First, I need to start with a cautionary tale. I was all set to prepare the following feast one Sunday afternoon. With all the ingredients lined up, I unwrapped our spare ribs and…

..they were still partially frozen. Le sigh.

One option was to move forward with the prep work and hope the ribs would thaw and come to room temperature by the time I was ready to put them in the oven. However, after recently attempting to spatchcock and then skillet roast a chicken that hadn’t quite made the transition, I chose to be patient with the ribs, and we bumped them down the menu into the weekdays.

We have adjusted our meal planning and cooking habits to accommodate the need to thaw our meat well in advance of its useful date. This has been a big shift for us and we are practicing the right thawing times for our various cuts.  We plan to cover some thawing best (and worst) practices in a future post.

We have tried spare ribs in the dutch oven with an asian sauce that was mediocre. We have also tried a low-and-slow (210 deg. low) indoor method. While the flavor was fantastic, there was very little left on the ribs to enjoy.  In searching for a recipe for our third try, I went digging in our cookbooks. James Villas won me over with a Natural-State hat tip, beating out Julia Child, Harold McGhee, and The Junior League of Little Rock with this recipe for Arkansas Black Barbecued Back Ribs excerpted from Pig: King of the Southern Table.

I really liked how well the spare ribs held up through this recipe. The meat was tender, juicy, and easy to pull from the bone, but it kept its thickness and body. Each rib felt like a hearty portion of meat. The sauce is familiar, but not bland. In fact, as written, some may find it a bit spicy. Ingredients below, with a step-by-step in the captions.

1 package Grass Roots Spare Ribs
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

For the Sauce:
1/4 cup each of:
white vinegar, water, ketchup, and dark brown sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder