How to Grill Ribs Techniques

I was not a huge fan of ribs until I found the proper barbecue sauce to go with them. For me that sauce was Corky’s, for you it may be something else, but the perfect balance between sauce and meat made me fall in love with ribs. Anyway this article is about a three different cooking techniques that are used to cook pork ribs, not the rib recipes themselves.

Part 1

This first cooking method is used by a famous barbecue joint for their “Dry Rub” style ribs, but it should be easily adapted to sauced ribs.

First you need to prepare a mop: For this you’ll need a 50/50 mix of white distilled vinegar (you should be able to sub another vinegar type) and water and add enough of your rub for flavor. Do not rub the ribs before cooking it will just wash off with the mop anyway.

Preheat your grill: You are looking for around 325 to 350, this should be low to medium heat. Place the ribs directly over the heat on the upper rack (up to 18″ above the heat or as high as you can get) bone side down until bone side is golden brown (around 30 minutes) . Baste every 10 minutes or twice, get them good and wet. Flip the ribs and cook until the meat is to hot to touch and mop one more time. I would guess that the meat should also be pulling away from the bone at this point.

Now I have always been a fan of low and slow but if this works I could be cooking ribs every night. This technique is for loin back ribs, you would need to cut back cooking times for baby backs and probably baste more often. I would modify this by adding sauce the last 10 minutes on the grill.

Part 2

This technique is from yet another famous barbecue restaurant and is used for sauced ribs or wet ribs. It is designed for use with St. Louis style ribs but could be tweaked for baby backs.
After you have prepared your ribs (rinsed, removed the membrane and added your rub) place on a 250 degree grill (an indirect smoker is best) set up for indirect heat, grill meat side up for 3 hours. After the first 3 hours flip the ribs to meat side down and increase the temperature to 300 degrees for another 2 1/2 hours. Then sauce the ribs for the last 30 minutes of cooking time.

Note: there is no basting or moping of any kind here, also they do no mention the type of wood used to cook them, if any. I guess all great chefs like to have their secrets.

This method may produce awesome ribs but I will probably never find out. I consider myself to be a patient man, but no way am I waiting 6 hours to sink my teeth into ribs. I have waited for 4 hours, but I was ready to eat them after two.

Part 3

This technique is what I use, I read about this from the author of a cookbook and tweaked it to suit my taste. This is suited for baby backs but may be tweaked for larger slabs, cooking time 3 to 4 hours.

Take your prepared ribs (see above) and place them, meat side up on a 225 degree grill set up for indirect heat. I use a drip pan filled with 50/50 water and vinegar for steam, and apple wood chips in a smoker box for smoke. Baste the ribs with the water/vinegar mix every half hour.

Let them cook this way for 2 hours, then wrap the ribs tightly in foil with some of the water vinegar mix place back onto the grill for another hour. If you like your ribs “fall off the bone” remove from foil place over direct heat and add barbecue sauce. Let that cook in for 3 to 5 minutes.

If you prefer some chew to your ribs place them back over the indirect heat for another hour max, this tightens the meat back up. They may be removed at anytime during that hour to get the texture you desire. Then to the direct heat and add your sauce. The water vinegar mix may be replace with apple juice.

Experiment with different cooking techniques until you find the one that produces the best tasting ribs for you.


About the author: Mike is the owner of 4thegrill.com, a Certified Food Safety Professional and KCBS member.

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