The Best Way to Cook BBQ Ribs
As spring turns to summer and BBQ grills are wheeled out of their winter resting places, dusted off, and scraped of last year’s rust and grease, the urge to fire up the grill becomes too strong to resist. But do try to resist long enough to read this article.
A few things I’m going to say in this article about the best way to cook bbq ribs will seem like blasphemy, but in the end you will thank me. And the rest of your bbq guests will too.
The key to the best way to cook bbq ribs is taking things very, very slowly. These aren’t burgers – you can’t toss them on a hot grill, flip them twice, slather on some sauce, and serve them up hot, dripping, and perfect. You will want to cook these for several HOURS.
Here’s what happens if you try to cook them too fast: you will end up with charred meat sticks devoid of moisture OR you will have burnt ribs on the outside and undercooked pork on the bone. Neither result is acceptable for a bbq impresario like your friends believe you are!
Here’s my solution from back in the days when I was a cook at a guest ranch in Wyoming: the best way to cook bbq ribs is by pre-cooking the ribs in the oven for at least 90 minutes. This is where you can apply some really great rubs and a steam bath to lock in the moisture. (It’s as simple as cooking them at around 220 degrees F in a large aluminum pan with whatever liquid concoction you see fit. I’ve used apples and/or apple juice, beer, etc.).
This may sound like you’re breaking the rules, but when you finally get the ribs on the bbq and set about the grilling process, your guests will be very happy that they don’t have to wait another 4 hours.
“The key to the best way to cook bbq ribs is taking things very, very slowly. These aren’t burgers – you can’t toss them on a hot grill, flip them twice, slather on some sauce, and serve them up hot, dripping, and perfect.”
Again, you’re going to want to apply as much patience as you can. Keep the grill temperature very low – around 200-250 degrees F. This will ensure even cooking and retained moisture. If you want the meat to fall off the bones when they’re being eaten, you’ll want to cook the ribs on the periphery of the grill and keep a steam pan with water under the grill off to one side. With the lid of the grill shut except when you wish to apply more thinned-out barbecue sauce with a vinegar or water base (sometimes called a mop), you will be sure to have the most tender ribs your guests have ever eaten.
The best way to cook bbq ribs, in my opinion, is to keep them on the grill for half the time they are being cooked, maximum. Use your oven first to seal in the natural flavor of the ribs and to add the initial rub. This also allows you to “set it and forget it,” so to speak.
Trust me, when the purists in the crowd get their first taste of your tender, moist ribs, they won’t dare criticize your choice or call you a heretic.
Yes, grilling can be called an art, but when a little science is applied, your results will be much more consistent time after time.