Servings: six to eight
The smoky-sweet-spicy flavor of this rub and sauce is a classic complement for pork ribs, the perfect celebratory meal for Father’s Day or any barbecue. You can use either spareribs or baby back ribs for this recipe; baby backs will require about an hour less cooking time. To make these ribs on a charcoal grill, see the charcoal version of the recipe.
And, visit the Guide to Grilling for hundreds more recipes for ribs, beef, chicken, fish, and vegetables.
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Drain the wood chips.
If your grill has a smoker box, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for lighting the wood chips and heat one of the grill’s burners on high (for indirect heat). If your grill doesn’t have a smoker box, lay the chips evenly inside a small disposable aluminum drip pan. Cover the pan with foil. Poke 10 to 15 holes in the foil. Remove the cooking grate from the grill. With the lid open, light the grill with all burners on high. Close the lid and heat the grill for 10 to 15 minutes.
Using tongs or an insulated mitt, set the pan of wood chips in one of the rear corners of the grill, right over a lit burner or two (or over the steel bars covering the burners). Replace the cooking grate. Close the lid and wait until smoke pours out of the chip pan, usually 20 to 30 minutes. Then turn off all the burners except the one just below the chips
Carefully set the rib rack on the side of the cooking grate opposite the lit burner, with the bone sides of the racks facing the lit burner. (The bones will protect the meat from cooking too quickly.) Close the lid and adjust the remaining burner until the temperature is 300ºF—this could require a low, medium, or high setting, depending on your grill. Smoke the ribs for 1 hour for baby backs, 2 hours for spareribs. During this initial cooking, prepare the mop and sauce.
When the rib meat has shrunk 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the ends of several bones, lift each rib rack one at a time from the metal rack, holding the meat at one end with tongs. Turn the ribs bone side up and let them hang so that the weight of the other end bends the rack in an arc. If the meat separates and tears easily near the middle of the arc (see photo), that rack is fully cooked. Some racks take longer than others, as long as 4 hours total cooking time for baby backs and 5 hours for spareribs.
As each rack of ribs is fully cooked, lay it on a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Lightly brush the ribs on both sides with the sauce—you may not need it all. Then wrap each rack individually in the foil. Let them sit at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes for baby backs and 30 to 45 minutes for spareribs. Unwrap the racks, cut them into individual ribs, and serve warm.
You don’t need to make the barbecue sauce until the ribs start their initial cooking.
These ribs are fabulous! I had printed out the gas grill version, but my husband decided that he wanted to make them on our charcoal grill, so he printed out the charcoal version. I was worried that these might be too sweet, but they weren't at all. I did decide to use 1 1/2 tsp. of ancho chile powder, and 1/2 tsp. chipotle chile powder in the rub, rather than using all ancho chile powder, and 1/4 tsp. ancho chile powder, and 1/4 tsp. chipotle chile powder in the barbecue sauce. The ribs had a beautiful balance of slightly sweet and slightly spicy, and, of course they were deliciously smoky due to the use of hickory chunks. We will definitely be making these many times over.
We have tried countless rib recipes and this one is the best ever.It will be the standard to which every future recipe must measure up to.
This is kind of a "partial" rate because I just made the bbq sauce to use with a pork tenderloin that I grilled, not the ribs. The sauce was delicious. I added some chipotle in adobe that I had on hand. I'll try the whole recipe one day soon but for now, I've added the apple-bacon bbq sauce to my recipe book. Delicious!
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