Backyard barbecues call for juicy ribs, grilled to perfection over smoldering coals. When the weather turns cold or doesn’t cooperate, it is possible to achieve similar results when you bake pork spare ribs in the oven. The main consideration is keeping the ribs moist and tender. A slow oven at a low temperature is the preferred method for this task. You can replicate the outdoor grill taste with great seasoning, basting and patience.
Parboiling meat before you bake it is a technique that many cooks employ for outdoor grilling. When you bake pork spare ribs in the oven, you should skip this step unless you are short on time. The oven allows you to control the heat and moisture effectively enough that the ribs are less likely to dry out, making parboiling unnecessary.
Barbecue pit masters all have secrets rubs or marinades for their ribs. After salt and pepper, the most common additions to a dry rub are garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and a hint of sweetness from spices such as allspice or ginger powder. Heat lovers might add a dash of cayenne to a dry rub. Cumin also complements the flavor of pork ribs well.
Basting ribs while they cook is a barbecue tradition. Homemade or bottled barbecue sauce works well for basting. Some cooks use flavored seasonings such as liquid smoke, soy sauce or teriyaki sauce, with the barbecue sauce or alone. Most pit masters use a mop, which you can often find in cooking supply stores. The mop lets you put more of your basting sauce on the ribs than a pastry brush does.
A sheet pan lined with aluminum foil is the best equipment to use when you bake pork spare ribs in the oven. The foil makes cleanup simple. You can place a cookie or cake cooling rack on the foil to hold the ribs and raise them above the pan to keep them out of the fat.
Once the ribs are arranged on the rack, the next step is to preheat the oven to 300° Fahrenheit (149° Celsius) before putting the ribs on the top oven rack. The ribs and the sheet pan holding them should be checked every 30 minutes. This is both to check on the progress of the ribs and so you can remove the fat drippings from the sheet pan to prevent grease spills.
When you bake pork spare ribs in the oven, you should allow from one to two hours, depending on the amount of meat you have. You can test the ribs for doneness by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part. An internal temperature of 145° F (62.7° C) is a safe temperature for cooked pork.