This won't excite BBQ purists who've spent endless hours perfecting their craft, but it works for people like me who enjoy BBQ at home w/o too much fuss. Of course, there ain't nothin' like sultry smoke flavor from a smoker, but my shortcut oven method still infused the meat w/ some soul.
What was most surprising and successful about this batch of pork ribs was the rub. I generally like to mix my own to have better control of freshness, balance, and complexity, but I remembered the good-sized bag of Penzeys medium hot chili powder I had in my cupboard and was going for ease. Ingredients sounded adequate for my rub: sweet ancho chili pepper, cayenne red pepper, paprika, cumin, garlic, and Mex. oregano. I took the liberty of adding a touch of brown sugar. Generously rubbed all over the rack and let marinate for two days in the fridge.
While the sauce my husband made to mop on at the end of baking was darn good (ketchup, molasses, liquid smoke, worcestershire, tabasco?), the rub is what made the ribs sing! Flavor was nicely layered...smoky, peppery w/ just the right amount of sweetness. Balance of three peppers was right on. Garlic and oregano weren't really detectable, more like backnote accents that rounded out the flavor. Proportion was better than any rub that I've tried to make. Another Penzeys product I really like!
Just in case you wondered how I oven baked these: After marinating in rub for a couple of days, bring meat close to room temp. On foil-lined baking sheet, bake uncovered in 250F oven for 1.5 hrs. Cover for 1.5 hrs. Make sauce. Uncover and baste w/ sauce every 10-15 min. til ribs are nicely coated and meat is tender and pulls away from the bone easily. This took about an hour, making total cooking time 4 hrs. I've heard that 6 is better, but I didn't have the time.
What's the secret in your rub?