If you have one full rack of un-cut baby back ribs, I would recommend cutting them in half. This makes them easier to manipulate later on rather than trying to move around one large set of ribs.
Flip the ribs over and attempt to remove the “silverskin.” The silverskin is a layer of connective tissue usually found on the underside of ribs (but can also be found on tenderloin cuts as well). You do not absolutely have to remove this layer under the ribs because it can be a little difficult, but the ribs do turn out a bit better when you do. The dry rub can also reach the meat on the underside of the ribs better this way. In order to remove the silverskin, you need to use a knife edge to slice a piece of the sliver skin sitting on top of a bone. Don’t do this over the meat area because you could damage the meat. Using dry hands or a paper towel, grab hold of the flap you created and simply pull the silverskin off. Repeat this process until you’ve gotten all or most of it off. Sometimes the silverskin comes off very easily and other times you will have to work for it. Below you can see on the left where I started the process and on the right where the silverskin is untouched.
Set the ribs aside and get the dry rub ready. In a bowl, add in the onion powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, and chili powder.
Next, add in the oil and mix the dry rub very well using a spoon or your hands (this is where latex gloves really pay off).
Apply the dry rub evenly over the entire (top and bottom) rack of rib by really rubbing it all over.
Place the ribs into a seal-able plastic bag or large air tight container to let them marinate in the rub. Again, cutting the ribs in half makes this much easier to accomplish. Let the ribs sit like this at room temperature for an hour or overnight in the fridge. If you leave them in the fridge over night, then let them sit outside the fridge for 30 min. to an hour before you are ready to cook them so they get to room temperature.
After an hour has passed, pre-heat the oven to 250 – 260 degrees F.
Tear off a long sheet of aluminum foil and lay it over the baking sheet before placing the ribs on top of the foil. Set the baking sheet and ribs so that the longer sides are facing you.
Now, you want to fold the foil so that it creates a pouch for the ribs. I usually start by folding half of the right or left side of the foil over the ribs.
Then I fold the other half over as well. You may need to tuck some of the foil underneath the ribs if the foil extends beyond the edge of the ribs.
The last step is to fold up and roll the open edges at the top and bottom so that they close the pouch.
Repeat this process with the other half of ribs, so that you have two pouches.
When the oven has reached 250 degrees F, place the baking tray with the pouches of ribs on the middle rack of the oven. Then forget about them for 3 to 4 hours. You do not need to open the oven or check on the ribs at all during this time.
After three or four hours, the ribs are done cooking, so remove them from the oven and set the oven to broil on High. [Updated Note: three hours gives you slightly firmer ribs while four hours gives you soft fall off the bone. I like to go about 3:15 to 3:30 myself].
The next step is tricky because you want to drain the pouches of ribs, which are now filled with liquid after cooking. Carefully make a small opening in the pouches and drain them into a heat safe container or bowl. You may need to move the ribs from the tray to do this. The idea is to get rid of the liquid without spilling that liquid all over the baking tray. You can save the liquid and make a gravy or glaze using it or just wait until it cools and discard it in the trash in a sealed container (plumbing apparently doesn’t like grease!).
With the liquid gone, open up the pouches and let the ribs breathe! They will look a little strange at first, but that’s ok!
Once the pouches are opened, place the ribs under the broiler for 3 – 5 minutes until they take on a little color and look a little crispier. If any grease from the ribs catches fire, simply take them out and remove the greasy area from the pan before returning the ribs to the broiler. You will need to watch the ribs carefully at this point so they don’t burn.
Lastly, use a basting or pastry brush to brush on your favorite barbecue sauce on the top side of the ribs. I prefer a very light layer because barbecue sauce can overpower some of the more delicate flavors of the ribs, but that is up to you. Feel free not to use any at all if you don’t like barbecue sauce. You can also make your own BBQ sauce that goes amazingly well with these ribs using my recipe by clicking here.
Cut up the ribs using a sharp knife if you want to split up the servings.
Serve them with other classic barbecue sides like corn, collard greens, mashed potatoes, roasted green beans, macaroni and cheese, or homemade coleslaw!
Eat and marvel at how cleanly these ribs come off the bone!