Well-cooked spareribs or baby back ribs melt in the mouth with sweet flavor -- especially when coated with your favorite barbeque sauce. Although recipes differ, one thing they all have in common is slow cooking at a low temperature to retain the juicy tenderness of the meat. Because slow cooking enhances the flavor of pork ribs, oven baking is often the method of choice.
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Recipes for baking pork ribs vary in cooking time from two to four hours. The slow cooking retains the juice in the meat, enhances natural flavors and makes the meat tender. Because the ribs are either covered with barbecue sauce or cooked in a little water and covered with foil, the meat remains moist throughout the cooking process.
Cooking pork ribs for an extended period requires a low oven temperature, generally between 200 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Initially, adding a little water and covering the pan with foil keeps the meat moist. Once the meat is thoroughly cooked, uncovering the ribs and adding seasonings, such as barbecue sauce, to the ribs and increasing the temperature to 400 to 450 F allows the ribs to brown.
Techniques vary when it comes to when seasonings and barbecue sauce is added to the ribs. While some prefer to slow cook the ribs smothered in barbecue sauce, others prefer to start the ribs with a 1/2 inch of water and add the sauce when the ribs are browned. Both techniques produce tender ribs.
Layering the ribs in a single layer in the bottom of a baking pan allows the ribs to cook evenly, but they do need to be turned approximately halfway through the cooking time. Typically this means turning your ribs after the first hour or two of cooking. This further insures that the meat cooks evenly and thoroughly.
Barbecue sauces range from smoked to honey flavored with a wide variety of choices in between. Personal preferences is the best indicator of the sauce you should use. Consider your family's tastes when choosing a barbecue sauce for your oven-baked ribs.
Washing your hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling raw meat prevents contamination. Washing counters, utensils and any object that contacts the raw meat also helps to prevent the spread of bacteria. Pork must be cooked to at least 145 degrees and allowed to rest for four minutes before cutting to be consumed safely, according to Clemson University Extension.