When it comes to grilling a rack of ribs, there are primarily two routes to take: wet or dry. Most times it is easier to take the wet route, since basting meat with a sauce usually allows more room for error when cooking. But don’t be discouraged into thinking using a dry rub is by any means more difficult. In my opinion, both methods take about the same amount of work. The only difference is in the final results; dry rubbed pork ribs will (naturally, of course) be drier, with a bit of a crust on the meat. The trick is to slow-cook them over a low, indirect heat source. Cooked correctly, the pork will still be moist and tender, with the drier end bits tasting like a beautiful jerky. Also, a dry rub allows for more spices to penetrate the meat, resulting in robust flavor combinations. I often grill ribs in this fashion mostly because they aren’t so messy to eat compared to a saucy rib. Let’s face it; I’m a bit of a neat freak!
1 rack of pork ribs (3-4 pounds)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bottle of beer (optional: for basting and drinking while grilling)
1. Clean and trim any large excess of fat off the pork if needed. Leave some fat on the meat; it is what makes the ribs fall-off-the-bone-tender in the end. Pat dry with some paper towels, set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine together the brown sugar and all the other dry spices to make the dry rub. Using your hands (it’s the best way to do it), rub the spices onto both sides of the ribs. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours (3-4 hours is ideal).
3. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and let them sit out (20 minutes) to come up to room temperature as you set up the grill.
4. For a charcoal grill, start the coals and set them to one side of the grill. (If using a gas grill, turn on the burners on one side only.) Once the grill grates are hot, clean them with a grill brush to remove any leftover buildup from the previous grilling session. Make a non-stick cooking surface by dipping a small wad of paper towel into vegetable oil and running it along the grill grates.
5. Place the ribs onto the cooler side of the grill, with the meatier side of the ribs facing the heat source. Cover and cook for 2-3 hours, flipping every 30 minutes and drizzling with some beer each time to baste. The ribs will be done when the meat starts to pull away from the bone. Remove from grill, loosely cover with foil and allow to rest 10 minutes before cutting to separate the ribs.
6. Wasn’t that easy? Now go eat!
* Note on ribs: baby back ribs are cleaner to eat but have less meat. A St. Louis style rib has a few more bones and bits in it, and takes longer to cook, but is much more meatier.
* Feel free to make your own spice combination. There are so many flavors out there to try!
* Don’t want to grill? You can also slow-cook the ribs in a 275F oven.