Though ribs would seem to sit squarely in the domain of the Grill Master, not the Small Kitchen Dweller, they make a great dish to bring to a barbecue. Here’s why. Ninety-five percent of the work is done completely in advance. The ribs are seasoned and cooked, and the mop is made. Once at the grill, they simply have to be plopped on, browned, and covered with said mop–this can even be done by whoever’s grilling at the party right then; you don’t have to be the one to actually grill your ribs, honestly. Either way, the end result is way tastier than a hot dog, and it will bring you great recognition amongst your friends as The One Who Makes Those Awesome Ribs.
We all have an obsessive grill master in our lives, the guy who won’t stop buying new barbecue toys, or the friend who insists everything’s better when cooked over charcoal. Yet we Small Kitchen Dwellers have an obsessive streak, too: we’re always searching for better and better ways of cooking within our boundaries. They have a grill, we have small kitchens: not too different in the end. And as I went about researching and making these ribs, I could hear that siren song of the BBQ connoisseur in my head: suddenly, I was a rib disciple, committed to making ribs til the end of time. Since there are many who feel what I felt, ribs really do have a million versions, each the creation of a different grill master. Though I owe much to Alex’s stepdad, Stuart (of ice cream fame), these, readers, are mine.
How do you make ribs? Do you have a grillmaster figure in your lives?
From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Smoky Barbecued Ribs
The idea here is low and slow in advance–then quick and hot on the grill. This recipe works beautifully with both baby back and spare ribs. I think a lot of people err on the side of baby backs, and I can’t argue with that. However, don’t overlook the spare ribs in the butcher case. They’re cheaper for one, and they really transform amazingly during this long, slow cooking process, becoming delectably fall-off-the-bone, and rich.
Also note that you’ll need a lot of heavy duty aluminum foil, so add that to your shopping list if you’re low.
3 1/2 racks of ribs (5-6 pounds)
For the Spice Rub:
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons chile powder
1 teaspoon all spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
For the Mop:
1 cup wine
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoons brown sugar
You’ll also need: Heavy duty aluminum foil
Preheat the oven to 200°F.
Cut each rack of ribs in half, then carefully peel the membrane off of the bony sides of each rack.
Combine all the ingredients in the spice rub, using your fingers to mix them together well. Pat the spice rub into both sides of all the ribs, then place two racks side by side on a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. Wrap, leaving the seam on the meat side, then wrap again in a second piece, leaving the seam on the bony side. Place on a baking sheet, meat side down. Repeat with the remaining ribs.
Cook for 3 hours, until the meat is tender. Carefully open the foil packets–they’ll contain very hot steam. Let cool until you can handle them, then place the ribs in airtight containers and drain out the juices into a bowl. Place the bowl of juice in the fridge to cool. When cool, skim the fat. This can be done up to two days in advance.
In a small pot, place all the mop ingredients. Add the reserved braising juices and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, 20 to 30 minutes, until the mop is syrupy. This can also be done up to two days in advance.
Over medium-high heat on a gas or charcoal grill, or under a broiler, grill the ribs, bone side down, until they get some good color. Flip each rack, then brush the top side of each thoroughly with the mop. When the meat side is brown, flip again, then brush that side with the mop. Flip once more, making sure the ribs are very well browned but not burned.
Cut into servings of 3 ribs each and eat immediately.