Contrary to mythology, barbecue was not an American invention.
However, the microwave invented by Percy Spencer was.
Now, microwaves have come a long way since the production of the first Radarange microwave oven by Raytheon. This stood at over six foot tall, weighed 800lbs and cost an eye-watering $5000 (or $52,000 allowing for inflation).
It wasn’t until 1967 that the microwave became relatively affordable ($495) and reasonably sized.
It’s subjective to say, but chances are you would have been called crazy if you’d suggested in 1967 that a microwave could cook barbecue style ribs that would be as tasty and soft as those lifted from the coals.
We need to move with them.
There is little point in attempting to convince a barbecue aficionado that he should quit the coals. Barbecue meat is sublime.
However, it is not always practical or economical to start a fire. And, should you live in an area where sunshine is rare, your chances to fire up the barbie will be limited.
Your microwave is not subject to weather conditions nor will it leave you with a blackened mess that requires vigorous cleaning.
What it will do is cook you some tasty ribs in no time at all.
Follow these simple steps for pork that will fall off the bone and melt in your mouth.
Types Of Ribs
There are two types of ribs:
- Baby back ribs
- Spare ribs
Spare Ribs: These are bigger than baby-back ribs and hold a lot of meat. The spare rib is known as ‘the traditional rack of ribs’. These come from the belly of the pig. If you want St. Louis or Kansas City style ribs then you would need to perform a specific cut from the spare ribs. What you do is remove the rib-tops and a further 2 or 3 of the bones from the smaller end. This gives it a uniform look.
Baby Back Ribs: Depending on your location, this cut is called either back or loin Ribs. The cut comes from the same area where pork chops are located, the loin of the pig. While these ribs contain less meat than spare ribs, they come with little fat and are much tenderer. This tenderness is what makes baby ribs more expensive than spare.
Selecting The Best Ribs
Here are some basic pointers to ensure you get the best ribs…
- Choose slabs with good meat coverage and no large areas of fat
- Avoid buying ribs that are frozen
- Sidestep ribs that are off color or look dried out
- Avoid vacuum packed ribs
- Ask your butcher where the pigs were bred
Now it’s time to cook.
Ingredients You’ll Need – Serves 6
- 4lbs pork ribs
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 1 tsp hickory smoke salt
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp chili powder (optional)
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup hoisin sauce
- 2 tsp water
- 1 tsp cornstarch
Cooking The Ribs
What you must do first, regardless of whether you barbecue or microwave…
There is a stage to cooking ribs that most recipes leave out. The reason for the absence is time. What I am about to tell you will add 25 minutes to your cooking time but this is the crucial stage to ensure the softness of the meat.
You will need two tablespoons of malt vinegar and a pot big enough to take all the ribs.
Place the pan on your stove, put the ribs in with enough water to cover them and add the malt vinegar.
Keep the heat at medium-high. Do not boil the ribs.
Over the next 20 minutes, the ribs will secrete a scum-like foam which you’ll need to scoop out. You will have to monitor the ribs constantly for the 20 minutes. Do not go over the 20 minutes even if the ribs are still producing a little scum-foam. If you give them longer, chances are they will dry out.
After 20 minutes, drain the water and leave the ribs to cool. You do not have to wait until the ribs are cold but give them at least 10 minutes while you grab a drink and start to mix the sauce together.
Mixing The Sauce And Cooking The Ribs
To make this as fast and easy as possible, first lay out all of your ingredients.
Get all the pots, pans and dishes you need ready.
You don’t want to be hulking items out from under the sink to find a pan you need midway through cooking.
- Mix the first 7 ingredients in a glass-measuring cup. Leave the cornstarch and water for later
- Microwave on full power for 1 minute, stirring once or twice
- Arrange the ribs in 19 x 9-inch glass baking dish
- Pour the sauce on top and cover the dish with plastic wrap
- Microwave on full power for 5 minutes
- Turn the power down to 50% and microwave the ribs for 20 minutes
- Turn the ribs over and microwave again at 50% power for 20 minutes
- Drain off the liquid reserve and skim the fat from the juice
- Mix the cornstarch and water, then add to the juice, before microwaving for 1 – 2 minutes until thick. Pour this over the ribs
Eat the best ribs you have ever tasted!
Don’t Forget The Side Dishes!
While the ribs are the stars of the show, they can be complemented by some tasty supporting acts.
If you want to keep your meal simple then put together some mashed potato and your favorite brand of beans.
Perhaps you prefer something lighter like a corn-on-the-cob that only takes 5 minutes to boil. Add plenty of salt and butter to really draw out the flavors.
A tomato salad will help cleanse your palate. Again, this can be very simple. If you can, get two or three types of tomato but using just one is fine. Chop them up as finely as you can and lay them out on a plate. Drizzle olive oil over then sprinkle liberally with finely chopped garlic and onion. You can add fresh chili also depending on your taste for heat.
A simple avocado mixed with garlic, tomato, chili, and served on a bed of lettuce is another cheap and fresh side dish.
Of course, there is no reason why you couldn’t simply ignore the side dishes and heap more ribs on your plate!