Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dry rubbed grilled ribs

I thought I'd just post some outlines of how I like to do pork (spare)ribs. They take a lot of time to do right, but they turn out really well. I do the rub from memory more or less every time, but I find that certain things, like szechuan pepper, really add to it nicely.

Alex's Dry Rub:
1/2 c. brown sugar
1-2 Tbsp. Szechuan peppercorn, smooshed a bit in mortar and pestle
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp.+ salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 tsp. white pepper (I haven't tried this yet since I forgot, but it's probably a good addition)
1/4-1/2 tsp. cayanne pepper

Mix everything together, then coat the outside of the ribs. Let sit overnight wrapped in plastic wrap (unless you have a container large enough to hold a whole rack of ribs.

Cooking the Ribs:
So I know there are a lot of ways to cook the ribs, but the way I prefer is to just put them on the grill at a pretty low temperature for about 2-4 hours (the longer, the flakier the meat will be). It helps that my house has a fancy gas grill with a thermometer, so I can keep things pretty controlled. I just put the ribs straight on the grill, no tin foil, and I try to keep the temperature on the thermometer on the front of the grill between 250-300 degrees. I think you could probably replicate this in the oven, but if you're using coals I think you'll probably want to do some fancy stuff to make the heat more indirect.

It takes a long time, but it really doesn't need much attention - I turn the ribs every half an hour or so. The important thing is making sure to get everything started in time for the party.


NoneMoreBlack said...

Doing a long slow roast sub-200 degrees over charcoal would be hot-smoking, which is the classic BBQ rib, and is ideal. This will usually run you 5-6 hours, and a boatload of charcoal/wood chips. This also requires some kind of spacious smoking setup, especially one with a remote fire-box.

Sub-300 degrees is known as "smoke roasting" and is almost as good. This is closer to the 3-4 hour mark, and is much easier to achieve in something like a Weber, although it is basically impossible to do more than 1 rack and it is pretty high maintenance. The method would be to stack up the charcoal on one side and place a pan full of water underneath the ribs, and carefully monitor them to ensure that the side closer to the coals does not blacken. You can try to get fancy with aluminum foil, but this is generally an exercise in frustration.

If neither of these methods is feasible, the best way to get easy ribs that taste at least somewhat of smoke is: 1) apply any seasonings/marinades/rubs 2) cook covered at 350 in the oven for 3-4 hours, until you can poke your finger through the meat like tissue paper 3) finish over a very hot charcoal grill for smoke flavor and crispy bits around the edges.

The method described here of cooking them in a covered gas grill simply replicates the oven. In my opinion it is a good deal easier to bake them and then finish on high heat. This is just as easy in the oven as on a grill if you are not using charcoal.

These methods apply to virtually every cut of pork, except dry pieces of shit like boneless loin.

The Middle Child said...

Thanks for the helpful additions - I felt like the blog needed at least some more detailed discussions of rib cooking technique.

I know my method is very similar to oven cooking, but there are two good reasons not to cook it inside: It's ungodly hot here, and I'd rather not heat up the house more than I need to; and it makes fewer dirty dishes.

It doesn't necessarily produce the same kind of smoked flavor as a proper smoking, but since I'm in the land of smoked ribs, it's nice to get a break from that.