This spice rub, built on a base of warm, sultry cocoa punctuated with ancho chile powder, mustard, ginger, and cinnamon, would make a great rub for other meats or even as a base for chili, but it sings once it melds with fatty, tender, crisp spare ribs. I’m a dedicated griller and would love these cooked over charcoal, but our wind chill is currently in the negative teens and moving downward, and I have no desire to maintain charcoal at the appropriate temperature in that mess. Fortunately, spare ribs take well to a low and slow oven, so this is an ideal way to get your rib fix in the dead of winter.
Cocoa Rubbed Oven Baked Spare Ribs
1/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder (Droste is a good choice here)
1 Tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 Tablespoon granulated onion powder
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
1 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground black peppercorns
1-2 racks of pork spare ribs (this recipe makes enough spice rub for 2 racks)
1. Combine all of the ingredients except for the ribs in a resealable jar and stir until thoroughly combined.
2. Place each rack of ribs on its own sheet of plastic wrap. Generously rub the ribs on both sides with the spice rub, pressing the rub into the meat, and then wrap them tightly in the plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 8 and up to 24 hours.
3. When you’re ready to cook the ribs, preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Place a metal rack on a baking sheet (use two sheets if you’re making two racks), then place the ribs on the rack and place in the oven. Roast for 2 1/2 hours, making sure to wrap the ribs in foil after about an hour into cooking to avoid drying (this is a lot easier than it sounds). Once the ribs are done, you can either uncover them and pop them under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp them and then let them rest for 10-15 minutes before serving, or you can skip the broiler, keep them wrapped in foil for 10-15 minutes, and then serve.