Pork spare ribs cooked low and slow on the grill -whether propane or charcoal– are one of the great joys of summer. I’m currently in Erhard, MN visiting family; and for yesterday’s special occasion I made three kinds of ribs: my rib rub, McCormick’s Sweet & Smoky Rub, and for the youngest in the crowd Kraft Honey BBQ. I’m not in my own kitchen; and I’m not exactly at a place where running to the store is convenient. (Yes, Fergus Falls isn’t that far away, but I’m in a cabin and technically this is my vacation, so cut me some slack. Just be glad I’m cooking, and not making the minions forage for gooseberries and fish for their own dinner from the lake.). I really did like the Sweet & Smoky Rub; and recommend it for those not willing to make their own. I read the ingredients, and other than their inclusion of cinnamon and pepper, it really isn’t that far off from mine.
McCormick asked that the ribs be Tyson spare ribs; but the person sent to the store returned with back ribs and I honestly do my best to be a gracious guest. Read this post if you want to learn about different types of ribs. The cooking style for back ribs, baby back, ribs, and spare ribs is more or less the same.
Yesterday, while teasing on Twitter about this upcoming post, a friend had a specific question about cooking these ribs:
“@HeatherSolos Did you remove the membrane from that right rack? I’ve finally have a nice rub I like, but I’ll add cumin next time I make it.”
— Gregory Pittman (@gpittman) July 16, 2012
The short answer is no. I do not remove the membrane when I cook ribs, as I cook them over a long period of time with a low and slow heat. When you cook in this manner, the proteins in the connective tissue (mostly collogen) dissolve rather than changing structure and becoming tough. Fast, high-heat cooking is one of the biggest reasons why some ribs come out tough and chewy. Repeat after me: “Low and slow is the way to go.” Do you need to boil ribs before cooking? My reccomendation is no, and feel free to read the whole post for the full explanation.
Before I get to the whole, “how to grill ribs” thing; I’ll share my latest version of the dry rub I’m making. (I have another version I use, it’s this sort of Memphis style dry rub recipe for ribs, but I’ve been tweaking it a bit and I’m not so sure we’re in Memphis any more, Toto.)
Dry Rub for Pork Spare Ribs
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup Paprika (for a twist on the flavor try roasted or toasting the paprika)
- 1/4 cup McCormick Chili Powder
- 1/4 cup McCormick Chopped Onions
- 2 TBSP Whole Coriander
- 2 TBSP McCormick Ground Cumin
- 1 TBSP McCormick Garlic Powder
Now take all of those ingredients, put them in a food processor or blender, and give it a whir. I personally don’t care if some of the coriander seeds remain whole (look in the picture up there), but that’s definitely up to you.
Liberally cover your ribs, pork loin, or chicken with this rub before cooking as usual.
Store whatever is not cross-contaminated in an airtight container until the next time you crave spare ribs.
How to cook spare ribs on a gas grill:
BBQ enthusiasts will argue until the meat has dried out, died, and become inedible about the proper way to grill ribs.
NEVER cook your ribs over direct heat. (Do you remember the difference between direct and indirect grilling). Always have a thermometer for your grill, the goal is to try to treat the grill like an oven and keep the heat somewhere around 225°F -stay on the positive side of this, we want the meat out of the bacterial danger zone in a reasonable amount of time. Try not to open the grill often. This makes the temperature fluctuate drastically, and increases the cooking time.
I always cook my ribs bone side up first, others insist on bone side down. My theory is that the melting fat works its way through the meat, acting as a marinade, while carrying the flavor of the rub and sauce with it. Remember, fat carries flavor. With the Kraft Honey BBQ sauce, I did not slather the meat side of the ribs until after they were nearly done. All told, the back ribs only took about two hours on the grill; but there were two factors that played into this shorter cook time. The gas grill was running a little hotter than 225°F, and I allowed the ribs to come almost up to room temperature before starting. Add another thirty minutes if your ribs are straight from the refrigerator; and longer if they aren’t fully thawed. I turned and shuffled (rearranged so the ribs closest to the heat source were moved to the coolest spot) one time. If it had been spare ribs, it would have taken about another hour due to the size of the slabs
Do You Have a Rib Recipe?
You can enter the Dibs on My Ribs! Pork Recipe Cookoff Check out here for the full official guidelines, but here’s the quick and dirty:
- All recipes must incorporate a minimum of three ingredients, including at leats one 5–rib portion of pork spareribs
- At least one McCormick spice or seasoning product and at least one Kraft Foods BBQ Sauce (unless you are submitting a rub-based recepie, in which case you are not required to use a sauce)
- Your recipe must be categorized as indoor or outdoor cooking
- You must have a name for your recipe. Your name may not include any person’s or brand name (ie my above recipe couldn’t be Heather’s Magnificently Awesome-tastic Rib Rub, nor Home-Ec 101 Rib Rub) You can use the co-sponsor’s brand names in the recipe. McCormick’s Awesome Rib Rub would work just fine
- The recipe cannot be previously published, awaiting publication, or submitted for publication.
- Your pork spare ribs must be served as spareribs, they cannot be chopped, shredded, or served in any way unrecognizable as pork spareribs.
- You cannot be a professional chef or enrolled in culinary school to become a chef.
- You must be a resident of the United States (Other exclusions apply, read the full rules).
What prizes are involved?
How about a year supply of groceries; and the opportunity to attend the Memphis in May BBQ Event in Memphis, TN in May of 2013? (How cool would that be?)
The contest ends August 12, 2012 at 11:59pm EDT. Whee! Good luck!
This post was sponsored as part of the #DibsonmyRibs campaign. All opinions are my own, especially the persnickety ones on the specific ways to cook ribs, your mileage may vary. No children were harmed in the production of this post, although patience may have become frayed on all parts, as swimming was significantly delayed.