Forget barbecue for ribs, bake them instead and serve with salsa verde

Baked ribs are the bane of barbecue evangelists. Sure, you can cook tender and juicy ribs in the oven, but unless actual smoke makes contact with the meat, it’s not the real thing. No amount of sticky-sweet barbecue sauce changes that fact.

But what if you weren’t interested in making barbecue at all? In other words: Why must every rib be a barbecue rib? Obviously, barbecue tastes great, but so do a lot of other cooking methods. Ribs have far more range than they’re usually given.

And what if you are planning to take in the Steelers’ first home game of the 2017-18 season, against the Minnesota Vikings, in the comforts of your home, and don’t want to fire up the grill? Then just turn on the oven to 225 degrees, and cook baby back ribs for 1½ hours after they marinate in a Spanish-style sauce — one made with paprika, pounded garlic and olive — which has a rustic red color and earthy depth.

Also, instead of a sugary sauce, these ribs call for something bright and zesty, exactly the sort of thing that salsa verde lends in spades. Handfuls of fresh and fragrant herbs, such as parsley, oregano and mint join bracing capers and red wine vinegar. Spoon the mixture over the meat, and you are good to go.

It’s not barbecue — and it’s not trying to be.

Spanish-Style Baked Ribs

2 slabs baby back ribs

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 teaspoons salt

½ cup olive oil

4 tablespoons Spanish paprika

Salsa verde (see recipe)

Remove the membrane on the back of the ribs.

Combine garlic and salt in a mortar, and smash with a pestle until a paste forms. Stir in olive oil and paprika. Rub ribs with the paste to coat all over; transfer ribs to a large covered container. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 225 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with a large piece of aluminum foil. Set the ribs on top, and then wrap them up. Bake, 1½ hours.

Remove pan from the oven. Unwrap the ribs; return pan to the oven until the ribs are very tender, but not falling off the bone, about 1½ hours. Serve with the salsa verde.

Makes 2 servings.

— Michael Austin, Chicago Tribune

Salsa Verde

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons capers, drained, minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl to combine. Set aside for at least half an hour before using.


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