To oven-roast the ribs:
Preheat your oven to 300°F.
Rinse the ribs and pat them dry. Remove the membranes from the back of the ribs. Place the ribs on a baking sheet and brush the ribs generously with the mustard. Combine the sugar, paprika, chili powder, cayenne, and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle this mixture over both sides of the ribs. Grind fresh pepper over the ribs.
Place the ribs in an aluminum roasting bag and add the water. Seal the bag tightly, place on a baking sheet, and put in the oven. Slowly cook the ribs for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the bag from the oven and let the ribs cool in the roasting bag for 30 minutes. Open the bag away from you in case there is residual steam. The ribs are ready for the next step when you can grab them with a pair of tongs, lift them up, and they bend easily.
OR to grill-roast the ribs:
Set up your grill for indirect cooking. Add some wood chips or hunks of wood, like hickory or oak, to your smoke box, or make a foil-smoking packet. Let some smoke build in your grill, then place the ribs (brushed with the mustard and rub) on the grill, bone side down, and adjust the temperature to low. You want the temperature to stay at about 200°F, so check with an oven thermometer. Smoke for about 3 hours, replenishing the wood chips as needed. About every 45 minutes, spray the ribs with apple cider. The ribs are ready for the next step when you can grab them with a pair of tongs, lift them up, and they bend easily.
To finish the ribs:
Oil the grill racks. Preheat your grill using all burners set on high and with the lid closed for 10 to 12 minutes.
When the grill is hot, reduce the heat to medium and place the ribs, meaty side down, on the grill. Close the lid and cook for about 15 minutes, then turn. Brush the seared side with the barbecue sauce, cover again, and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes. Turn, brush with sauce, cover, and let them enjoy the heat for another 10 minutes. Brush the same side with sauce again, cover, and cook for no more than 5 minutes. Uncover, drizzle the ribs with the honey, and let them stay on the heat a couple of minutes more to allow the honey to glaze. Remove and serve to hoots and hollers.
Make Ahead Tips
You can grill- or oven-roast the ribs several days ahead and even freeze them. If you do freeze them, let them cool completely (in the roasting bag, if they're oven-roasted) then drain off any liquid, wrap them well in foil or the roasting bag, and stick them in the freezer. Thaw before finishing the ribs.
Photo: Ben Fink