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Boneless Pork Spareribs

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I'm tried to do a recipe that was on Top Chef that was done by Anita Lo, Barbecued Boneless Stuffed Spareribs. They have the recipe on the website (although I don't have sufficient posts to put a link in)

Anyways, I'm having problems with pulling out the bones. The recipe says to have the spareribs in the oven until meat pulls away from the bone. I'm not too familiar with baking spareribs so about how long should it take in a 350 degree oven?

Also I'm not sure how I would butcher the ribs to ease in this process. Would I have to make sure the cartilage pieces are all off? Because usually the meat sticks to cartilage more so than bone.
post #2 of 6
I'm not exactly sure how long it would take at 350F for baby back spare ribs (BBs) to cook so the bones come out easily. At 275, it's about 3 to 3-1/2 hours if the BBs are covered or wrapped during the cooking time. So, at 350F, probably about 2 to 2-1/4 hours, but I can't guarantee that.

What I can guarantee is that if you cook them long enough, the meat will, indeed, "fall off the bone" without much trouble. You'll want to keep them covered or wrapped for at least the last half of the process, up to the last few minutes, not only to hasten it but to keep the meat from drying out.

There's very little to do when it comes to trimming BBs, other than removing the thin, transparent membrane the butcher may or may not have left on the back. Do this by loosening the mebrane at one corner of the slab with a butter knife or something else dull. Then grab the membrane with a paper towel (?!) which will give you a non-slip grip (aha!).

Don't do anything about the cartilage sheaths which hold the meat to the bones. They will soften and shrink during the cooking process. FWIW, and with great respect for Chef Lo, the process is usually better done at a lower temperature over a longer time. 300F for 2-1/2 to 3 hours should be good.

Fair warning though. When the bones come out easily, the meat will fall apart even more easily. That's why the judging standard in competition barbecue calls for "pull," as opposed to "fall off the bone." Competitiors call the latter, "sack of mush."

There's not much of a time range between the moment the bones will come out, and the meat decides disintegration is its best option. So, you're going to have to watch that pretty carefully, and check to see if the bones will wiggle in their socket every ten minutes or so, when you near the finish. The best visual cue for when to start checking is the meat shrinking away from the ends of the bones in the middle of the slab.

Welcome to ribs,
post #3 of 6
I concur with everything BDL says.

At 250F, ribs will reach the pull stage in about 2 1/2 hours. So, at 350F I'd certainly start checking at no more than 2 hours, and likely earlier than that.

This assumes you are cooking them dry, as you would when grilling. Charlie Trotter has a recipe in which they are braised to the fall-off-the-bone stage. With the braising liquid, at 300F, they take 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

One thing I don't understand (and I haven't seen the Anita Loo recipe) is if you cook to the falling-off-the-bone stage, what's left to be stuffed? At that point you have the equivilent of pulled pork. On the other hand, if you just cook them to the pull stage, when you remove the bones there will be pockets left behind to hold the filling.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #4 of 6
Where does BBQ come into this? Baked is not BBQ. BDL and KYH are right about doneness levels.
post #5 of 6
It seems the recipe is not for baby back ribs, but for something like "St Louis style} trimmed spare ribs (chine and tips removed, Lo didn't mention the "flap"), Barbecued Boneless Stuffed Spareribs with Kohlrabi and Thai Basil - Recipe Finder | Bravo TV Official Site. BBs and spares are not quite the same thing.

Even so, I'm still a little leery of cooking ribs, whether BBs or spares, at 350F. It's a good idea to handle "the new pork," pretty gently. Lo might use something fatter and more tolerant of aggressive cooking like kurobata, tamworth, or another uber heritage breed, instead of the the lumpen supermarket swine we mortals are cursed with.

I brought up comp judging to illustrate the difference between a little, desirable "pull" and "fall off the bone" mushiness. You have to tread a narrow path to get the bones out while retaining enough integrity in the meat so it can be stuffed. Spares are a little, but not much, more forigiving in that sense than BBs.

In the past I had a narrow definition of what is and isn't "real" barbecue, but have loosened up considerably. In this case, Lo calls it "barbecue." So why not?

post #6 of 6
Thanks for posting the link, BDL. Makes things easier to understand.

Yeah, those are St. Louis types. And the OP did say spareribs. Presumably both the membrane and flap were removed along with the knuckle tips, although she doesn't specify.

Putting aside the high temperature, it turns out that she doesn't say to cook until falling off the bone. Her directions are: until bones start to come away from the meat. I read that to mean the same as when you described pull over mush.

I am concerned, though, given the amount of fish sauce being used, that the whole dish might be on the salty side. For those not familiar with it, fish sauce, in general, is about three times as salty as soy sauce. So there's an awful lot of salt element in that dish. But perhaps the kohlrabi salad cuts some of it?
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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