Grilling and barbequing are very different things; both equally delicious. It’s important to understand the meaning of the two words if you want to become a better outdoor cook. Just think of them as two different techniques. Grilling is the act of cooking something in a hot, direct manner. For instance, a hamburger or a steak are grilled quickly over high heat. Barbeque, on the other hand, is all about long cooking times and low heat; roasting something slowly and indirectly. Tender, succulent, drool-worthy ribs definitely fall into the barbeque category.
Low and slow is the key here; use gentle, indirect heat and keep the grill shut. If you have a gas grill, shut off the middle burner that the ribs will be placed over and leave the outer burners on low. If you use charcoal, just keep the hot coals off to the side where the meat isn’t. Have faith and keep cooking for a long time at around 300 degrees F. It takes a while but, eventually, great tasting ribs will make you and your guests happy.
This recipe is adapted from Weber’s Real Grilling. I haven’t seen a better reference and recipe book for people who want to start cooking better on the grill.
I’ve made these ribs a bunch of times over the past couple of years, and they are always a big hit. It’s like bacon – you can’t not like it. I used apple wood chips instead of mesquite the last time, and they worked out just fine.
If you’ve never used wood chips to smoke before, it’s very easy. Just soak them really well, then add to a smoker box (a cheap accessory for gas grills, I got a no-name one at the hardware store for a few dollars), or place directly on the hot coals if you use charcoal.
Smoked Back Ribs with Homemade Sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon pure chile powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2/3 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup cola
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon mesquite liquid smoke
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon pure chile powder
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- About 2 cups mesquite chips, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
- 2 racks pork back ribs
- Dry the racks of ribs with a paper towel. Remove the thin, clear membrane from the back of each rack by inserting a butter knife or other dull, flat tool under one side and pulling with a paper towel. Ideally, the whole membrane will tear off. If it’s very thin and hard to grasp, you can slit it open with a sharp knife to expose the meat along the back of each rib. Allow the ribs to stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before they are cooked.
- To make the rub: In a small bowl, mix the rub ingredients. Season the ribs all over with the rub, pressing the spices into the meat.
- To make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic, chile powder, and cumin. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining sauce ingredients, whisk them together, and allow the sauce to simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Drain the mesquite chips and toss them onto the burning coals or into the smoking box of a gas grill. Grill the ribs over Indirect Low heat (grill temperature should be about 300°F) until the meat is very tender and has shrunk back from the ends of the bones, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. About 15 minutes before the ribs are done, start brushing occasionally with the sauce on both sides.
- Transfer the ribs to a baking sheet and tightly cover with aluminum foil. This will keep them moist and tender. Let rest for 30 minutes before serving.
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