Looking to master pork ribs? Check out our tips and tricks for preparing the best BBQ ribs on the planet. The most important factor? Go Ibérico. Campo Grande's St. Louis Ribs are the right way to start off with a high quality product, which means perfection is all that much closer.
Tips for Making BBQ Ribs
Preparing BBQ ribs is something of an art form that requires instruction and practice. But following a few simple instructions is bound to deliver juicy, tender ribs that fall right off the bone. Here's how to get it done:
Choose the Right Ribs
Choosing the right ribs is key to your success. There are a few cuts of pork ribs from different areas of the pig you can choose from, and the cuts can even vary depending on how the pig is butchered. For example, Spain and the USA have different forms of butchering pigs. St. Louis Ribs, for example are that essential American-style you think of when you think fall-apart BBQ ribs. A 4-Rib Rack is like a classic pork prime rib.
The most important factor is to seek out the best quality pork you can find. Ibérico of course, is our recommendation. Here we're focusing more on St. Louis-style ribs.
Build the Great Flavors and Sauces for Ribs
To make the best BBQ ribs and take them to the next level, you want to create layers of flavors that compliment the rich fat of the pork.
The first step is to coat the ribs with Dijon mustard and gently massage it into the meat. Then continue on with a rub, mixing together brown sugar, salt, pepper, chili powder, and celery seeds.
Once the ribs are cooking we also recommend drizzling on some apple cider vinegar to help soften the meat and keep it juicy. And right before you remove the ribs from the grill, brush on a homemade barbecue sauce for that final punch. This combination of sauces and rubs creates a magnificent harmony of flavors that also keeps the meat exceptionally tender.
Cook Ribs Low and Slow Over Indirect Heat
The best way to prepare BBQ ribs is to cook them low and slow on the grill, over indirect heat. To cook low and slow, you can use any kind of grill, but wood will offer the best flavors over time.
Place a tray in the center under the grates to catch the cooking juices, and then light the grill. Place the ribs over indirect heat and close the lid on the grill to trap in the smoke and heat, which also traps moisture. Just be sure not to place the ribs over direct fire or they can easily overcook and dry out.
Smoke BBQ Ribs
The best BBQ ribs are characterized by a distinct smoky flavor. Apple, walnut, and cherry are some of the best woods for smoking. The idea is to whet the wood before using it so that it starts to smoke when lit, rather than create flames. If you don't have a grill and are cooking your ribs in the oven, you can add liquid smoke to your sauce and spread it over the ribs in the last hour of cooking.
Finish with BBQ sauce
Barbecue sauce is an essential for this style of BBQ pork ribs. And homemade sauce makes all the difference. A combination of brown sugar, tomato, bourbon, and chipotle chili create unbeatable flavors and textures that caramelize beautifully over the ribs.
To apply the sauce, you want to add it in layers. The first layer should be added in the last 20 minutes of coking. Then, once the meat is cooked, you can add another layer and turn up the heat (or place over direct heat on the grill) to caramelize for 5 minutes. And when it comes time to serve, pour the remainder of the sauce into a bowl in case you need a little extra dipping sauce as you eat.
How to Know When the Ribs are Ready
Removing the ribs too early or, alternatively, too late can make a significant difference in the final result. Luckily, knowing when the ribs are ready is easy.
The pork will shrink off the bone at the ends as it cooks. If you see a clean part of the bone at the end, it means that the ribs are ready. You should also be able to easily separate them with your hands (no knife needed) into individual ribs. This is what we mean by fall-off-the-bone BBQ pork ribs.