Once a year – that’s it! Throughout my entire childhood, I was only ever privy to the gloriousness that are BBQ ribs a measly once every 365 days. They, like Christmas Eve Crab Chowder, were a special treat; they were a food my mom figured would lose their appeal – their “specialness” – if they were made with any greater frequency.
Though I understand her reasoning, the actual practice of abstaining from ribs for 99.7% of my childhood’s dinners wasn’t something I was too fond of – and I definitely let her know what I thought about it. The one day a year when I was finally allowed to shove my face full of tender, fall-off-the-bone deliciousness, I would go overboard in protest. That day was always my birthday (or at least the day when we’d be celebrating it) and celebrate I did! If my mother was only going to prepare ribs once a year, I wasn’t getting up from the table until it felt like it was no longer physically possible for me to do so. I was essentially saying to my mother, “I’ll eat what I think is a reasonably-sized year’s worth of ribs, whether over an actual year, or in one sitting – the choice is yours!”
So maybe I didn’t go that overboard, but there were definitely some birthdays where I was the last one left at the dinner table, a huge pile of bones in front of me and barbecue sauce everywhere, needing to be stripped to my birthday suit and hosed off. Well, maybe I wasn’t that messy, but you get the picture.
Though I love my mom’s version of BBQ ribs, I wanted to see what I could come up with on my own. The following is my first-ever attempt at BBQ ribs, which I couldn’t have managed without the assistance of my Gastro Grilling cookbook by Ted Reader (the same cookbook I used for my Grilled Mojo Chicken). In his book there is a small section on the best ways to cook ribs, as well as recipes for a number of different rib rubs. My spice mix is modeled after his “Bone Dust BBQ Spice”, though on a 1/3 scale (his version makes 2 1/2 cups, much more than needed here), and with a few additions and omissions (like smoked paprika, for a smokier flavor).
The ribs turned out beautifully, with a “you’d-think-they-were-smoked” smokiness, and a little kick of spice. They did take quite an investment time-wise (8 hours from start to finish, though only approximately 1 hour of actual work), but they were well worth it. Seriously, give them a try – you’re stomach will be glad you did.
Bull’s-Eye Dry Rub BBQ Ribs
For the Dry Rub:
- 2 tbsp. paprika
- 4 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 tsp. curry powder
- 2 tsp. ground mustard
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. chipotle powder
- 1 tsp. cayenne powder
- 2 pork back rib racks
- 1 onion, sliced
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed & roughly chopped
- 1 can of lager beer (I used Kokanee)
- olive oil
- ~ 1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (I used Bull’s-Eye Original)
- Combine all of the dry rub ingredients together in a bowl and stir until well-combined.
- Remove the membrane from the underside of the ribs, or score criss-cross with a sharp knife.
- Spoon over a generous amount of spice rub to both ribs, rubbing the mix in well. Make sure to add the rub to both sides, using roughly 3-4 tbsp. on each side of each rack. You’ll probably be left with a bit of the rub left over, which can be saved and used on other cuts of meat as well.
- Store the ribs in the fridge for at least 4 hours (up to a day) to allow the spices to soak into the meat.
- In a roasting pan or large casserole dish (I used my Mario Batali Enameled Cast Iron Deep Lasagna/Roaster), add the can of beer, onions, and garlic. Lay the ribs down overtop, meat side down. Cover the pan/dish with a layer of plastic wrap (fitted tight, with no holes), and then cover the plastic with tin foil.
- Slow-cook the ribs in the oven for 3-4 hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit
- Remove the ribs from the oven and allow to cool for approx. 10 minutes. Remove the tin foil and plastic wrap and allow to continue cooling for an additional 10-15 minutes.
- At this time, you may want to brush the ribs with the reserved liquid from cooking, removing some of the excess dry rub
- Heat your barbecue to around 425-450 degrees Fahrenheit and coat the grills with a small amount of olive oil to help avoid sticking.
- Place the ribs on the grill, meat side up, and liberally apply your BBQ sauce. Take about 30 seconds to a minute for each rib, making sure to coat them well. Cover the lid, and let the ribs cook for about 5 minutes (watch your heat, though – if it soars above 450, lift the lid and cook with it open or turn down the burners).
- Flip the ribs, and repeat the same process.
- Flip the ribs one last time and cook for about 1 minute longer, so the BBQ sauce you smothered on the underside gets a little grill love as well.
- Remove from grill and allow to cool just long enough so that you don’t burn your fingers when picking them up.
- Cut the ribs into individual portion sizes (unless a full rack IS your portion size)
- Make a mess of everything around you – your face, your fingers, your clothes, your dog – without caring whatsoever, because they’re that freaking good.
Serves 4-6 when exercising moderation, and 2 otherwise