When summer rolls around, cooking ribs on the barbecue becomes a favorite pastime of many grill-masters. Pork riblets, or babyback ribs, are the smallest cut of ribs, coming from the back loin section of the pig, and are meatier and less fatty than other cuts. You don't have to wait for warm weather to enjoy a juicy rack of pork riblets; they can be prepared in the oven any time of year. To make tender ribs, it all comes down to slow cooking, which can be done just as easily using your oven in place of the grill.
Choose your pork riblets. "The Joy of Cooking" recommends planning 1 pound of riblets per person. Select ribs that are meaty with only a small amount of fat overlaying them. Fresh pork should appear grayish-pink and have no strong odor.
Store your pork riblets until you are ready to cook them. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends storing the ribs in the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit for up to five days after purchase. They can also be stored in the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit up to six months, and thawed in the refrigerator just before use.
Prepare the dry rub. In a small bowl, combine the kosher salt, granulated garlic, granulated onion, black pepper and paprika and set to one side.
Rub the Liquid Smoke into the riblets, followed by 1 teaspoon of dry rub to both the top and bottom of the ribs. Liquid Smoke gives the riblets a grilled flavor and helps the dry rub adhere.
Cover the rack of riblets in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Position the oven rack to the middle and set the oven to "Bake" at 250 degrees Fahrenheit, letting it preheat.
Take the riblets from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap.
Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil and place the riblets on top. Cover the pork riblets and pan with aluminum foil and place in the preheated oven.
Bake the pork riblets for 3 to 4 hours until done. Use a meat thermometer to test the temperature of the riblets where thickest. The USDA states pork should reach 145 degrees when completely cooked.
Remove the pan from the oven using pot holders. Let the riblets rest covered for 10 minutes and then remove the foil. Use a sharp knife to slice the riblets into individual servings and place them on a platter. Serve the riblets as desired.
- "The Joy of Cooking"; Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer, Ethan Becker; 1997
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Fresh Pork....From Farm to Table; May 2011
- One Perfect Bite: Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs; September 2009
- Food.com: Rib Dry Rub