Baby Back Ribs , a 2-step Method to Success

When it comes to cooking things on the grill, especially RIBS, this is usually my husband’s arena. The recipe we first had success with (Alton’s oven baby back ribs), turned out to be a little too greasy for us after a few years.  Delicious as they were.

Baby back ribs, done right!

Baby back ribs, done right!

When did I get a craving for ribs? I’m not sure, but the problem with restaurant ribs is that we usually walk away saying, “We could have done better ourselves.” Except for Dr. Hogly Wogly’s Tyler Texas BBQ out in California, that is. So, I decided to cook some ribs myself. I had an envie for Tuscan ribs(why? Never heard of them or knew there was such a thing, but, in a quest to use up my preserved lemons before it’s lemon season again, I set out to see if there was such a thing.

Of course.

With the basic flavors of lemon, rosemary and garlic, pork is always good.

But, for my family, I went ahead and made a rack of ribs with a more traditional rub, but cooked the two side-by-side: first low and slow in the oven for several hours, then about 30 to 45 minutes on a low grill.

Both sets of ribs turned out really well. These came out very, very good. Crispy yet tender, not greasy but still juicy… it was a nice balance. Some of the edges were a little charred and dry because the temp got a little high, but to be honest, we enjoy those bits, too.

 

Removing the membrane.  Once you get it lifted with the help of a sharp knife, get a good hold of the membrane and peel it off with a slow and steady pull.  Comes right off!

Removing the membrane. Once you get it lifted with the help of a sharp knife, get a good hold of the membrane and peel it off with a slow and steady pull. Comes right off!

 

An optional step: Cut the ribs into the desired serving portions, if everyone likes the crispy crusts.  We do!

An optional step: Cut the ribs into the desired serving portions, if everyone likes the crispy crusts. We do!

 

After sitting with the rub on for an hour or so while working on getting the grill ready.

After sitting with the rub on for an hour or so, kind of like a little marinade.

 

After 2 hours in a low oven, baked in a sealed pan (foil), the ribs come out tender and cooked, but look uninspiring....Go light your grill!

After 2 hours in a low oven, baked in a sealed pan (foil), the ribs come out tender and cooked, but look uninspiring….Time for a low fire grill to put a little smoke and color on these ribs!

For the traditional rib rub, you will need:

  • 8 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons smoky Spanish paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano or thyme, crushed

Mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl.   I used nearly all the rub on the approximately 1 1/2 racks being cooked.  If you are cooking more than 2 racks of ribs, you will need to make another batch of the rub.

Prepare the ribs by removing the membrane, and cut into 3-rib sections.  Pat the ribs dry with a paper towel, and using your hands, rub the rub into the top sides (the fleshy side) of all the ribs.  With the remaining rub, flip the ribs and evenly pat the rub into the bony side of the rib to make sure it is seasoned also.

I used a wire cooling rack in a cookie sheet to allow the juice to drain from the ribs.  Place all the rib sections on the rack, and seal the entire cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  Bake at 275 for about 2 hours (any temp between 275 and 325 should be fine, but the lowest temperature will allow the meat to cook more slowly, allowing for less shortening of the proteins, and thus, a tender rib.  Be careful when removing the ribs from the even, they released quite a bit of juice during their slow cook.

When the ribs have been in the oven for an hour, it’s a good time to heat up the grill.  If you plan on grilling other things on the grill, (lettuce salad, grilled veggies, shrimp, etc.), you want to time your cooking so that the ribs go on at the end of the cooking when the coals are cooled down.  I always add a few pieces of wood to the charcoal in lieu of setting up a real smoking set-up. (Like I said, that part of grilling is my husband’s forte.)  What was the temperature of the grill?  I’m not sure; our little thermometer thingy has been broken for quite some time….so, I just let the coals burn down until they were getting a little ashy, and made sure that the top and bottom flues were closed enough to keep the temperature down.

The result?  The meat was very tender, with a really nice crust on it.  No, it didn’t have that “smoke-ring” so desired, but then I didn’t smoke them.  We like our ribs not dry, but, not greasy either.  On these, the edges and undersides were a tiny bit dry, but the fleshy meat parts were still rich and tender.  And, everyone liked having their own crusts all the way around.  No one likes to share the crusts!  Finishing the ribs on the grill resulted in ribs that looked like they’d been smoking for hours, and still had that great grilled flavor from the little bit of time spent on the grill.

Yes, it’s a 2-step method, but, if you are going to place so much time and effort into cooking a meat, you really want to make sure it turns out the way you like it.  When you consider that many people advocate boiling the ribs before baking or grilling them (yuk!), a two hour stint in a low oven really does seem like a great alternative, and it produces great results.

Baby back ribs, done right!

Baby back ribs, done right!

Buen Provecho!

If you are looking to use up your preserved lemons, the Tuscan ribs might just be what you are looking for :  (https://icookforleftovers.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/tuscan-ribs-with-preserved-lemon/)

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