I love ribs. I love eating them so much that it’s been many a year since I’ve been able to see my own, if you catch my drift. And after two hours of hitting the ultimate frisbee field I want to gnaw on ribs a whole hell of a lot more.
I maintain my love of ribs by having them once every two months or less. As we all know, absence makes the heart grow fonder…or less clogged with rib fat, one of the two. The real problem with ribs is that from the moment you decide you’re going to cook them, you hunger for them, and they are not the fastest meal to be had. And there’s a million ways to flavor and cook them!
Should I baste with beer? Apple juice? Cider?
To mop or not to mop?
To grill or use ye olde oven?
What’s a girl to do?!
Well, this girl likes her ribs differently than her boyfriend, so it’s easy. Every time my guy and I make ribs, we make two racks and cook them completely differently. And then we share because that’s true love.
I love St. Louis ribs. This is a particular cut that’s a little less fatty than the spare rib cut, but still thick and meaty. Chip, the aforementioned boyfriend, prefers spare ribs, but today he decided to go with a baby back rack. I like my ribs moist but not sauced so I use a mop. Chip prefers his ribs juicy, but likes a smokier flavor, so he sticks to a grill and periodically uses a spray bottle to wet his ribs, using less liquid and frequency than my mopping.
These are my ribs (in the rub) versus Chip’s naked baby backs.
We’ll start with the break down of my St. Louis cut ribs:
1 TBSP Paprika
1 TBSP Garlic powder
1 TBSP salt
1/2 TBSP ground pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 TBSP Ginger
2 TBSP brown sugar
To prep my ribs I washed and dried them. I did not trim them at all, choosing to leave the silver skin on the bottom of the ribs keeps the ribs together while I slowly cook the crap out of them. I then rubbed every last molecule of the spice mixture over the back and top of my ribs; I want a nice crust.
After the rub, came the assembling of my mop.
Playing off the Asian theme the ginger in the rub adds, I went with…
The juice of one lemon
The juice of one lime
1/4 cup Rice vinegar
1/4 cup white wine
To cook my ribs I went with a fairly unorthodox method. As I mentioned, Boyfriend does his ribs on our gas grill. I’m not anti-grill, but I do like slow and low ribs – slow cooked at a low temperature. I don’t want to meat to fall off the bone; I want it to pull away. But I also like a dark crust. Remedy: I got my ribs all rubbed up and put them meat side down on a hot, hot grill for 5 minutes. That’s all it takes. Put those ribs down, close the lid, and don’t touch for 5 minutes.
Once they got a char I pulled them, put them meat side up in a cookie sheet on a flat rack and mopped away, about 2 tablespoons of my mop to coat the ribs. This means I’ll have char, I’ll have a crust, and the rib coating will be glossy and tasty. I put an additional 3 tables spoon of my rub onto the cookie sheet and covered in tin foil in order to maintain a moist cooking environment. You can also use beer or apple juice; either, like my mop, will add extra flavor.
After the 5 minute stint on the grill I baked my ribs at 500 for 15 minutes and then turned the oven down to 250. I continued cooking for an addition 1 1/2, mopping every 20 minutes. You want the internal temperature of the ribs to be 180-200 degrees. Yes, I spent the afternoon being a slave to my ribs.
And it was worth it.
And then there were Chip’s ribs, the man ribs. Chip cooked his baby backs on a hot gas grill. Prep went the same way: wash, dry, and season; he seasoned, meaning he sprinkled each on top of the rack, rather than making a thick rub. Chip season with…
1/2 TBSP of the following: Paprika, salt, black pepper, and garlic.
Then Chip made a moisturizer:
1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 TBSP yellow mustard
1 1/2 TBSP ketchup
He whisked everything together and poured into a spray bottle. To create a moist and smokey environment on the grill, Chip put mesquite chips into a small tin pan and soaked them in red wine, which he placed on the bars directly above the burners at the back left of the grill. The grill was heated to 500 and he placed his ribs meat side down, closed the lid, and let them go for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, Chip turned the heat down to 400, flipped the ribs meat side up, sprayed them with the moisturizer and closed the lid. Every 15 minutes Chip sprayed.
…And there was one flare up, but he kept the paparazzi at bay.
Chip is no stranger to fire. Below is a picture of a tater tot from the last time he made them with dinner. It was honestly glowing red hot when I found it.
Because Chip’s baby back rack was smaller and he used a higher heat, they were only on the grill for 1 hour and fifteen minutes. Again, he went with internal temperature over a specific cook time.
So, that’s it! We cooked the crap out of our ribs, two separate ways, both came out delicious. We ate entirely too much with salad as a side, and beer for refreshment.