It's possible to cook ribs in your oven to give them the type of smoky flavor usually only associated with outdoor grills or smokers. But you'll need to use a different method than what typical oven-baked rib recipes call for, says "New York Times" food writer and cookbook author Mark Bittman. You can oven-smoke baby back ribs or spare ribs; baby back ribs are more tender, but spare ribs have more flavorful meat. Whichever you choose, be aware that ribs are high in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. To include them in a balanced diet, eat them infrequently.
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Preparing the Ribs
Place salt, pepper and your choice of seasonings in a small bowl, choosing from flavorings such as cumin, regular or smoked paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder or powdered herbs like rosemary. Stir thoroughly to combine.
Coat the entire rack of ribs with the seasoning mixture. Lightly wrap the rack with plastic wrap.
Place the ribs in the refrigerator. Allow them to rest, undisturbed, for one hour to overnight.
Using Wood Chips
Place an even layer of oak or hickory wood chips into the bottom of a large roasting pan. Add enough water to barely cover the chips.
Put the roasting pan's rack in place over the wood chips. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator, discard the plastic wrap and position it on the rack.
Make a tent around all sides of the roasting pan using aluminum foil, leaving enough space over the ribs to allow steam to circulate. Crimp the foil's edges together tightly to seal the tent.
Bake until the meat is tender, planning on approximately three hours for 2 to 3 pounds of ribs cooked at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
Using Liquid Smoke
Fill the bottom of a large roasting pan with several cups of water. Add liquid smoke, using about 3 tablespoons for every 2 cups of water used. Stir to combine thoroughly.
Put the pan's rack over the water. Place the prepared ribs onto the rack.
Cover the top of the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until the rib meat is tender: Allow around four hours for a full rack of ribs cooked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.