This is the only recipe I have ever used for ribs. It was in my old handwritten recipe notebook, and I was gobsmacked to see it was from a 1979 (!!) Gourmet Magazine. It is already 6 years since the celebrated zine - established in 1941 - was very suddenly closed down in 2009. The last days of Gourmet are reflected in this collection of photos. Editor Ruth Reichl undoubtedly was "inspired" by some of those real life memories in her first work of fiction - Delicious! (2014). Literary reviews were not very kind, but suspend some disbelief and cynicism, and it's fine as a light summer read about food and NYC. It's been a while since I made this, so I mostly followed the recipe - with some tips for next time.


3 pounds spareribs 

Cut up ribs into sections with two bones each. Brown in two tablespoons of oil over high heat. Transfer to roasting pan with meaty side up.

1 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp each of turmeric, paprika, celery salt, pepper

Combine above seasonings and sprinkle over browned ribs.

Served with greens with Lime, Ginger, Honey Dressing and Broccoli

Served with greens with Lime, Ginger, Honey Dressing and Broccoli

See Notes below before this step:

1 cup ketchup
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup minced green pepper
1/2 cup minced onion
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 TB Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine above in food processor. Mince into a sauce and spread onto ribs. Baked at 325 F, basting every 30 minutes and turning once for total of two hours.


Notes and Tips...

  • Quantity -  I didn't pay attention to the weight. Ribs are packaged as a full rack and I got two.
  • Spareribs - there are side ribs and the more meaty (and therefore more costly) back ribs. I prefer back ribs. Maybe the cost is what has prevented me from making this more often.
  • Oil - it's interesting that in 1979 there was no specific reference to what kind of oil. I used Grapeseed Oil, noted for it's high smoke point. Olive oil, with it's low smoke point and tendency to degrade with high heat, is not an ideal choice for this recipe. If no grapeseed, a vegetable oil is a better choice. I browned the ribs in two batches and extra oil is needed for second batch. Even if ribs are patted dry, browning on high heat may create some splatter - so a splatter screen really helps.
  • Spice rub - I didn't have celery salt, and instead used ground celery seed.
  • Green Pepper - (did we not have food processors in 1979?) I did not bother to mince this. I just cut it into chunks and let the food processor do the rest. I wonder if red bell peppers were not popular/available back then? I think this might be better with red pepper.
  • Cider Vinegar - I get grumpy when local grocery stores stock only clunky cider vinegar. At the risk of sounding snobby, cider vinegar exists on a continuum with some begin more flavourful - and eve more healthy. Thanks to special friends I now have a bottle of Bragg's - described as "Organic, Raw, Unfiltered, with the 'Mother', Naturally Gluten Free - Certified Non-GMO". (I do not know what "the Mother" refers to - will fin time to learn more. It seems that coder vinegar has many heath benefits. ) The Cider vinegar I'd been treasuring was from Gingras - and it seems they too have one that includes "the Mother". They do sell online, so will have to do this one day. Maison Orphee also has cider vinegar - but, while I have seen their oils, have not seen the vinegar.
  • Garlic - I like garlic, so did not mince or measure this. I did a rough chop on a couple of cloves and added them to the food processor.
  • Baking - steps I used: 1) meat side up, pour sauce over and cover loosely with foil about 30 minutes. 2) remove foil, flip ribs over so the meaty part is sitting in the sauce for about an hour - baste as necessary.. 3)  flip ribs meaty side up for the last 30 minutes. Add a bit of water if the sauce is cooking down to much and threatening to burn. Before serving I "swish" the ribs in the sauce so they are nice and moist and shiny. I served this with veggies and rice which was delish with the extra sauce on it.
  • Make ahead - the day before, I cut the ribs into sections, made the spice rub and the sauce. This made the cooking day easier.