One of the best gameday table centerpieces that you can easily make at home are oven spare ribs.
Baby back ribs are smaller, easier to work with, and provide less meat. I usually buy spare ribs, which usually weigh 3 to 3 1/2 pounds per rack, 11 to 13 ribs.
• Trim the racks of any raggedy pieces or flaps. (You can use that meat in a braise.) Cut racks in half. Spare ribs have a membrane in the inside (concave) side that you want to remove, if possible. Work a butter knife or screwdriver under one corner and use a paper towel to grip the loose corner, and pull.
Set oven at about 275 F.
• Sprinkle ribs liberally with spice rub of your choice. Here’s an easy one: Equal parts chili powder, salt, sugar, and granulated garlic, roughly a tablespoon of each for three racks of ribs.
• Put ribs in single layer on rimmed pan and cover with foil. Roast ribs, turning them every 30-60 minutes so they cook evenly. It’ll usually take 1 1/2 to 3 hours until they’re ready, depending on the size.
• They’re ready for the next step when you can easily slip a knife through the meat between the bones, it’s time for the glaze. (Or the meat should tear easily if you pull apart two rib bones.)
• Turn oven up to 350 F.
• Uncover ribs. Lay racks in single layer pan. Slather with favorite barbecue sauce every 20 minutes or so, until the glaze sets up and they’re as caramelized as you like. (You can go hotter and thus faster, but keep checking more often, or you could char them.)
• When a bite pulls tender meat off and leaves clean bone behind – which should happen after about 40 to 60 minutes in the oven – I know they’re ready. Cut between bones and serve with more sauce.
— Andrew Z. Galarneau