Ribs on the Grill

Delicious and messy to eat, ribs are a treat perfect for outdoor meals!

By FamilyTime


Eating grilled ribs is a summertime ritual. No forks and knives need apply for service when ribs are on the table - pick them up in your fingers and pull the bones apart as you nibble the tender meat.

Spareribs and baby backs are the most popular ribs for the grill. Both are pork ribs with sweet, succulent meat and bones small enough for easy handling.

Regardless of how much we love ribs, they are not easy to grill. The most common mistake backyard grill chefs make is to cook the ribs directly over hot coals. They need gentler cooking.

Selecting Ribs
Spareribs is a catchall phrase for the breast and rib bones from the lower part of the center section of the hog. A classic rack of spareribs has 12 ribs, although depending on how the butcher trims it, there may be fewer. This size rack weighs as much as three pounds.

Smaller baby back ribs are loin ribs from the back area of a young hog and are utterly delicious. They have from 11 to 13 rib bones and a rack generally weighs only about a pound or so (if they're heavier they really shouldn't be called baby backs).

Whether you are planning to serve spareribs or baby back ribs, figure on at least four ribs per serving.

Always buy refrigerated meat and transfer it to your own refrigerator as soon as you get home. Most of us buy meat from the supermarket, and so we recommend choosing it last when you shop so that it's at room temperature for the shortest period of time.

The only time it's advisable to hold meat at room temperature is for about 30 minutes right before you cook it. It will grill more evenly and the results will be tastier and juicier.

Cooking Ribs
Pastes, rubs, and marinades are great for ribs. The rib meat absorbs flavors more completely than thicker cuts of meat so that the flavor shines through.

For advance preparation, the ribs can be spread with the rub or paste or soaked in a marinade for as long as 24 hours and for at least five or six hours. Be sure to refrigerate ribs during this time.

Par-cook ribs by braising them in the oven. Wrap them in foil or contain them in a covered roasting pan and bake them in a low oven for about one and a half to two hours. Finish them on the grill, away from the coals, to give them the smoky flavor that cannot be achieved any other way. Depending on how long they were in the oven, this can take from 30 to 40 minutes, or longer.

If you are game and have the time, cook the ribs without par-cooking. Build the fire and arrange the coals for indirect grilling. Let the coals get hot, which means they should be barely covered with gray ash and have a deep red glow. The temperature range for these coals is between 400° and 450° F.

Let the ribs sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before grilling.

Lay the ribs, meat side down on a well-oiled grill rack over the hot coals and sear for about 10 minutes or until there are defined grill marks. Move the ribs to the cooler part of the grill, away from the coals, cover, and let the ribs cook for about one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half hours. Turn them with long-handled tongs every 15 or 20 minutes.

You will have to add fresh coals to the fire to maintain the heat at medium. Never let it get too hot. If using a gas grill, reduce the heat to medium after searing the ribs and turn off the burner directly under the ribs.

Lift them from the grill, brush them with sauce, let them stand for about 15 minutes, and then serve. Get ready for great eats!