Who’s in the kitchen: Spare ribs


So there we were, stuck in horrendous traffic on the way to the Klein bris. We left an hour and half to get to Teaneck, but rain, traffic and accidents slowed everything down. We got to the shul 9:05 and Jerry thought that maybe it was too late to even go in. I said we should at least run in to say mazal tov (as you’ll see, no good deed goes unpunished).

Our hosts, the Kleins, were grateful we showed up, albeit very late--ok we basically missed the whole thing. My friend Nan wanted to make sure we took something to eat since they were already cleaning off the tables. I grabbed a bagel and lox for Jerry, took a plain bagel for myself and some whitefish salad in a plastic cup. I quickly wrapped everything in silver foil they had available and found a plastic bag to put it in. As we were leaving I eyed rich chocolate rugalach and threw three of them in a small plastic monkey dish and we were on our way. Jerry walked ahead to open the car as it was raining. All of a sudden my heel got caught in a crack in the street and try as I might I couldn’t catch myself and fell flat on my chest, so hard, that I couldn’t breathe. The fall was so hard it literally knocked the wind out of me. Jerry, having no idea that I fell, quickly turned around when he heard me gasp, “I can’t breathe.” Two gardeners ran over to see how I was. They, too, were concerned when I couldn’t breathe. A few minutes later I was able to catch my breath. Most people had already left the bris but I noticed the Lamperts (one day, just once I want to see Joan not looking perfect) and the Thurms. At that point I was still sprawled on the floor. Still trying to figure out why I didn’t break my fall with my hands, I whispered to Jerry, “Put the bagels and white fish back in the bag.” Jerry helped me up as I winced in pain and I assured Dr. Thurm (who came over to make sure I was ok) that I was fine. As I struggled to get into the car, I realized, I couldn’t have broken my fall because I was holding onto the food with my hands. I’d like to think that I didn’t break my fall because when holding onto something my hands didn’t automatically brace for the fall. Jerry likes to think that I took one for the lox and the white fish—yes, I went down holding onto the food and didn’t drop it to save myself. Jerry excitedly said, “You holding onto the food was as great a play as David Tyree’s catch during the Super Bowl.” Jerry might be the basketball star but I didn’t fumble the white fish salad lox, bagels or rugalach.

Thanks to Nan, Janet G., Nancy K., Aviva W., Beverly F., Karen G. and Edy Blady for shopping, driving me around and making my life with a broken rib these past two weeks easier. Thanks to all of those as well who called on a daily basis to check in on me, and my mother-in-law who, as usual, certainly didn’t come empty handed when she came for Shavuot. Special kudos to Ellen F., you know why!

For those of you who’ve never broken a rib…trust me, let go of the food. I’ve never experienced as much pain…and I gave birth naturally three times!

The recipe this week was a no brainer…spare ribs. Hey, I could have used one.

The term actually comes from the German Rippenspeer which literally translates to “spear ribs,” as this cut was traditionally roasted on a spit or spear. In English, it became ribspare and eventually sparerib. This term not only refers to the practice of roasting the meat on a spear or spit, but it is a perfectly reasonable description of the cut itself, being spare of meat.


8 pounds spare ribs

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

2 cups barbeque sauce of your choice Dry spice rub (recipe below)

Ingredients for dry rub;

4 cups brown sugar

1 cup paprika

1/2 cup granulated garlic

1/2 cup granulated onion

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup black pepper

1/4 cup cumin

1/4 cup mustard powder

1/8 cup cayenne pepper


1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a cooling rack on top. Lay the ribs on top of the rack in a single layer. This will allow for heat to circulation on all sides of the ribs.

2. Brush the ribs on both sides with mustard. Sprinkle the ribs with the dry rub and pat. I like to do this a day before and then wrap the seasoned ribs in plastic and refrigerate, for deeper flavor.

3. Broil the ribs for about five minutes, until the sugar in the dry rub is bubbling and the ribs are evenly browned.

4.Set the oven to 300°F. Halfway through cooking, cover the ribs with aluminum foil to protect them from drying out.

5. About 30 minutes before the end of cooking, brush the ribs with barbecue sauce, re-cover with foil, and finish cooking.

6. The ribs are done when a knife slides easily into the thickest part of the rib meat. Let them rest, covered, for about ten minutes, and then cut between the bones to separate.

Judy Joszef can be reached at judy.soiree@gmail.com