SECRET SAUCE Preparation time: ½ day, but constant attention is not required. Simmer the sauce, stirring until the sugar is melted. Then, stir occasionally for a few minutes while the oil is drawn out of the lemon. Do not allow to scorch. Remove from heat and set aside. Broil the ribs flesh side up until browned. Turn and cook flesh side down, brown again. Now brush both sides with some of the sauce and cook on each side for five minutes. Do not let them burn or blacken! The RIBS at this point look good, but they are still raw. Cut the ribs apart and dip each rib in the sauce. Pile the ribs high on a full-sized oven broiler rack and pan, and pour any remaining sauce, less a cup or so, over the ribs. Cover the ribs with heavy-duty aluminium foil, tucking in around the outside edge of the pan to make an airtight container. Cook in the oven at 325F for 2 hours. Remove from oven and open very carefully. Beware the live steam that will rush out. Allow to sit, opened for a few minutes. The end result is smoked, steamed, tender meat which falls from the bones. All fat is rendered and drains into the pan. Use leftover sauce when warming over the second day. SAUCE VARIATION: Molasses, tomato paste, onion, spices Unfortunately I don't have anyplace to grill outdoors so can first part of the recipe (which calls for outdoor grilling) be substituted by putting the ribs in the oven? Rinse and dry ribs; then cut apart. Heat about 3 cups oil in a wok. When very hot, add ribs in small batches and fry until brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove and drain. [They are absolutely delicious at this point. Once I forgot to make the sauce until I was half done eating the ribs! They're great served at this point with various Chinese dips ++mustard with a dish of chopped scallions, hoisin sauce, chili sauces, etc. S.C.] Combine sugar, vinegar, salt and soy sauce. Remove oil from wok; return wok to stove and turn heat to high. When hot, add vinegar mixture. Cook, stirring, over high heat until syrupy. Add ribs; toss in the mixture until well coated. Serve warm or at room temperature. San Francisco Chronicle, date unknown... I have never tried that, but I suspect a compromise could be worked. Most of the actual cooking occurs during the oven portion. The purpose of the outdoor grilling is to both sear and seal the meat, and impart the unique flavor of barbecue to the ribs by exposing it to the smoke created when the drippings from the meat vaporize on the hot briquets. An additional (and desirable) flavor is also imparted to the meat if real charcoal briquets are used. The addition of the "Secret Sauce" during the last portion of the outdoor phase also contributes to the taste. As a non-outside alternative, I would suggest oven broiling of the ribs as a substitute for the outdoor searing. During the final portion, the coating of the slabs could still be done (the 5 minutes per side part). To possibly aid in giving a barbecue-like flavor, a drop or two of liquid smoke could be added **only** to the small portion of the sauce that is used to coat the ribs during the searing process. There's a possibility the time under the broiler may need to be shortened when compared with the outside method. Liquid smoke is a very potent ingredient, and I have never found it satisfactory for my own use. Obviously, some must, as it is still sold. As a rule of thumb, I would advise forgetting about the amount recommended for use on the bottle, and if in doubt, "use less". Then, following the oven broiling, you can continue by cutting the ribs apart, and continuing by the recipe. Posted by Stephen Ceideberg; October 5 1992.