I tend to see most recipes as suggestions, or guides, rather than the holy bible for that particular dish. This isn’t baking, this is grilling. Chemistry level precision isn’t needed. The odd thing is that the lack of precision lets in TONS of superstition. Salting meat? Searing to seal in juices? How to cook ribs is like velcro for stuff like this.
The upside is that ribs are basically garbage meat and the only way to salvage it is with long and low heat. If cooking a beef fillet is like hitting a quarter from 50 yards with a pistol, then ribs is like hitting the ground with your ass.
- Rinse and dry the rib slabs
- Remove the silverskin from the bottom of the slab
- Coat the ribs in spice rub mixture (rub suggestion).
- Three slabs BARELY fit on a cookie sheet bone side down, and cover with aluminum foil.
- Refrigerate overnight if possible. If this is a last minute RIB SURPRISE then you can skip this step.
- Remove from the fridge and let stand on the counter to come to room temperature.
- Pour 1/2 Cup to 1 Cup liquid in the bottom of the sheet. (Beer, Red Wine, Apple Cider)
- Put covered ribs in the oven @ 250 for 2 hours (We are braising the ribs here)
- Remove and put on a cool grill (250-275) with some wood chunks and continue cooking for an hour or so.
I just add a few large chunks of Applewood at the beginning of the grilling time. This is enough to get some smoke flavor, but not so much that you feel like you are eating bark. Once you see the meat pulling back from the bones, that is a good cue that they are getting close to done. Maybe 1/8″ to 1/4″ pullback is a good sign. I cook primarily with the bones to the heat, and if you KEEP THE GRILL COVERED, the indirect heat should be enough to get a decent crust on the top if there is enough brown sugar in your spice rub. This keeps the fat flareups to a minimum.
This weekend I was doing a grilling demo on location and the host picked up a slab of ribs and I had NO IDEA I was cooking them until I got there. I rinse, dried & rubbed them. Then put them on a Hasty Bake grill @ 250 with lump charcoal and applewood chunks. I cooked them for about 3 hours and they turned out pretty well. If you do the entire cook over coals I would suggest some sort of vinegar mop.
From Indirect Heat:
- 1 bottle of beer
- ½ cup cider vinegar
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ½ medium onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp rub
Sauce is a matter of preference. I am a dry rib guy, the texture of that crunch on the outside is one of my favorite parts of eating ribs. I usually put sauce on the side and people can dip as needed. If you want “saucy” ribs just add some towards the end, maybe the last 30 minutes or so. More time than that will end up burning the sugars in3 the sauce and making a gimungous mess on your grill. Not all of us are Steven Raichlen and get new grill grates for every dish we cook.