Serves 6 to 8
5-pounds beef ribs
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons paprika (sweet, hot or smoked, whichever variety you prefer)
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 ¼ tablespoons kosher salt
Chipotle powder or ground red pepper (cayenne) to taste
½ teaspoon ground black
To finish: 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
Heat oven to 200°F. In a medium bowl, combine all of the spices and seasonings. On a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil large enough to wrap around your ribs, place rack of ribs, meatier side up. Sprinkle half of spice rub over rack, patting it on generously, including the sides. Carefully — it can help have a second person hold the foil down while you lift the rack — flip the rack of ribs back onto the foil so that they’re now meatier side down. Pat on remaining rub. Tightly fold the foil to seal packets.
Set a metal rack (a cookie cooling sheet works well here) over a baking sheet and place foil-wrapped ribs on top. Bake for 4 hours, then reduce temperature to 175°F for 2 more hours, or until a fork easily penetrates the meat.
Open packet of ribs very carefully and pour accumulated juices into a saucepan. I find this easiest with one person lifting/tilting ribs packet and the other one snipping a corner and making sure the juices only go where you want them to. Bring the saucepan to a full boil and reduce the mixture until it becomes thicker, syrupy and will coat a spoon — usually by at least half. Stir in vinegar. This is the “barbecue sauce” for those that like it on their ribs; it will be fairly salty and I always warn people to use it judiciously.
Meanwhile, cut the ribs apart and spread them on a serving tray. For extra caramelization, you can spread them back on their baking sheet (sans rack) and run them under the broiler for a couple minutes.
Serve ribs with sauce on the side.