When we moved to St. Louis in 1986, we quickly jumped on the barbecue-loving train. This is a barbecue town, to be sure, and baby back ribs have been a particular favorite in my family. They were often on our menu, along with potato salad and corn-on-the-cob, for summer celebrations like the 4th of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day.
For years I made them by parboiling the ribs in seasoned water, basting them with barbecue sauce, and browning them on the grill. I was perfectly happy with that method until we were on a family vacation in New Hampshire where my son, Bracken (pictured below), made ribs by seasoning them with a dry rub, wrapping them in foil, and slow-baking them in the oven. He finished them off with a barbecue sauce baste and browned them on the grill. Fantastic! My rib-making method was forever changed after that. Ribs made this way take a bit longer, but most of the time is hands-off while they slow-bake in the oven. They self-baste in their own juices as they bake; the result is extraordinarily tender and flavorful ribs. Simply the best.
A YEAR-ROUND RECIPE. Ribs are often considered to be summer food for grilling season, but this recipe can be made throughout the year. You can use a combination of the oven and grill in warmer months or cook them entirely inside with the oven and broiler when it's cold or wet outside. They're fabulous either way.
INGREDIENT SHORTCUTS. I use my homemade barbeque sauce and 14-spice dry rub since I keep them on hand in my pantry. However, there are excellent grocery store options for both of these that will save time. Either way--homemade or purchased sauce and dry rub--this easy recipe turns out great.
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients:
Step 2. Place rib slabs meat side down and remove the silverskin membrane. If left on, the tough membrane will block the dry rub and basting sauce from flavoring the meat. If it's too slippery and hard to remove, try grabbing it with a paper towel. Here's a video I found that demonstrates how: Easy Rib Skin Removal Trick
Step 3. Place each slab of ribs on a separate large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Sprinkle the entire surface of both sides of the ribs with an even coat of dry rub seasoning. Rub it in.
Step 4. Fold the aluminum foil carefully so it creates sealed packets that won't leak. First, pull up the long sides of the foil, bringing them together over the center, and folding then together several times until they are tight against the ribs. Roll up the sides of foil until tight against ends of slabs.
Step 5. Place each slab on a large baking sheet. This will catch and contain any unintentional leaks and keep them stable so they are easy to get in and out of the oven.
view on Amazon: 13-18" half-sheet pan (comes with a lid)
Step 6. Bake low and slow at 250°F for 2-1/2 to 3 hours until tender when pierced with a fork. After doing the fork test, reseal the foil. Remove the ribs from the oven and let them rest 10-15 minutes until you can safely touch the foil.
Step 7. There will be delicious juices from the seasoned meat that has accumulated in the bottom of the foil packet. This will become part of the basting sauce. Place a bowl inside the baking sheet (to catch any drips), rest a slab foil packet centered over the bowl, and cut a small hole in the lower center area of foil to drain cooking liquid from the foil packet into the bowl. Repeat with the second slab.
Remove as much fat as possible from the liquid; you should have approximately 3/4 to 1 cup of liquid. (I use a grease separator to easily remove the grease.)
Step 8. Add an equal amount of barbecue sauce to the liquid and whisk them together to make a basting sauce.
Step 9. Cut rib slabs into pieces, approx. 3 ribs per piece. This size is easy to grill and serve.
Step 10. Brush each side with the basting sauce.
Step 11. Brown the basted ribs on either a grill or under the oven broiler.
TO FINISH ON GRILL: Preheat the grill on high heat. Clean grates and use tongs to dip a bunched paper towel in oil and use it to oil grates. (Read more about this in my post, How to Prevent Food From Sticking To The Grill)
Grill the ribs pieces directly on grates or mats, flipping them when charred to your liking and basting with more sauce as needed. These can burn quickly, so keep an eye on them.
TO FINISH UNDER OVEN BROILER: Preheat the oven broiler on high. Place rib sections in a single layer on a baking/broiling tray approx. 5-inches below the broiler. Cook ribs until charred to your liking, baste and flip each piece; return to the broiler to char the other side. Baste with more sauce, as needed.
Remove grilled or broiled ribs to a platter and serve with extra barbecue sauce on the side. I find them easier to serve if they are left in 3-rib sections. Everyone can cut their own single ribs apart before eating them. Those are some tasty ribs!
2 MAKE-AHEAD OPTIONS:
view on Amazon: 13-18" half-sheet pan (with a lid for easy fridge storage)
These ribs are a family favorite alongside these recipes:
Thanks to Bracken for teaching this old mother new tricks. These ribs are the finger-lickin' best.
Make it a Yummy day!