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 at 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.
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Step 1: Choose Your Meat
Choose your pork riblets. 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.
Step 2: Store Riblets Safely
Store your pork riblets until you are ready to cook them. The USDA 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 zero degrees for up to six months, and thawed in the refrigerator just before use.
Step 3: Season Your Meat
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.
Be mindful of sodium content in your rub — the American Heart Association recommends a daily intake of no more than 2,300 milligrams.
Step 4: Rub with Liquid Smoke
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.
Step 5: Cover and Refrigerate
Cover the rack of riblets in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Step 6: Preheat the Oven
Position the oven rack to the middle and set the oven to "Bake" at 250 F, letting it preheat.
Step 7: Prep the Riblets
Take the riblets from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap.
Step 8: Cover in Foil
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 your riblets in the preheated oven.
Step 9: Bake for Several Hours
Bake the pork riblets for three to four hours until done. Use a meat thermometer to test the temperature of the riblets where thickest.
The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service states that pork should reach 145 F when completely cooked.
Step 10: Rest and Serve
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.
Things You'll Need
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
You can make a spicier dry rub by also adding 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon white pepper and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the dry rub mix.