Rib Macaroni Salad
Ribs have a certain weight to them. I don’t mean physical weight, but I mean an emotional weight! They are the bible of barbeque and it can be intimidating for the home cook to even try to make ribs. But, it’s rib season right now! Is there anything better than a rack of ribs and a few beers on a hot summer day?
But there are so many questions that come with ribs. What kind do I buy? Do I cook them on the grill? Do I rub them? Do I use a sauce?
Take a breath, team. I’m going to take some weight off of the rib gospel right now and tell you that if you are just starting out (or even if you are an experienced cook) you should probably be making your ribs in the oven!
Of course, this isn’t what the Bar-B-Q kings want you to hear, and it’s true that you won’t get 100% to the full flavor smoked rib, but it’s SO EASY and they turn out beautifully tender and delicious. You really can’t go wrong.
I like to use either spare ribs or baby back ribs and I rub them with a simple mix. This time I used Stubb’s Pork Rub plus brown sugar, salt, and pepper. The Pork Rub that Stubb’s makes is really unique. It has lime as the fourth ingredient which gives the rub a nice, bright citrus note that goes well with the chilis.
I’d also recommend basting the ribs every hour or so with some apple cider vinegar.
The good news is that ribs are really hard to overcook so stick them in the oven, relax, and check on them occasionally. Once they are done, glaze them in Bar-B-Q sauce and wrap them up to rest for a few minutes before serving. Adding more Bar-B-Q sauce after they are cooked and letting them baste in it makes them super juicy and flavorful.
If you did it right (don’t worry, you will) you’ll have delicious ribs and hopefully you have some leftovers. Leftover ribs are one of my favorite things to experiment with. You can really make the flavor go further by using the leftovers in something like this Rib Macaroni Salad!
You would think I wrote a whole cookbook about leftovers or something right? I still love leftovers.
Making the Ribs
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with foil (for easier clean up). Lay a wire rack on top of the baking sheet.
Rub your ribs with spice rub, brown sugar, kosher salt, and black pepper. Lay ribs on wire rack and bake ribs for 3-4 hours in the middle rack of the oven. After about two hours, baste the ribs with some apple cider vinegar and then do it again at three hours. Depending on the thickness of the ribs, the cooking time will vary, but don’t worry. Ribs are very hard to overcook.
The ribs are done when you can take some tongs and bend them and they easily separate. If there’s a lot of resistance, then let them cook another 30-45 minutes and try again.
When ribs are tender and cooked, remove them from the oven and wrap them tightly in foil. Let them rest for 10 minutes and then chop them into individual ribs. Drizzle heavily with Stubb’s Original Bar-B-Q sauce, wrap them tightly in foil, and return them to the oven for another 15-20 minutes.
Remove ribs and let them rest for another 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with extra sauce on the side!
You can use any cut of ribs really. The only thing to note is that spare ribs have extra meat on them, which can be great, but also means that they will take longer in the oven. It’s what I used for this recipe because you end up with ribs but also some extra pulled pork for leftovers.
Don’t be stingy on the rub!
The Stubb’s rub I used here is pretty great. It’s heavy on the chili and I love the lime addition which gives the rub a great citrus flavor.
I would say that your ribs would need 3-4 hours in the oven. That’s a big range, I get it. But ribs aren’t exactly a science. The good news is that I’m fairly positive you can’t overcook them if you are checking on them every 30 minutes or so. When they give easily to pressure and separate easily, they are done.
Most importantly, once they are done cooking, it’s time to sauce them. I like to sauce the ribs, wrap them in foil, and return them to the oven for a few minutes to really marinate. Then let them rest for a few more minutes in the sauce out of the oven.
If you have leftovers (save a few for leftovers), then let’s go to…
Rib Macaroni Salad Time
Pull off enough meat from leftover ribs to measure out about two cups of meat. You’ll probably need 3-4 ribs to get this amount depending on size of the ribs. Roughly chop the rib meat.
Cook elbow macaroni according to instructions. Drain macaroni.
In a medium bowl, stir together grape tomatoes, sweet peppers, scallions, macaroni, and rib meat.
In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, Stubb’s Original Bar-B-Q Sauce, apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Stir dressing into the macaroni salad. Top with a drizzle of extra Bar-B-Q sauce and store in the fridge until ready to serve.
The macaroni salad will keep well in the fridge for 2-3 days.
This is a nice twist on the classic macaroni salad that lets you stretch out your hard work at making ribs.
I like adding lots of fresh, colorful, crunchy veggies to my macaroni salad. Lots of scallions!
Then I made a quick dressing. I hate (hate!) macaroni salad that is swimming in mayo. I like a very light dressing that coats everything but isn’t soupy at all. I mixed together mayo, Bar-B-Q sauce, and a little apple cider vinegar. This does the trick and ties together the bar-b-q flavors.
Everything in the bowl now!
Tossed together, it’s actually a really beautiful side dish (in my personal opinion). It also happens to be really good. It keeps great in the fridge for a few days and stretches your ribs from a main to a side dish with little trouble.
Do not shy away from making great ribs this summer!