Perfectly baked, these fork-tender, fall-off-the-bone pork riblets, in a thick homemade barbecue sauce, couldn’t get any easier! Do you remember when these used to be popular at buffet restaurants? This is a copycat version you can make at home!
BAKED BBQ PORK RIBLETS
I’m a sucker for anything baked in a sauce. I don’t care if it’s beef, chicken, fish, or pork. Of all the things you can slow-bake in a homemade barbecue sauce though, my first choice would be pork. I absolutely love pork. I would choose nearly any cut of pork over the most expensive cut of beef – always.
Some of my other saucy pork recipes can be found right here at Lord Byron’s Kitchen. The most popular is probably my Sweet Jalapeno Pork, and my Peking Pork Chops. The most popular of all though, are my Honey Garlic Baked Pork Bites. They have been the most popular recipe on my blog for the past three or four years!
RIBS VERSUS RIBLETS
For this recipe, I used pork riblets, which are basically ribs that are cut into shorter lengths – usually about an inch or so in length. Some butchers package prepared riblets from the actual rack of ribs when they trim the sides of the ribs to make them more uniform.
If you can’t find riblets, you can buy a rack of pork ribs and run your knife lengthwise between the bones and then use a cleaver to cut the ribs into one inch pieces. Of course, you can always have your butcher do this for you. I find that the best place to find already prepared pork riblets is at an Asian market or grocer. Riblets are very popular in Asian cuisine.
As you can probably imagine, when pork ribs are cut, the bones will most likely leave behind a few bone fragments. It’s vitally important to thoroughly wash each riblet under running cool water. You do not want to bite into one of those little bone shards. They are so sharp!
Once you’ve found your pork riblets and have washed them thoroughly, you get to bake them and eat until you can’t eat no more! And, trust me, Dear Reader, that’s just what you’ll want to do. (I did!)
Baked Barbecue Pork Riblets pay homage to a dish that I loved so much when I was a kid. Pork ribs were baked often by my mom, and very much like the recipe you see below. My mom would most often bake her riblets in one of those black enamel roasting pans, but I don’t own one of those.
Besides, I think that in order to get some browning on the riblets, without having to go through the process of browning them on the stove top first. Using a large baking sheet, and ensuring that the riblets are not overlapping, will ensure the riblets are browned, as well as glazed with that delicious barbecue sauce!
In order to get that fall-off-the-bone texture we all know and love when it comes to ribs, you’ll need to have a little patience. This is not a fast dish to make. It will take just over two hours. That’s not terribly bad though, is it? You may think so, but you’ll quickly change your mind when you taste these!
After all, life is not always about instant satisfaction. It’s about taking things slow and savouring the moment. And, in my experience, meat is always best when it’s slow roasted or braised.
HERE’S WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
- Pork Riblets – An Asian grocer is a great place to find these, but you can ask your butcher as well, since riblets are simply smaller pieces cut from a full rack.
- Brown Sugar – There’s a lot of brown sugar in this recipe, but it just works. The riblets will not be too sweet, and the sugar will caramelize them.
- Worcestershire Sauce – You will need 1/4 cup for this recipe. Just like the sugar, it’s a lot, but it works!
- White Vinegar – The vinegar balances out the sweetness.
- Ketchup – It adds complexity to the sauce with the tomatoes, spices, and herbs.
- Seasonings – In addition to salt and pepper, you will need paprika for smokiness, dry mustard for flavour and a bit of warmth, and chili powder for colour and kick.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST PORK RIBLETS:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Rinse the pork riblets under cold water to remove any small pieces of bone that may be present. Pat the riblets dry with paper towel and line them up on the prepared baking sheet. Do not overlap the riblets. Bake the riblets for 45 minutes. Turn the riblets over after the first 25 minutes of baking time.
In the meantime, whisk together the remaining ingredient until well incorporated. Set aside. Once the riblets have browned, remove them from the oven. Pour the sauce mixture over the riblets and turn the riblets over so that each riblet is well coated in the sauce.
Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and return the riblets to the oven. Bake for 90 minutes, turning the riblets once every 30 minutes. Once fully baked, remove from oven and serve immediately. So easy, right!?
Baked Barbecue Pork Riblets
- 3 pounds pork riblets
- 2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Rinse the pork riblets under cold water to remove any small pieces of bone that may be present. Pat the riblets dry with paper towel and line them up on the prepared baking sheet. Do not overlap the riblets.
- Bake the riblets for 45 minutes. Turn the riblets over after the first 25 minutes of baking time.
- In the meantime, whisk together the remaining ingredient until well incorporated. Set aside.
- Once the riblets have browned, remove them from the oven. Pour the sauce mixture over the riblets and turn the riblets over so that each riblet is well coated in the sauce.
- Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and return the riblets to the oven.
- Bake for 90 minutes, turning the riblets once every 30 minutes.
- Once fully baked, remove from oven and serve immediately.