Saturday, April 25, 2015

Grilled Baby Back ribs

My preferred method of making ribs is to cook them in a smoker. Second to that would be slow-roasting them in the oven. Grilling is not a cooking method that one associates with baby back ribs. Truth be told, if you just went out and slapped them on the grill, the meat would have the texture of tire rubber. The "low and slow" method does wonders for ribs, rendering the fat, dissolving the you that great "falling off the bones" meat. So how do you that on a grill? The secret, my friends, is aluminum.

Aluminum foil, that is. After using a rub on the ribs, you double seal them in sheets of aluminum foil. The seal is air-tight. So while the fat renders and the collagen dissolves during the cooking process, those liquids have nowhere to go. The moisture is held in the packet, which causes the ribs to braise. The braising process yields that tender, sweet pork meat that we all so love and cherish.

Now a little word about the rub. I have tried hundreds of rubs. The one I always come back to is Famous Dave's Rib Rub. It is absolutely spectacular. I make sure I always have at least six bottles on hand, because I go through it like wildfire. If you're smart, you'll buy up a whole bunch on your next trip to the grocery store and keep it in your pantry. If you'd rather make it yourself, I have shared Dave's rib rub recipe below (makes 6 cups).


Famous Dave's Rib Rub
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup kosher salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup garlic seasoning
1/4 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 cup lemon pepper
1/4 cup onion salt
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
2 tablespoons coarse ground black pepper
2 tablespoons whole celery seeds
1 teaspoon crushed cloves
1 tablespoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash original blend

For the Ribs
2 racks baby back ribs, about 2 pounds each
1 cup wood chips (hickory preferred)
1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce

  1. Soak the wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat (350° to 450°F).
  3. Cut each rack crosswise in the middle to create two smaller racks.
  4. Season each half rack evenly with the rub. Using eight 18-by-24-inch sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil, double wrap each half rack in its own packet.
  5. Place the ribs on the grill over direct medium heat and cook for 1 hour, with the lid closed, occasionally turning the packets over for even cooking, making sure not to pierce the foil.
  6. Remove the packets from the grill and let rest for about 10 minutes. Carefully open the foil packets, remove the ribs, and discard the rendered fat and foil.
  7. Drain and add the wood chips to the charcoal or to the smoker box of a gas grill, following manufacturer’s instructions, and close the lid. When the wood begins to smoke, return the ribs to the grill, bone side down. Grill over direct medium heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until they are sizzling and lightly charred, 10 to 12 minutes, turning and basting once or twice with the sauce. Remove from the grill and let rest for about 5 minutes. Cut into individual ribs and serve warm with any remaining sauce.

Wine pairing: A big California Zinfandel. A Rombauer Zin if you love fruit bombs!

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