These are the ribs that prove you can do it in about 2 hours, start to finish -- and without the dreaded parboiling. Barbecue master Steve Raichlen likes a little chew to the meat, and this "smoke roasting" method, over indirect medium heat instead of the classic low-and-slow approach, is a simple way to get delectable ribs in a reasonable time.
Besides charcoal, you'll need a temperature gauge for the grill; 1 1/2 cups wood chips or chunks, soaked for 1 hour in water to cover, then drained; and a barbecue mop.
Servings: 4 - 6
- For the mop sauce
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup apple cider
- 3 tablespoons bourbon (may substitute 3 additional tablespoons apple cider)
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- For the rub and ribs
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard, such as Colman's
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
- 2 to 3 racks (4 to 5 pounds) baby back or loin back pork ribs
- Lemon Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce (see related recipe), or your favorite barbecue sauce
For the mop sauce: Melt the butter in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Add the cider, bourbon and soy sauce, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm until ready to use.
For the rub: Combine the salt, brown sugar, paprika, pepper, dry mustard, garlic powder and celery seed in a small bowl, mixing to break up any lumps. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the mixture for serving.
For the ribs: Place a rack of ribs, meat side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Remove the thin, papery membrane from the rack by inserting a butter knife or the tip of a meat thermometer or skewer under it, starting at the end of one of the middle bones, and lifting it up. Use a dishcloth or paper towel to gain a secure grip, then grab the end of the membrane and peel it off. Repeat with the remaining rack.
Sprinkle all but the reserved 1 tablespoon of rub over both sides of the ribs, working it into the meat. Cover the ribs with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the grill.
To set up the grill for indirect grilling: If using charcoal, light charcoal in a chimney starter. Dump or rake the lighted coals into 2 mounds on opposite sides of the grill. Place an aluminum foil drip pan in the center under the grate. If using gas, with a two-burner grill, set one burner to medium and leave the other unlit; with three or more burners, set the outside or front and rear burners to medium and leave the center burners unlit. Cover the grill and preheat to medium (325 to 350 degrees).
When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Place the ribs, bone side down, in the center of the grate, over the drip pan if using charcoal, and away from the heat; or use a vertical rib rack if the grill is too small. Toss half the wood chips on each mound of coals, or use a smoker box in a gas grill. Cover the grill and cook the ribs for 45 minutes.
Mop the ribs on both sides with the mop sauce. Close the grill and cook for 45 to 60 minutes, mopping the ribs every 15 minutes and replenishing the coals if necessary to maintain 325 to 350 degrees. Cook until the ribs are well browned and are tender enough to pull apart with your fingers, and the meat has shrunk back from the ends of the bones by about 1/4 inch.
Just before serving, brush the ribs all over with some of the Lemon Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce (see related recipe). Move the ribs directly over the fire. Grill them for 1 to 3 minutes per side, until the sauce on the ribs is browned and bubbling.
Transfer the ribs to a large platter or cutting board. Let them rest for a few minutes, then cut the racks in half or into individual ribs. Sprinkle a little of the reserved rub over the ribs. Serve immediately, and pass the remaining barbecue sauce at the table.
Adapted from "Raichlen on Ribs, Ribs, Outrageous Ribs" (Workman, 2006).
Tested by Joe Yonan.
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