In this spareribs recipe a sticky, fruity glaze that’s better than any store-bought BBQ sauce caramelizes thickly over a rack of spice-rubbed trimmed pork ribs. Known as St. Louis–style ribs, this cut is favored in competitive BBQ circles (yep, that’s a thing!) for its neat squared-up shape and ideal meat-to-bone ratio (baby back ribs are smaller and taper on one end). Using tomato paste rather than the ketchup that’s often called for allows for a careful balance of acid, sweetness, and spice. Cook the ribs in an oven or even an Instant Pot (more on that below) first, then give them a chill in the fridge prior to finishing them on the grill or under the broiler. This step will help keep the ribs together as they’re flipped enthusiastically and painted with the sauce.
Instead of waiting around on baked ribs, you can use your Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker for near-instantaneous BBQ pork. Coat the rack of ribs with the dry rub, then stand it on its side, coiling the ribs gently inside the cooker (rather than stacking them) with a half cup of vinegar (any kind will do) or water. Cook at high pressure for 10 to 12 minutes (depending on how tender you want them; they still need to get sauced so don’t make them fall-off the bone tender just yet!) and allow the pressure to subside naturally (about 15 minutes). Remove ribs and let cool before glazing.
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Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 Tbsp. plus 2¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt
Tbsp. light or dark brown sugar
Tbsp. smoked paprika
Tbsp. garlic powder
Tbsp. onion powder
Tbsp. mild curry powder (preferably S&B)
racks St. Louis–style pork spareribs (3½–4 lb. total)
Glaze and assembly
cup strawberry jam or preserves or other seedless jam (such as peach or cherry)
cup double-concentrated tomato paste
Tbsp. hot sauce (such as Crystal or Frank’s)
Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Tbsp. yellow mustard
tsp. mild curry powder (preferably S&B)
Vegetable oil (for grill)
Mix 3 Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 Tbsp. plus 2¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt, 3 Tbsp. light or dark brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. smoked paprika, 2 Tbsp. garlic powder, 1 Tbsp. onion powder, and 1 Tbsp. mild curry powder in a small bowl to combine. Pat 2 racks St. Louis–style pork spareribs (3½–4 lb. total) dry with paper towels; remove silverskin from bones (lift and loosen with a knife and it should pull away in a single sheet; removing allows spices to penetrate the meat better and avoids a tough texture) and discard. Season all over with rub, concentrating most of it on meat side and patting to adhere. Wrap each rack in a double layer of foil, crimping edges together to seal. Place each on a rimmed baking sheet. Chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 300°. Bake foil-wrapped ribs until meat is fork-tender at the thickest part but not falling off the bones (poke meat through foil with a fork to check; aim for a spot between the bones), 2–2½ hours. Let cool slightly, then unwrap if finishing immediately.
Do ahead: Ribs can be baked 1 day ahead. Let cool completely, then chill.
Glaze and assembly
Cook ¾ cup strawberry jam or preserves or other seedless jam, ⅓ cup double-concentrated tomato paste, 2 Tbsp. hot sauce, 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp. yellow mustard, 1 tsp. mild curry powder, and ¼ cup water in a small saucepan, whisking often, until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Season glaze with kosher salt.
Prepare a grill for medium heat; oil grate. Cut each rack in half (for ease of handling). Grill ribs, turning and basting with glaze several times as soon as meat begins to brown, until charred, thickly coated with glaze, and heated through, 8–10 minutes. (Or, place a rack in upper third of oven; heat broiler. Arrange ribs, meat side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Brush with a thin layer of glaze; broil until ribs are blistered and charred in spots, about 3 minutes. Repeat glazing process a few more times to build up a layer of glaze.) Transfer ribs to a cutting board and brush one more time with glaze. Cut between bones to form individual riblets.
Arrange ribs on a platter and serve with any leftover sauce alongside.
Do ahead: Glaze can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.