, you poor, neglected thing, I’ve abandoned you for almost a week! I was in Washington, D.C. cooking with three chefs for my cookbook and before I knew it I was back and it was the weekend.

So let’s catch up. How’ve you been? As you know, I’ve been busy–scheduling, cooking, writing, traveling–but before I left for D.C. it was July 4th and I made dinner for my brother and his wife Tali. I made those ribs you see above; don’t they look good? They cooked for six hours in the oven wrapped in foil as suggested by that pre-eminent food scientist Harold McGee in this article for The New York Times.

This was the first time I’d cooked for Michael and Tali in New York (I’d made Thanksgiving before at our family’s house in South Florida, but nothing for them in my own apartment) so I wanted dinner to be good.

We started with this sour cherry cocktail from Michael Ruhlman’s blog, essentially smashed sour cherries with simple syrup and rum (the bamboo umbrellas I bought on a lark and kind of like them in this drink):


For the first course, I made Jasper White’s corn chowder which I once wrote about in a post called “Corngasm.” It’s a chowder–with fresh corn, bacon and cream–that’s certainly worthy of that title:cornchowder.jpg

I made Green Goddess Potato Salad from The Lee Bros. new cookbook, “Simple Fresh Southern”:


I’m not normally a big fan of potato salad, but this one has a such an intense injection of fresh herbs–tarragon and parsley–plus scallions and a secret ingredient (anchovies!) it’s unlike any you’ve had before.

For dessert, there was a sour cherry crumble from another New York Times recipe (this one by Molly O’Neill):


But the ribs, undoubtedly, were the star of the show. The six hour cooking time make them incredibly succulent and the rub, made of brown sugar, paprika and garlic powder, creates a coating that’s both sweet and savory and surprisingly complex (I tasted it raw and was unimpressed; six hours later it tasted like heaven.)

Definitely make the sauce at the end with the accumulated juices; I was wary of how saucy it would be so I bought some commercial BBQ sauce just in case, but it ended up working really well (though I left out the vanilla; I thought that would taste creepy).

Here’s the recipe from Mr. McGee; the next time you have six hours to spare and family coming over for dinner, this is the thing to make.

Smoky Oven Spareribs

by Harold McGee

as printed in The New York Times

1 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons ancho chili powder or paprika

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

5 pounds spareribs, cut into 4 slabs, rinsed and patted dry

2 teaspoons mild or hot pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)

1 tablespoon cider vinegar or red or white vinegar

1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

1. Heat oven to 200 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, ancho chili powder or paprika, salt, garlic powder, cloves and cinnamon.


2. Place each slab of ribs on a piece of foil large enough to fold into a packet.


Sprinkle spice rub over the ribs, rubbing in thoroughly on all sides. With the ribs meat-side down, tightly fold the foil to form sealed packets.

3. Put a rack on a baking sheet, place packets on the rack and put in oven. Bake for 4 hours, then reduce heat to 175 degrees and bake for 2 more hours, or until a fork easily penetrates the meat.


4. Open each packet and pour the accumulated juices into a saucepan, then refold the packets. Bring juices to a simmer over medium heat and reduce by about half, until they cling to a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the pimentón, vinegar and vanilla extract.

5. Remove ribs from foil, coat with the sauce and serve.


The ribs can also be finished for 2 to 3 minutes on an open hot grill or smoky closed one, or under the broiler, then coated with sauce.

[Note: I didn’t do the broiler thing, but maybe next time I’ll try that.]

Let's dish!

Scroll to Top