Plenty of rib enthusiasts mistakenly believe that only a grill or smoker is an appropriate preparation method for juicy, tender ribs. Little do they know that an oven can also yield delicious ribs, and both conventional thermal ovens and convection ovens will do. A convection oven works by using fans and an exhaust system to constantly circulate hot air around food while it cooks. This method won't necessarily speed up the cooking process for your favorite ribs, but it's a convenient way to cook this dish indoors without sacrificing flavor.
Basics of Preparing Ribs
In terms of adjusting your recipe, making ribs in a convection oven doesn't require any special or unusual preparation. The most important thing is making sure the rack of ribs you buy isn't too big for your oven. Other than that, feel free to use your favorite seasonings or marinade. Use a broiler pan or foil to hold the ribs, as dripping juices could burn in the oven.
Something to consider when choosing a marinade or recipe is that unlike a grill or smoker, there's no smoke element involved when you're making ribs in convection ovens. So, if that traditional smoky barbecue flavor is important to you and the people you're serving, you'll want to add it through smoked paprika or liquid smoke. Smoky barbecue sauce will also help mask the fact that the ribs were cooked in a convection oven instead of in the backyard.
Ribs in Convection Ovens: Method
The method for making ribs in convection ovens is basically the same as making ribs in any oven. The trickiest part about preparing ribs this way is that it may require a bit of trial and error before you figure out the exact combination of timing and temperature that yields ribs just the way you like them. Personal preference is big here; how long you keep the ribs covered in foil affects how tender and/or chewy they are, for example.
Start by baking the ribs for about 20 to 30 minutes in a 350-degree-Fahrenheit convection oven, meat side up. Lower the heat to 225 degrees, wrap the ribs in foil and let them cook for about three hours. (Some people may want to use foil for less time or skip it altogether.)
Finally, take out the ribs and brush them with a thin layer of barbecue sauce or a glaze of your choosing. Turn the convection oven to broil if such an option exists or raise the temperature to 350 degrees if it doesn't. Bake the ribs for an additional five minutes or until the sauce lightly bubbles.
Tips for Convection Oven Ribs
It's important to recognize that there's a lot of variation in convection ovens. If you split a batch of ribs between a dedicated convection oven and a countertop toaster/convection oven, the results could be very different even if you cooked them at exactly the same rate. Check whether your model includes a recipe book with specific instructions.
Especially if you're using a countertop convection oven, watch the ribs carefully after putting on a glaze or sticky sauce. Sugar tends to burn quickly in small ovens, and the glaze could get scorched while you're not looking.
Want to adjust a recipe for oven-roasted ribs to work with your convection oven? A good rule of thumb is to lower the temperature by 25 degrees. If the recipe calls for cooking ribs in a 275-degree oven, for example, set your convection oven to 250 degrees.