That handsome Dutchman that I call my husband is taking over today. He is going to rub the heck out of some ribs and show you just how easy it can be! Let’s get to some rib-rubbin’. Delicious. Take it away, Peter.
There’s something very American about ribs. There’s something very Dutch about my family. As such, there wasn’t much crossover between the two and I grew up on a generally rib-free diet (that consisted more of chocolate and cheese than animal parts). This absence of barbecue (outside of simple things like hamburgers) made the whole concept of roasting and smoking meats intimidating.
To put things in perspective, the Dutch are traditionally known for two kinds of food: pancakes and fries (pannekoeken and frites). Not necessarily together, though I can’t promise I’ve never walked down this indulgent path. And through years of historical entanglement, the Dutch have close ties to Indonesia. Thus our dinner table was covered in Nasi Goreng and Atjar Tjampoer, or otherwise with hagelslaag (chocolate sprinkles on toast).
With such sweet and savory delicacies at my fingertips, it’s no wonder I never dabbled with barbecuing. Barbecuing (without the memories of flavor embedded in your mind, dreaming of your chin covered in sauce, belly extended from overuse) takes a long time and seems complicated offhand.
As I got older and learned I couldn’t eat sprinkles for every meal* (*bold faced lie, I never learned that), I had the pleasure of eating a rack of unbelievable ribs from an old LA establishment. I’d dabbled with ribs from other places, but my true love and appreciation grew out of this single, savory experience. Yet making my own ribs still seemed an impossibility.
But through a series of curious events last summer, Gina and I ended up with a freezer full of organic meat. This included pounds of ribs, glaring at me through the appliance door, daring me to try and make them taste good. When expressing this conundrum to a coworker, he presented me the rule of threes: 300 degrees for three hours. Simple. It’s really just a matter of figuring out how to spice and rub the meat that’s the trick, though I daresay (if you taste it along the way), you’ll be hard pressed to screw these up.
Rib rubs are all about testing and picking flavors you enjoy to mesh together for the perfect blend of sweet and spicy. Me? I start with a lot of brown sugar for sweetness (hagelslaag gets too melty) and build up salt and spice from there. There’s a handful of spices you can tinker with, so feel free to get a little creative. You can find the recipe for the rub that I created this time around below, along with a couple other suggestions.
On one occasion Gina and I had a “rib-off,” which was simply cooking two slabs of ribs with different rubs, and picking a winner based on how good the end result was. Spoiler: we both won (though if we’re going by high scores, our cholesterol won).
The real lesson here is that you don’t need to be intimidated by long cook times or animal parts. All it takes it a little experimentation (and a few hours of free time).
Delicious! Now sit back, admire your pile of bones, and revel in your high placement on the food chain. Carnivores, am I right?
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Three Hour Sweet & Spicy Ribs
- 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 Tsp Pepper
- 2 Tsp Salt
- 2 Tsp Garlic Powder
- 2 Tsp Chili Powder
- 1/4 Tsp Red Pepper (Cayenne)
- 2 Tsp Paprika
- (Gina suggests also tinkering with cumin, red pepper flakes and steak seasoning. The possibilities are endless.)
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
- Mix all the spices together in a bowl. Taste just a dab of the mixture to see if it’s too your liking. Remember, after roasting for three hours, it’ll be slightly diminished and cooked into the meat, so try to make it slightly sweeter and spicier than you might like if you were to take a spoon to the bowl of spices (also a possibility -- maybe on toast with sprinkles). But the real key here is experimentation. Taste and adjust. Repeat.
- Now grab your ribs. Give them a quick rinse and pat them dry. This will make them a little more sticky so the rub will stick to its, um, ribs. Cover the meat on all sides, including the ends. Then, wrap it up in tin foil, with the fatty side on top. This way, when it starts to heat up and roast, the fat will drip down and cover the rest of the meat in unbelievable flavors. Pop your wrapped-up ribs into the oven and start waiting. I don’t recommend staring, but walking in and out of your home (which now smells entirely like ribs), is a good way to pass the time.
- When you have about 30 minutes left, go ahead and light your barbecue (or 10 minutes if you have a gas grill). When that delicious buzzer finally sounds, carefully unwrap your ribs and place them on the hot grill to finish them. They’ll already be falling off the bone, so if you lose one, don’t fret. The barbecuing is just to put a nice char on the outside, get a little extra smoky flavor, and prep them to enter your belly.
- Once you simply can’t take it anymore (and you’ve cooked some clean BBQ lines into the meat), pull them from the grill and serve with a nice salad (and maybe some frites). With that much prep time (mainly waiting, smelling), make sure you take the time to really enjoy the complex flavor you just created.