Manly Sportsball Food: Spareribs

With the Superb Owl coming up in New York New Jersey at Giants MetLife Stadium, I thought it would be appropriate to do a post on some appropriate food to eat with Your Bros during The Big Game. Naturally, any food you eat while watching big men crash into each other needs to be meaty, messy food you eat with your hands. So why not Zoidberg ribs?

This recipe comes to me from my dad. I’m pretty sure he just made it up one day thirty-something years ago. I consider it the canonical recipe for barbecue spareribs. The meat is tender without falling apart and the sauce is spicy and tangy and sweet, but doesn’t overpower the flavor of the pork. They’re really good ribs, but before someone from The South gets offended…

Let’s Talk About Barbecue

Barbecue is a religion for some people (mostly southerners), and like most religions, it has a lot of rules and a lot of sects. Texas barbecue is often sauce-less and usually beef. St. Louis and Memphis like pork ribs, and the Carolinas do pulled pork with mustard sauce. There’s a lot of variation, but there’s one thing they all have in common. The one rule that absolutely cannot be broken is this: barbecue is smoked meat. Grilling is not barbecuing (and anyone who puts ribs on a grill is a fool). Tough meat slathered with Sweet Baby Ray’s and cooked over a hot fire is not barbecue. Anything that was cooked in a Crock Pot is not barbecue. Barbecue cooks slowly over low, smokey coals. The recipe that follows is not barbecue; it’s spareribs roasted in barbecue sauce. Because it cooks for a decent amount of time over relatively low heat (compared to a grill anyway), it gets a decent texture (and you can always cook it lower and slower). The liquid smoke gives it smokey flavor, but it will never compare to the real deal. Now that that’s out of the way…

The Recipe

This recipe is for a half rack of ribs. Double the sauce for a full rack. I made four ribs with it and had leftover sauce, which is good for everything that barbecue sauce is good for (try it on chicken).

Servings: 3(ish)

Time: 2 hours (ish)


  • Roasting pan
  • Dry and liquid measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Basting brush
  • Medium saucepan
  • A tolerant smoke-detector


  • 1/2 rack of spareribs, not baby back ribs, and for the love of God, not “country style ribs,” which aren’t ribs at all (about 1.5-2 lb)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbl dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp onion powder (or 2 Tbl chopped fresh onion)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp garlic powder (or 2-3 cloves, minced)
  • 1 Tbl Liquid Smoke
  • 3 Tbl Worcestershire sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 500F.
  2. Using a knife, split the rack of ribs up into individual ribs and place them in the roasting pan in a single layer.
    Ribs In the Oven

    You Gotta Keep ’em Separated

  3. Cook the ribs for 15 minutes. While they’re cooking, stir together the remaining ingredients in the saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer.
    Barbecue Sauce

    My stove contains an arc reactor

  4. After the ribs have baked for 15 minutes, drain the grease from the pan and brush the ribs with some sauce.
    Ribs, Now With Less Fat

    Now with Less Fat!

  5. Turn the oven down to 325F and return the ribs to the oven. Bake the ribs for at least an hour and 40 minutes, brushing with sauce every 20 minutes (that’s at least 5 bastings).
    Ribs after the third saucing

    Ribs after the third saucing

  6. Serve at halftime with cole slaw or corn on the cob and baked beans or garlic bread.

    Notice that the sauce gets cooked into a dark, sticky delicious coating



  1. As a new North Carolinian, I feel obligated to mention that your barbecue disclaimer is WRONG. That mustard crap is a South Carolina thing. In NC, there is Western (tomato-based) and Eastern (vinegar-based) style BBQ, and hot damn it’s delicious. You got the pork part right though!

    These look super delicious, by the way. I think you should come make me some. That seems reasonable. =)

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