Although it’s way too hot now to be doing this in the city, I offer up this rib-riff/rib-rant to the meat eaters out there.
On the island where the cool ocean breezes waft through the kitchen windows, no one gives a second thought to leaving the oven on for three hours while dinner slowly comes to full maturity. I know, I know – what decent American would prepare ribs in so mechanical and modern a method. Well, I would because while on vacation my intent is to stay on the beach near the ocean as much as possible and away from hot burners, smokers, pits and ovens. No easier method of preparation is so form fitting for ribs than a long, slow, low roast in the oven with a quick finish at the end on the grill. The end product so perfectly slips from the bones with barely a tug and the tender, juicy meat flavored with little more than salt and pepper just melts in the mouth.
Some cooks suggest boiling ribs before grilling, or slow grilling them over indirect heat after complicated rubs and seasonings. I’ve tried these recipes and haven’t achieved the success that results from the following:
Find some pork ribs. Use really expensive hand-cut butcher ribs. Buy Cosco cheap ribs. Slaughter the pig in the fall and use those ribs. Drive down to Ralphs and take them right out of the meat case. The point is – just get some nice, fresh, standard issue pork, baby-back ribs – at least four or five racks. (You’ll wish you had made seven or eight, trust me).
Line as many shallow baking pans as necessary to accommodate the racks in one layer with aluminium foil. Yes, that’s right aluminium. Javier Lowera taught me to roast meat and this is how he pronounced it. Lay out the racks in the lined pans and sprinkle both sides generously with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Cover the lined pans with another sheet of aluminium foil to seal the pans. (This creates a sealed environment for the roasting and preserves the flavors and moisture of the ribs). Be sure the foil seals tight around the sides of the pans.
Start a slow 300 degree oven – no hotter- and slide the pans into the oven and walk away.
If there is a beach nearby – get as close to the ocean as possible without getting wet and with a shovel and several small children, sculpt a sand figure in the shape of a ten foot rotund, reclining nude woman to the shock of all present. Two and a half to three hours later, walk back to the house and turn off the oven. Walk away again and start some other kind of mischief.
One hour later, remove the ribs from the cool oven, take the ribs out of the pans, drain off the fat, recycle the aluminium and store the ribs in the ice box until dinner time. When it’s time to eat, slather the ribs in your favorite bar-b-que sauce and grill them over direct heat until they start to char – not too long or you’ll ruin all the work you’ve not done all day.
Serve the ribs with lots of paper towels and cold beer. Again – you’re a hero to all who eat your food.