There’s nothing more satisfyingly messy than finishing off a plate of baby back ribs. Whether you like your ribs with a dry rub or slathered with a tangy barbecue sauce, your baby back ribs will turn out perfectly tender and tasty.
For all three of these methods, you can use the following rub — or create a variation of your own! The following rub is enough for one slab of ribs:
- 50 mL (1/4 cup) kosher salt
- 50 mL (1/4 cup) packed brown sugar
- 25 mL (1/8 cup) hot Hungarian paprika
- 25 mL (1/8 cup) chilli powder
- 15 mL (1 tbsp) onion powder
- 15 mL (1 tbsp) garlic powder
- 7 mL (1/2 tbsp) cayenne
- 7 mL (1/2 tbsp) thyme
- 15 mL (1 tbsp) instant espresso
Just whisk all of these together in a medium bowl for a tasty, perfect dry rub on any rack of ribs.
Boiling your ribs beforehand can help speed up the process, as it will evenly cook the ribs in the water.
Time: 1 1/2 hours (with baking/broiling finish)
Difficulty: Very easy
- Remove the inner silverskin (membrane) from the back of the rack by slipping a butter knife beneath it and loosening it enough that you can pull it off by hand (using a paper towel can also help with the grip)
- Cut the rack to an appropriate size (3-4 ribs works perfectly) so the meat can be completely submerged
- Place the pieces in a stew/stockpot and fill with enough cold water to completely submerge the ribs
- Add in a little salt and any dry seasonings
- Bring water to a rolling boil, and then reduce heat
- Let ribs simmer for 45 minutes to an hour or when the ribs are no longer pink
- Remove the ribs from the water onto an aluminium foil-lined baking tray
At this point, you can choose to wrap the ribs up in the foil and refrigerate them for up to 24 hours or put them into an oven or onto the grill.
If the weather doesn’t permit breaking out the barbecue, you can make delicious, tender ribs in the oven, too. Just make sure you have the time, as the name of the game is slow and steady for baking them in the oven.
Time: 3 hours
- Preheat the oven to 120 C (250 F)
- Remove the silverskin using the instructions above
- Cut the rack into thirds
- Apply the dry rub onto the meat
- Wrap each piece separately — and tightly — with aluminium foil
- Put the wrapped pockets on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for up to 3 hours
- Remove ribs from the oven and foil packets and slather on barbecue sauce and broil or transfer to the grill
There’s nothing quite like grilling ribs. The smell, the texture and, of course, the taste all come together in a dish that’s as fun to eat as it is to cook. The trick here is to use “indirect heat” — meaning the flame in the grill is to one side while the meat is on the other. This will allow you the “low and slow” style of cooking that ribs benefit from so much.
If you intend to start and finish your ribs on the grill, your barbecue will need a lid and also enough space so that you can adjust where the flame is.
Time: 2 1/2 hours
- Insert a heatproof pan (a drip pan) half full of water below the grates on the side on which you will grill the ribs
- Bring the grill to 100 – 120 C (220 – 225 F) with the heat only on one side
- Remove the silverskin of the ribs as described in the “parboiling” method
- Cut the ribs to size and add the dry rub
- Place the ribs on the side of the grill without a direct heat source beneath it
- Grill for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until meat is tender
- Add barbecue sauce in the last 20 minutes on the grill to prevent burning
Tip: When judging the doneness of the meat, don’t go on colour alone. Barbecued ribs often are pink on the inside due to a “smoke ring.” It’s perfectly cooked and OK to eat.
Have a ribs recipe of your own? Share it with the community in the comments section below!