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BBQ Spare Ribs, Cooking Spare Ribs
BBQ Pork Spareribs
If you've looked through my articles, you know I've got a thing for pork spareribs - and my boys just sit around and encourage it. My kids can run through a rack of ribs like the Tasmanian Devil through a tree. I'm so into it, even my seven year old can tell you the difference between braising, smoking, barbecuing and grilling.
I've recently posted articles on smoking ribs, Smoked Pork Spareribs, and on braising them - Black Plum Braised Spareribs. Here is a third method. The cooking methods all share one aspect - they all three utilize a long slow heat. With braising it includes liquid, with smoking it's smoke (of course). Here it's indirect heat on a grill - and it's technically barbecuing. BBQ just means a low heat method of cooking on a grill or over indirect heat. It's incredibly easy, and the flavor is out of this world. Try this!
To do ribs correctly, so that they are tender, juicy and succulent, you need a few things. A grill of course. But you'll also need a dry rub, and a wet mop sauce. I've already included my standard rub in the article about smoking ribs - try that one. I like that one because it has enough flavor to really enhance the pork, but it does not interfere with it in any way. Don't forget - the ribs themselves are the stars of the show, and you need to make sure what you use with them doesn't cover them up. You can also tailor it easily to your own tastes. If you like it spicy, pop a little cayenne pepper in there. Just don't add sugar - it'll burn badly long before the ribs are done.
There's a mop sauce described in that article that can be used for BBQ ribs as well, it can easily be swapped out for the one that I'm going to outline. Just depends on what you like. I happen to love spicy and tangy, especially when combined with just a touch of sweetness at the end. This mop sauce is a NC style - so it's vinegar based, and contains however much spice you wish. If you want something sweeter, then try the mop sauce described in the Smoked Pork Spareribs article. Either one will give great results.
For real success you'll also need to remember it's really important to keep the ribs away from direct heat and flame, and to maintain the interior of the grill right at 200-225F. Much more than this and the ribs cook too quickly, without the slow heat that tenderizes them so beautifully.
Start with making the mop sauce. For that you'll need:
1 cup ketchup
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 Tbl crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbl brown sugar
Cayenne - if you want real heat. Start with a scant 1/2 tsp - it will concentrate and you'll blow the top of your own head off if you're not careful.
Mix all the mop sauce ingredients together, and put them in something easily dealt with beside the grill. I use a plastic bottle for condiments that I bought at a dollar store for $.49. You'll be able to drizzle the meat with the mop sauce without actually having to deal with the mess of a mop and bowl. Mix up your spice rub ingredients as well.
Preheat your grill to 200-225F. No higher!
Pull the ribs from their packaging and place on the counter on a large baking sheet. Give yourself a generous amount of the spice rub - at least a cup, and rub it well into both sides of the rack. Actually rub it in - pretend your giving them a massage. You want as much of the spice rub as possible to stick to the ribs (ha ha ha) even when you lift it or turn it over.
Stick your ribs on the grill as far away from the source of heat as you can. With a gas grill you just get one burner on low and the ribs all the way on the other end. With charcoal, you'll have to build the bed of coals to one side, and the ribs to the other.Also, make sure that the thinner end of the ribs is furthest away from the heat source.
Every half hour or so, drizzle the ribs with the mop sauce. Give them a half hour at the beginning of cooking to begin releasing their juices and to seal on the spice rub - you don't want to wash off what you got all nicely patted on there. But then carefully drizzle on your mop sauce throughout the cooking time. If you forget for an hour, nobody will care. But try to time out even coatings so that the ribs stay moist.
After two hours, flip the ribs, and repeat the mop saucing. When you turn the ribs, make sure to keep the thinner end still away from the heat source to your best ability. I know some grills are oddly shaped or round or oval or whatever - do your best.
The total grilling time should be about four hours. At the end of this time, carefully wiggle one of the ribs. You should see the meat pulling away, but you don't want the ribs actually 'falling' apart. Texture is critical in good ribs, and the tenderness needs a little more substance.
At this point, if you wish to caramelize the outside, then carefully apply a thin layer of good BBQ sauce to both sides. Turn the heat up, and give the ribs only about ten minutes per side. More than that and the sugars in the sauce will burn, instead of becoming one with the ribs. That's not luscious.
That's done! Allow your ribs to rest for about ten minutes once they come off the grill. They've been through a lot for you - give them that courtesy and you're bombshell!
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