For some families, lean baby back and spare ribs have a vaunted place on the dinner menu, so it’s no wonder if you want to cook them carefully to reach that benchmark of perfection: Until the meat falls off the bone in a mass of tender and juicy clumps, with just a bit of crispiness on the outer edges. You can attain this benchmark as long as you bake ribs as they were intended: Slow and easy, or for about four hours, to seal in the moistness and flavor.
Slow and Easy Oven Method
Set your oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a large roasting pan with nonfat vegetable spray.
Place the ribs face down in the roasting pan with tongs. Season them lightly. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake the ribs for two hours.
Remove the ribs from the oven and remove the foil slowly and carefully; the steam from inside will be very hot. Drain any fat from the roasting pan. Turn the ribs over, season them lightly, cover and return the pan to the oven.
Select your preferred saucing method. At the 3 1/2-hour mark, you can remove the ribs from the oven and baste them with a thin layer of barbecue sauce, let them bake for 15 minutes, uncovered, and then baste them again and cook them for another 15 minutes. Allowing the barbecue sauce to penetrate the meat for a total of 30 minutes might suit your palette just fine. If you prefer a more charred finish on your ribs, remove the ribs from the oven at the 3 3/4-hour mark and set your oven to “broil.” Baste the ribs and return them to the oven. Repeat this step at least once more until the ribs are covered with the desired amount of sauce and reach the desired level of crispiness.
Remove the ribs from the oven when they’re done baking and cover them loosely with the aluminum foil. Let the ribs settle for about 10 minutes before slicing.
Slow and Easy Slow-Cooker Method
Tenderize your ribs in a slow cooker by first slicing them into small, two- or three-bone sections. This will make it easier for the ribs to cook and easier for you to turn them at the halfway point.
Set your cooker to “low.” Add water to the cooker. Add the ribs, arranging them in a crisscross manner; do not stack them on top of each other.
Drain any fat from the slow cooker after four hours. Rearrange the ribs in the pot so that you move the top pieces to the bottom and vice versa.
Pour barbecue sauce over the ribs at the 7-hour mark. Check the cooker again 30 minutes later and add more sauce, if you like.
Turn the slow cooker to “off” after eight hours. Let the ribs sit for 10 minutes before serving.