BBQ spareribs are a big favorite of mine. They are expensive at restaurants and usually disappointing. The barbecue afficionado will argue that they must be smoked low and slow on a wood-burning grill, but time and weather do not always permit cooking them the tried and true way. My oven method is as easy as pie and only takes a couple of hours.
I came up with this delicious barbecue sauce to top them. The combination of pomegranate juice and balsamic vinegar gives the sauce a nice tang. It literally goes together in a matter of minutes. You might want to make up a batch to keep in the refrigerator as a condiment. The recipe is easily doubled. If you are feeling adventurous, you can vary the sauce recipe by using different fruit juices, such as orange or pineapple. If you like your sauce spicy, simply add liquid hot sauce or ground roasted chipotle powder to taste.
Pomegranate Oven BBQ Spareribs Recipe
1 Tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (not table salt)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided use
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
4 to 5 pounds pork spareribs
Pomegranate Balsamic BBQ Sauce:
1/2 medium-sized sweet onion, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
You will need a large, shallow roasting pan big enough to hold the spareribs in one layer. (Cut the slab of ribs, if necessary to make them fit.) Line the pan with heavy-duty foil. Place a baking rack in the bottom of the pan. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Whisk together paprika, salt, onion powder, 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder, pepper, oregano, basil, and thyme. Season the spareribs on both sides with this spice mixture. Place ribs in the prepared pan, meaty side up. Bake for 1 hour.
While the ribs are baking, prepare the barbecue sauce. Place a medium-sized saucepan over low heat. When hot, coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Gently saute the onions until softened and translucent. Do not brown. Add balsamic vinegar, and cook until the vinegar has reduced by one-third. Whisk in pomegranate juice, tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and Dijon mustard. Stir in brown sugar and remaining 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 1 hour, remove spareribs from the oven and carefull pour off any accumulated fat. Turn the ribs and baste (I prefer a silicone basting brush) the bottom (bony) side with the sauce. Turn the ribs back to meaty-side up. Baste liberally with the sauce. (You should have about half of the sauce left. Reserve extra sauce.) Cover the pan with foil and return to the oven. Bake another additional 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until the meat shrinks back from the bones. The bones should easily wiggle in the meat. (See Notes.)
Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into 2- to 3-rib pieces and serve with remaining barbecue sauce on the side.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
• If you like a char on your spareribs, put them under the broiler for a few minutes, but watch them closely. The high sugar content of the BBQ sauce can burn easily.
• To remind you even more of outdoor grilled ribs, try adding a bit of mesquite-flavored Liquid Smoke to the BBQ sauce. Add 1/4 teaspoon at a time until it suits your taste.