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Lesson 10: Real Barbecued Ribs

Sarah Breckenridge; Video by Bruce Becker and Dariusz Kanarek; Editing by Cari Delahanty. Shot on location at the Dana Holcombe House, Newtown, CT.
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Lesson 10: Real Barbecued Ribs

Whether you’re already an accomplished griller or just a novice, grilling cookbook author Fred Thompson will turn you into a grill master in ten short episodes.

Fred’s barbecued baby back ribs are his most-requested recipe. It took him 20 years to develop it, and he still tinkers with it. In this episode, he shows you the tricks to the ultimate barbecued ribs. The key is starting them out with low, slow cooking in a steamy environment, which helps soften the meat. Then he finish them over higher heat to give them a nice seared crust.

Barbecued Rib Recipes
Fred's Finest Baby Back Ribs Apple-Bacon Barbecued Ribs (Gas Grill Version) Grilled Spareribs with Maple-Chipotle Glaze Margarita-Glazed Baby Back Ribs
Fred’s Finest Baby Back Ribs   Apple-Bacon Barbecued Ribs   Grilled Spareribs with Maple-Chipotle Glaze   Margarita-Glazed Baby Back Ribs

Prepping the ribs and the fire:
To start, you need to remove the membrane that clings to the bony side of the rib racks. It’s tough to chew through, and it also shrinks as it cooks, which will give your ribs a misshapen look. It’s easy to remove: just peel up one corner with a paring knife, then use a paper towel to firmly grasp the membrane, and tear it off.

Brush the meaty side of the rib rack with some mustard, and then sprinkle both sides with spice rub.

Whether you use a gas or charcoal grill, you’ll need to set it up for indirect cooking (see Lesson 3). For a gas grill, create 6 to 9 foil packets of soaked wood chips for smoking; add the first one to the hottest area of your grill once it’s preheated. For charcoal, have on hand about 6 cups of soaked chips and throw a handful on the coals once the fire’s good and hot. Put at least 1/4 cup apple cider in a spray bottle for basting the ribs.

Slow initial cooking
When the chips start smoking, place the ribs on the grill bone-side down. Turn your gas grill to low, and the charcoal grill should only be about 200 °F.

Every 20 to 30 minutes, add another packet or handful of woodchips to your fire chips to keep the smoke going. And every other time you change the packet, spritz the ribs with apple cider. This helps create steam inside the grill, which melts away the fat and keeps the meat tender and moist.

The ribs are ready for the next step when they bend almost 90 degrees when you lift them with a set of tongs.

An alternate method for slow-cooking
If the weather’s not cooperating, or you just don’t want to spend hours tending the grill, you can also do this low-and-slow initial cooking in your oven: Preheat the oven to 300 °F, and place the ribs in an aluminum roasting bag with 1/4 cup water or cider (you can also wrap them well in aluminum foil if you don’t have a roasting bag). Place the ribs on a baking sheet, and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let the ribs cool in their wrapper for at least 30 minutes.

Final sear and glaze
Now set up your grill for a direct fire. When the grill is hot, put the rib racks meaty-side down over direct heat, turn your gas grill burners down to medium, and close the lid. Sear for 15 minutes, then turn. Brush the seared side with barbecue sauce, cover, and continue to sear for another 10 minutes. Brush the same side with sauce again, cover, and cook for no more than 5 minutes. These successive brushings with sauce help it reduce down to a thick glaze on the meat.

Finally, drizzle the ribs with a little honey, and let them stay on the heat for a few minutes more until the honey turns into a sticky glaze, and they’re ready to serve.

More Barbecued Rib Recipes
Kansas City Style Barbecued Ribs
Slow-Cooked Memphis Ribs
Hoisin Barbecued Ribs
Barbecue-Braised Country Spareribs
Barbecue-Braised Vietnamese Short Ribs

Related Articles
Ingredient Profile: Baby Back Ribs
Ingredient Profile: Spareribs
Barbecuing Tender Ribs
Oven-Roasted Ribs 

Other lessons in this series
Classic Ultimate Burgers New York Strip Steaks with Blue Cheese Butter How to Start a Charcoal Fire
Lesson 1: The Perfect Burger
  Lesson 2: Great Steaks on the Grill   Lesson 3: How to Start a Charcoal Fire
The Two-Zone Fire Buttermilk Brined Chicken Breasts How to Add Smoke to a Gas Grill
Lesson 4: The Two-Zone Fire   Lesson 5: How to Grill Bone-In Chicken Parts   Lesson 6: How to Add Smoke to a Gas Grill
Grilled Fish Tacos Lump vs. Briquette Charcoal Fred's Ultimate Smoked Pork Shoulder
Lesson 7: How to Grill Fish   Lesson 8: Lump vs. Briquette Charcoal   Lesson 9: Slow-Smoked Pork Shoulder
Fred's Finest Baby Back Ribs    
Lesson 10: Real Barbecued Ribs        


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