A big thank you to everyone who participated in my OXO recipe contest! I received many wonderful recipes but these baby back ribs with an Asian flair won me over. Slow-baked in a delicious hoisin barbecue sauce until the meat falls off the bone, they’re some of the best ribs I’ve ever tasted. Congrats to Ellen from McLean, Virginia for submitting the recipe!
The recipe is easy, you just have to think ahead because the ribs need a long time to marinate and cook.
Begin by preparing the meat. The first step is to remove the membrane that coats the underside of the ribs. If possible, ask your butcher to do this for you. Otherwise, loosen it with a butter knife and peel it off. If you’re lucky, it will come off in one piece. Sometimes it’s a little stubborn; if it shreds, you’ll have to pull it off in bits and pieces. This ensures the ribs will be nice and tender.
Next, trim away any excess fat or flaps of meat. Ellen suggests trimming any scrappy meat off the ends of the racks and scraping away any large areas of fat. The smaller areas of fat will render during the cooking process and also add flavor and moisture. Finally, cut the racks in half so they’re easier to handle.
Make the barbecue sauce. Be sure to use a good quality hoisin sauce such as Kikkoman or Lee Kum Kee; it’s the main ingredient and makes a big difference.
Place the ribs on a baking sheet lined with heavy duty aluminum foil. (The foil is important, otherwise you’ll be soaking the pan for days afterward.) Reserve some of the sauce and use the rest to coat the ribs. Cover the pan tightly with foil and let marinate for at least four hours or overnight.
Cook the ribs in a low oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until just tender.
Baste generously with the reserved sauce, then turn up the heat and finish cooking for about 30 minutes more.
Let cool slightly, then slice into individual ribs and enjoy. They’re sticky and messy — in a good way — so serve with plenty of napkins!
One last note: Ellen says these ribs are also delicious finished on the grill. After cooking them in the oven for 1½ hours, she throws them on the grill, basting occasionally with the reserved barbecue sauce. I didn’t try it myself but imagine it’s very good.
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Oven Baby Back Ribs with Hoisin BBQ Sauce
- 2 racks baby back pork ribs (4-5 pounds), membrane removed (see note below)
- 1 cup hoisin sauce, best quality such as Kikkoman or Lee Kum Kee
- 1/2 cup chili sauce (preferably Heinz)
- 2-1/2 tablespoons dry Sherry
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (use gluten-free if needed)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- Make the hoisin barbecue sauce by combining all of the ingredients except for the ribs in a medium bowl.
- Trim any excess fat or flaps of meat and cut racks in half into 6- to 7-rib sections. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil. Place the rib racks on the baking sheet. Reserve 1 cup of the sauce and pour the rest over the rib racks. Coat both sides of racks evenly with sauce and arrange in a single layer, meaty sides up. Cover tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil and refrigerate for a minimum of four hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Place the covered ribs in the oven and bake, undisturbed, for 1½ hours. Remove the ribs from the oven and carefully remove the foil (the steam will be very hot and can burn). Using a pastry brush or back of a spoon, coat the racks generously with the reserved barbecue sauce. Turn the oven heat up to 350 degrees. Return pan to the oven, uncovered, and cook until the ribs are tender and starting to brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool briefly before cutting in-between the ribs to serve.
- Note: Ask your butcher to remove the white membrane on the underside of the ribs. If you need to remove it yourself, loosen it at the edge with a butter knife and peel it off (if it's slippery, grab it with a paper towel). Note that there appears to be another layer of membrane underneath the one you remove; you shouldn't remove it as it's what holds the meat and bones together.