Rib of the Week: Pork Spare Ribs with Cocoa Spice Rub
These ribs borrow heavily from Mexican mole—that dark, rich concoction of onion, garlic, several different kinds of chili peppers topped off with a good dose of chocolate. You usually see it served most with chicken, but the flavors are also really well suited to pork.
Chocolate and pork? Yep, chocolate and pork. Trust me. It’s good.
This spice rub uses generous amounts of kosher salt, chili powder, ground garlic, and ginger. Bitter, unsweetened cocoa powder deepens and enhances the heat from the chili and ginger.
The resulting flavors are earthy, complex, and oh-so-satisfying.
I like to serve these with white rice that’s been cooked with butter, salt, and a little chipotle chili powder.
Pork Spare Ribs with Cocoa Spice Rub
2 lbs. pork spare ribs
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbls. ancho chili powder
1/4 tsp. ground clove
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 Tbls. ground garlic
1 Tbls. kosher salt
2 Tbls. olive oil
Line a sheet pan with foil and/or parchment paper. Set it aside. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, put the cocoa powder, chili, clove, ginger, garlic, and kosher salt.
Mix them together with a fork or small whisk until uniform. Set the bowl aside for a minute while you grab the meat.
Get your pork ribs out of the fridge.
Put them in a gallon-size zip-top bag. Drizzle in the olive oil, seal the bag well, and give it a few shakes to coat the meat.
Pour the spice rub into the bag and over the ribs.
Seal the bag well and smoosh it around between your hands to coat the ribs with the spice rub. When the oil and the spices combine, the inside of your bag will be instantly coated with chocolate-y goodness. It will be messy looking. That’s just fine.
When you open the bag, your ribs should be covered in cocoa rub, like this:
Take the ribs out of the bag, giving them a little shake to knock off any excess spice. Lay them out on your prepared pan.
Hit the surface lightly with a little spray oil. I do this to help ensure I’ll get a good crust, since the fat content in the ribs will vary.
Sprinkle the ribs with dried parsley and chili flakes (I used Aleppo chili from Penzey’s) to taste.
Slide the pan into the oven and bake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees.
They’re done when the meat has developed a deep brown crust and comes away from the bone easily when you pull at it with a fork.
Serve hot and enjoy!