St. Louis-Style Cubano BBQ Pork Ribs

Serves 4
Naranja agria, the juice from Seville oranges, can be found in Hispanic food stores or in the international foods aisle of many supermarkets. You can make a good substitute from equal parts orange juice and lime juice (½ cup sweet orange juice & ½ cup lime juice)


  • 1 rack (about 4 lbs) pork spare ribs

Rub Mixture

  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper

Mojo Criollo

  • 12 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped & crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup naranja agria* (bitter orange juice)

John's BBQ Sauce

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large green pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion, peeled & coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 2 (28-oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 tbsp prepared mustard
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Optional Seasonings

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cumin


Rub & Bake Ribs
  1. Preheat oven to 250° and prepare a baking sheet by treating it with nonstick cooking spray
  2. In a small bowl combine the sugar and the dry spices
  3. Rinse the ribs carefully and pat them dry.  Generously season the ribs on both sides with the sugar and spice mix and rub it into the meat
  4. Place the ribs on a baking sheet and bake slowly for 1½ - 2 hours, or until tender

Make Mojo Criollo

  1. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves, then press down with a knife to crush the garlic
    Add salt and pepper and mash everything together using the flat side of a knife blade or a mortar and pestle. Set aside
  2. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat until it is fragrant
  3. Add the garlic mixture and cook just until the garlic is tender; be careful not to burn it
    Add the orange juice, stir and bring to a boil. Once mixture reaches a boil, turn off the heat and you are done!
  4. Carefully transfer to serving bowl. Serve with vegetables, as a dipping sauce, or use as a wonderful marinade for meats
  5. Store in a container with a tight-fitting lid.  It can be refrigerated for a few days

Marinate Ribs

  1. Remove the ribs from the oven and allow them to cool
  2. When cool enough to handle, cut the rack into individual ribs and place them in a large bowl, pour Mojo Criollo over them and toss to coat. Marinate overnight for best flavor

Make John's BBQ Sauce

  1. In a large sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat until fragrant. Add the green pepper, onion and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes
  2. Reduce the heat to low, add optional seasonings and remaining ingredients, stir well, cover and cook slowly for about 1 hour.
  3. Remove from heat, allow to cool and store in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container.  The sauce will keep for weeks in the refrigerator