If you like pork ribs but think you can’t make them at home, try this recipe. It has step-by-step instructions for grilling ribs to brown them and then finishing them in the oven. It is actually simple to make fall-off-the-bone tender ribs that rival restaurant-cooked ribs!
Choosing the Ribs
There are different types of ribs, including baby back, spare ribs, country ribs, and St. Louis-style spare ribs. For this recipe, use baby back ribs and extra meaty ones if you can find them! Baby back ribs are smaller than other ribs, hence the name “baby” back.
Preparing the Ribs
For this recipe, all you need to do is salt and pepper the ribs very generously! As you can see by the pepper in the photo below, the ribs have quite a bit of salt and pepper. Be sure to salt and pepper on both sides of the ribs.
If the ribs are too large to grill easily, you may want to cut each rack in half to shorten them. Cut them in the center of the rib rack beside a bone. If you have a large grill and the ribs will fit easily, you can skip this step.
Grilling the Ribs
Grilling the ribs will brown the outside and cook away some of the fat in them. Some people cook ribs on the grill the entire time, which takes a while. That method is favored by people who cook lots of racks of ribs at one time or others who just enjoy grilling their foods. However, this recipe uses the grill only to brown the ribs and get a good sear on the outside. They are then slow-baked in the oven where the temperature is easier to control at a lower setting. I think it is the best of both worlds because you get the outside browning from the grill and then a slow cooked tenderization in the oven.
Wrapping and Baking the Ribs
As soon as the ribs finish cooking on the grill, wrap them in aluminum foil. Be careful not to tear the aluminum foil so that bbq sauce will not leak out later. A heavy-duty foil works best. Place the aluminum-foil wrapped rib racks on a large baking pan with sides. The sides will prevent any leaks from spilling into the oven. Cook the ribs for two hours in a 275 degree preheated oven.
Adding BBQ Sauce
After the ribs cook in the oven, remove them and add BBQ sauce. They are best with a sticky-sweet sauce since thicker sauces stick to the meat better. Open the aluminum foil packs for both rib racks and divide the sauce between them. Make sure you use room temperature or warmed sauce instead of cold. A chilled sauce will cool the ribs and can affect the cooking time.
Cooking the sauce on the ribs only during the final hour will ensure that it doesn’t burn due to its high sugar content. That is why the sauce is not added during the grilling phase and not too early in the oven-cooking phase.
How to Tell When the Ribs are Done
The ribs are done when the meat easily flakes with a fork. They will be tender, and much of the fat will be cooked out or easy to separate from the lean meat. As you can see from the photo below, these fully-cooked ribs still have browning from the grill, but they were made tender by slow cooking in the oven. Don’t be confused by ribs being done with being tender. Theoretically, these ribs can be eaten when they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F, which means they are cooked when they finish on the grill. However, ribs need to cook longer at a low temperature to tenderize the meat. And this recipe makes very tender ribs!
If you cook only one rack of ribs instead of the two listed in the recipe, you may have to shorten the oven cooking time by a few minutes. When cooking one rib rack, check it after 1 1/2 hours of oven cooking time to see if it is tender and easily flakes with a fork.
The ultimate test to see if the ribs are tender is to take a bite. If they are not to your liking, place them back in the oven and cook them a little longer.
It is best to cut ribs between the bones for serving rather than trying to pull them apart. They don’t pull apart neatly, and pulling can sometimes tear all the meat off the bones. A serving is usually 4 to 5 ribs. A starchy side like corn on the cob is a good side dish with ribs. Other delicious sides include sweet potato fries, coleslaw, cornbread, and hushpuppies. Enjoy!