There’s just something about ribs. The whole process of preparing and eating them is laborious. It takes hours of work to do it properly. Seasoning, marinating, and slow cooking. All of this takes time and foresight. Eating them can be even worse as it can’t be done with utensils, delicious meat gets stuck in your teeth, and you better hope someone had the foresight to get wet wipes (no one ever remembers wipes) and dental floss because you’ll get sticky sauce all over you face and ‘cue stuck in your teeth.
They’re so SO good we do this willingly. My friend Diana had her birthday recently. In what has become a three year running tradition we have a cookout where I make a big load of ribs. The first time Diana had a birthday while I was in Portland, (living in Santa Barbara haden’t moved to Portland yet) I offered to cook something and she asked for ribs. I had to interject “whoa!” I don’t think you know what you’re asking. I’ll do it, but I take these VERY seriously”. But Diana treated my concerns with the proper gravitas and here we are three years later making the same thing using my same recipe. I’ve developed it over a few years and while it’s labor intensive it make perfect ribs every time.
Start with the cheapest ribs possible. I like pork ribs for flavor but this recipe works with beef ribs too if you like those or are kosher.
Next, throw tons of dry spices on to the ribs and press it in. I use garlic salt, chili powder, lemon pepper and a bunch of the cheap seasoning mix from a Mexican market that’s mostly garlic and onion powder. Again, this is all about cheap stuff, so bulk spices only. Next, wrap it all really tightly in heavy duty foil and leave it in the fridge for at least a day.
Next, before grilling you have to get it cooked through. While it’s possible to slow cook ribs on a grill, it requires special setups and usually charcoal that’s easy to screw up. So I vastly prefer to start the ribs in the oven. 3 hours at 250 degrees maintains a good chewiness while not disintegrating the meat. More time will make it more tender of course, but at the cost of making the meat fall apart, which no one wants.
3 hours and change later and you’ll have totally ready to eat ribs. But not so fast! You still need to get that nice crispy texture and BBQ sauce. So next up is grilling. Charcoal is better of course but gas is a lot easier and the ribs won’t really be on the grill long enough to pick up any smokey flavors.
Get the grill good and hot. Smear a large amount of you favorite sauce (my favorite is Sweet Baby Ray’s) on the ribs and give them about 5 minutes on each side until it gets good and crispy and caramelized.
After that, a little more fresh sauce for that tangy flavor, carve them up and serve. That’s it. Then bask in the adoration of the masses. Serve with whatever sides your guest brought. I like macaroni salad or coleslaw. Enjoy!