First Timer's Ribs

FIRST-TIMER’S RIBS


Source: Best Ribs Ever by Steven Raichlen

Method: Indirect grilling followed by direct grilling
Serves: 4

For the mop sauce:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup apple cider
3 tablespoons bourbon, or 3 more tablespoons apple cider

For the rub and ribs:
2 tablespoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard (preferably Colman’s)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon celery seed

2 racks baby back pork ribs (4 to 5 pounds total)
Lemon Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce (see recipe below)

You’ll also need:
1-1/2 cups wood chips or chunks (preferably hickory or apple), soaked for 1 hour in
   water to cover, then drained; barbecue mop or spray bottle

Make the mop sauce: Melt the butter in a nonreactive saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the cider, bourbon, and soy sauce.  Keep warm until ready to use.

Make the rub: Place the salt, brown sugar, paprika, pepper, mustard, garlic powder, and celery seed in a small bowl and mix with your fingers, breaking up any lumps in the brown sugar or garlic powder.

Prepare the ribs: Place a rack of ribs meat side down on a baking sheet.  Remove the thin, papery membrane from the back of the rack by inserting a slender implement, such as a butter knife or the tip of a meat thermometer, under it.  The best place to start is on one of the middle bones.  Using a dishcloth, paper towel, or pliers to gain a secure grip, peel off the membrane.  Repeat with the remaining rack.

Set aside 1 tablespoon of the rub for serving.  Sprinkle the remaining rub over both sides of the ribs, rubbing it onto the meat.  Cover the ribs with plastic wrap and refrigerate them while you set up the grill.

Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium (325 to 350 degrees F).  Place a large drip pan in the center of the grill under the grate.

When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate.  Place the ribs, bone side down, in the center of the grate over the drip pan and away from the heat.  (If your grill has limited space, stand the racks of ribs upright in a rib rack.)  If cooking on a charcoal grill, toss half of the wood chips on each mound of coals.  Cover the grill and cook the ribs for 45 minutes.

Mop the ribs on both sides with the mop sauce.  Re-cover the grill and continue cooking the ribs until well browned, cooked through, and tender enough to pull apart with your fingers, 45 minutes to 1 hour longer, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours in all, mopping once or twice more.  When the ribs are cooked, the meat will have shrunk back from the ends of the bones by about 1/4 inch.  If using a charcoal grill, replenish the coals as needed.

Just before serving, brush the ribs on both sides with Lemon Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce and move them directly over the fire.  Grill the ribs until the barbecue sauce is browned and bubbling, 1 to 3 minutes per side.

Transfer the ribs to a large platter or cutting board.  Let the ribs rest for a few minutes, then cut the racks in half or into individual ribs.  Serve the ribs at once with the remaining barbecue sauce on the side.  Serve the reserved rub on the side.


SUB-RECIPE: LEMON BROWN SUGAR BARBECUE SAUCE


Yield: About 3 cups

2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 teaspoons dry mustard (Coleman’s)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and whisk to mix. Gradually bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat, and continue to simmer until thick and flavorful, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl or clean jars; let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time.

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