Weekly Cooking Project: Attempting Oven-Baked Spare Ribs

Although I cook a lot more simply at home now, I want to embark on at least one new cooking project each week.

These posts will differ from my typical home cooking posts. Some may be wins, while others might not turn out so well. I’ll share what I learn and hope that no matter what happens, the joy will always remain in the journey.

I’ve loved eating ribs since I was little. Growing-up, we typically ate at home, but our parents took us out for meals as a treat. Where ever we went, I’d order ribs if the restaurant offered them.

I haven’t made ribs for years and the last rack didn’t turn out so well. When I saw a recipe from a local blogger for oven-baked ribs with spicy African peanut sauce, I knew it was time to try again.

The day I decided to prepare the ribs was cold and snowy, so I was limited to grocery shopping at one store. I found unsweetened peanut butter in the organic section and only one variety of pork ribs; a pre-sealed package of Hormel spare ribs.

The recipe also calls for berbere, a spicy Ehtiopian seasoning. Once you try berbere, you’ll find its flavor unmistakable. It’s of my favorite flavors.

Berbere is available from specialty spice stores like Penzey’s and Allspice in Des Moines, IA. You can also find it in Ethiopian Markets in the Twin Cities. My friend once took me to purchase berbere at a store in the Seward Neighborhood of Minneapolis.

If you are like me and can’t find berbere in your community, there are plenty of recipes for making your own (example on Daring Gourmet). They vary but seem to include at least 15 spices like hot pepper, paprika, fenugreek, cardamom, cinnamon, and cumin, among others. I had most of these spices, so I tried to recreate as berbere-esque flavor as possible.

I added these spices along with Hot Madras Curry powder to my peanut butter sauce until it tasted like berbere along with sugar since the peanut butter was unsweetened and soy sauce for depth.

Per Danelle’s suggestion, I baked the ribs on a foil-lined sheet pan for 45 minutes at 350 degrees F. Then, I flipped them over, added sauce, and baked for another 45 minutes.

I served them with collard greens with caramelized onions, garlic, and hot pepper, cooked with some reduced honey and soy sauce.

Here’s The Finished Meal:

What Worked:

  • Love the idea of coating ribs in a peanut sauce. 
  • Peanut sauce + spicy curry is fantastic. The idea of adding berbere is even better.
  • I know I can make easily prepare spare ribs in the oven.
  • The cooking method. The ribs were tender and juicy. 

    For Next Time:
    • Purchase berbere spice mix. 
    • Don’t burn the peanut sauce!
    • Find different ribs: These were packed in a salty brining solution. Unfortunately, I noticed this after the ribs had been seasoned and were baking in the oven. They tasted way too salty because I had seasoned them as if they weren’t already brined. I’m sure I can find these through a local farmer or by asking the butcher department.

      You should stick to Danelle’s recipe for now. I know I will when I try again.

      Click here for a recipe I often use for collard greens that’s included in one my earliest blog posts. As you can see, I must have been quite riled up about something that happened on Top Chef several years ago. 


      1. Val

        Looks good! I look forward to seeing your other cooking challenges in 2014.

      2. Jeni Flaa

        Thanks Val! Same to you. I think it will be fun to do something a little different than my normal recipe posts and write about the learning process.

      3. Danelle Stamps

        Wow! Thanks for the mention! 🙂 So glad it worked for you!

      4. Jeni Flaa

        I’m excited to try it again. We love spicy peanut sauces.

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