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Fennel-Horseradish Pork Spare Ribs Recipe

This pork spare ribs recipe was FANTASTIC! They were different than your standard dry rubbed, smoked and either sweet or vinegar soaked ribs. These had more character to them, and the horseradish in the end just give it an earthy heat, pulling together the aroma from the orange and the sweet little pop from the fennel seeds.

I was in Mexico when I cooked these, and CostCo had a special on pre-cut ribs. Each rib was individually cut, as opposed to a whole slab. I was annoyed, but they still turned out great!

For the purposes of this recipe, I'm going to present it as if the rack had been whole (an intact slab of spares will yield juicier results) ... my ribs were great, but had too much barky-dry skin for each rib.

Note: Served with White BBQ Sauce

Second Note: I confess to not fully understanding the nutrition on the rib slabs. My assumption is the USDA is listing the nutrition as if all bones, tendons, etc. were consumed, as well. I'm not sure how to present this info, but ... I do more or less trust the carb count.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time5 hrs
Total Time1 d
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 2303.2kcal
Author: DJ Foodie


  • 2 slabs pork spare ribs (about 5 lbs. per slab)
  • 1 each orange
  • 1/2 cup prepared horseradish
  • 1 tbsp fennel seed whole
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 each garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste


  • The day before the cook, you want to prepare and rub your ribs with a prepared paste. To begin, you'll want to peel the membrane off the inside (boney side) of the slab. This can be tricky to start, but once a corner has been loosened, the rest usually rips right off. The membrane is a slightly shiny thick paper-like layer covering the ribs. Slide a small knife into one corner of the ribs, just between the meat and membrane. I usually use a butter knife for this (a sharp knife may cut through the membrane, when I see this as more of a "prying" effect). Jiggle and push and shove the knife between the meat and membrane, sliding it from side to side, until roughly 1 inch of membrane has been loosened enough to hold on to. With a towel, grab the flap and with consistent force, peel the membrane off the inside of the slab. It "should" come off in one nice tear. If it doesn't, continue the prying and pulling process, until the entire membrane has been removed. Set it aside.
  • With a sharp vegetable peeler, peel the outside of the orange. You want to remove ONLY the orange outer layer, and none of the bitter white stuff (called "pith"). You want to remove about a third of the orange outer rind (called "zest").
  • Cut the orange in half and juice it. Save the juice for the next day.
  • In a mixing bowl, mix together the horseradish, chopped orange zest, whole fennel seeds, cayenne and fresh chopped garlic.
  • Rub the horseradish rub all over both sides of the slab. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate, overnight.
  • The next day, remove the ribs from the refrigerator and set them on the counter for about an hour, before they go into the smoker.
  • Prepare your smoker. Pre-heat to between 215 F and 235 F (this can be done in an oven without smoke, and still tastes great, but ... loses that smoky quality). Depending on your approach to the smoking process, you can also soak some hickory, or other aromatic wood chips in some water at this point. Finally, put a drip pan filled with water on the rack beneath where the pork will go. Some of this water will evaporate helping maintain moisture. It will also catch any fat, rather than causing flare ups in the fire ... or just making a big mess. Even if this is done on a pan in an oven, include a pan of water somewhere inside the oven.
  • Unwrap your ribs, season them with salt and pepper, and then place them in indirect heat within the smoker to begin the smoking process.
  • Combine your fresh orange juice with an equal amount of extra virgin olive oil.
  • About once an hour, open the smoker and liberally brush your orange juice-olive oil mixture on both sides of the ribs.
  • The ribs should cook for about an hour per lb. in the slab. When the ribs start to get dark from the sugar in the orange juice, wrap them in foil and place them back in the smoker until they are done. A 5 lb. rack will take approximately 5 hours. They will be done when the temperature of the ribs is between 175 and 185 F. The meat will have retracted by about ¼ to ½ inch and the meat easily separates from the bones. Twist a rib to test!
  • Once the ribs are done, keeping them in the foil, allow them to rest for about 20 minutes prior to slicing the ribs between each bone and serving.
  • Serve!


Serving: 4g | Calories: 2303.2kcal | Carbohydrates: 9.36g | Protein: 216.44g | Fat: 150.475g | Fiber: 2.5g