Advice wanted for my first attempt at ribs

I don’t necessarily need recipes (not that they would be unwelcome), just some guidance.

I’ve been grilling over charcoal for quite a while now, and I’ve gotten pretty good at cooking basic stuff like burgers and chicken. My mom got me a Weber charcoal grill for my birthday, and to break it in, I’d like to take a shot at some pork, baby-back ribs.

Indirect heat sounds simple enough, but I’m afraid I might suffer from lack of experience on my first try. Are there any tricks of the trade you folks might let me in on? For starters, should I close the top vent in order to keep the heat from escaping? Can I buy a thermometer that will monitor the temperature inside the grill? How long and how hot should I cook the meat?

It may be a few days before I can check up on this thread because I’ll be without a computer this weekend. I’ll probably be back with more questions on Monday, so just keep the advice a-comin’.

BBQ Baby Backs… the easy way…

Get some non diet Gingerale (2 cups/lb of ribs) and add: few table spoons of grated garlic, big pinch/1/4 tsp of white pepper, smoke seasoning (if desired), some salt.

Marinate ribs in this mixture (in fridge) for min 4 hours, overnight is best.

Start / light your BBQ

Douse ribs in Fave BBQ sauce

Wrap and seal in foil

place on grill, low heat (leave lid a little open, for 20 minutes or so (steam heat will cook ribs inside of sealed foil “envelope”

Remove ribs from foil and place on BBQ rack, over high heat (close lid and vent(s).
(be careful removing ribs from foil, steam is frikin hot!)

Cook 5 minutes, flip and cook five minutes more (lid shut to avoid flame outs)
Deliscious, flavourfull, BBQ ribs… very tender and sweet


First, look it up on google. They have diagrams and all kinds of tips. But here are my two favorites:

First, make sure you either soak the pork over night in brine, or use mustard and dry rub seasoning overnight. I prefer the dry rub, but you know how people are about ribs; if you have some fancy sauce, you may not want anything else competing with that flavor. But the overnight soak or marinade is important if you want that fall off the bone thing (which you do).

Second, get a pie pan and fill the bottom with water, and then put wood chips in there. I like hickory, but you can use whatever. They sell these in the grilling section of a lot of grocery stores. Get the big bag with the big hunks of wood; those little flakes are more expensive in the end, and they are for weenies. You don’t want to make weenie ribs. Soak the wood in water for a little while, like half an hour, before you put it in the pan. You want it to smoke, not burn. Take your water and wood chips pie pan, and put it on the rack with your ribs. When you close up the kettle, it will be all smoky and steamy in there, which is what you want.

here, I found this:

I don’t do mine exactly like that (I like to be able to add more wood chips) but this is a good way to do it. Also, this all takes awhile, so have lots of beer on hand. It is important to drink lots of beer while you cook ribs.

Hope it all works for you!

ETA: I am from the Memphis tradition of barbecuing, and we do not mess around. If it doesn’t take all day, you are doing it wrong. Those are weenie ribs. Anything fast and easy is for chumps. :wink:

Here is a previous thread on ribs Pay particular attention to post #4 and post #6
If anyone suggests boiling them, ignore them.

Here’s how I do it:

Two days before, you boil some water and dump a cup of salt and and a cup of brown sugar. Stir and dissolve, then toss in some ice cubes to cool it down. You can also throw in apple cider vinegar or apple juice as well. Submerge the ribs in the brine at least 24 hours.

Take the ribs out, pat 'em dry. Find a open area to work, and put a generously sized piece of clingfilm on the countertop, then your ribs.

The rub is where the magic happens. Your call here, but a good rub probably has chili powder, paprika, black pepper, garlic powder, mustard powder, cumin, oregano, brown sugar, a dash of cayenne, and salt (but you can use something like Montreal steak seasoning for flavor). Wrap the clingfilm around the ribs tightly and put 'em back in the fridge for another 24 hours. (I’ve done it in a 12 hour interval as well and it’s pretty good then as well.)

Indirect heat as you mentioned. You’ll want to soak some mesquite chips in water and as they’re damp (not dripping), put 'em on top of the coals. You can use a drip pan right beneath the rack if you want. Every 30 minutes I check on the ribs… I can do a rack in as short as 3 hours.

Texas style all the way. Don’t touch the ribs with sauce, ever. Gringos can put sauce on after they’re done, which basically is the equivalent of putting ketchup on a hot dog in Chicago.

Heh, guess I’m a gringo. I use a rub and a home-made sauce. I braise my ribs in a flavorful liquid, unless I make a special trip to get wood chips. Then I’ll smoke them. After they’ve fully, falling-off-the-bone cooked, I’ll kick up the heat and glaze them. Combine the soft tenderness with a little char and caramelized sugars. Best of all worlds.

Baby back ribs on a Weber are my specialty. My technique – a dry rub, with a liquid sauce lightly applied in the last 30 min or so. Hickory wood chips added to the charcoal. Indirect, medium heat, closed lid the whole time.

The quality of my ribs was greatly improved when I started removing the membrane from the ribs. It’s fairly easy (just insert a thin knife between a rib and the membrane, and peel it off) and it makes them so much easier to chew.

DO NOT close the top vent on your Weber grill while cooking. With the vents wide open, there’s enough air flow to keep the charcoal going, but not enough to allow flare-ups.

When you are finished cooking, close upper and lower vents. The charcoal will be quickly snuffed out, and you can re-light what’s left next time.

Good luck on your ree-ubs. :slight_smile:

You will need to close them down part way to get the temp down to smoking range (about 200F). If you closed them all the way, the fire goes out.

Hey, my thread! :smiley: I was just coming in here to post that link. I’ve used Scylla’s recipe from that thread several times, always with fantastic results. Highly recommended.

Thanks for pointing me in the right directions, guys. I did come across that old thread, but I didn’t have enough mana for a rez cast…

The only thing that remains is I’m still uncertain as to how to monitor the temperature inside the grill. One site recommended that I just lay a probe thermometer on top of the meat. Any other suggestions?

You don’t need to be incredibly precise, in my experience. If you close your vents half-way, you’ll get medium heat, approximately. The manly way to check your temperature is to hold your hand a few inches above the grill. Two hot after 2 seconds: high. Four seconds: medium. Six seconds: low.

Right, I’m familiar with that method, but to what approximate temperatures do those labels correspond? Is medium closer to, say, 200 or 300? Plus, since it’s indirect heat, should I place my hand near where the ribs are cooking or above the coals?

Pardon if I’m being a little anal here, I’m just trying to gather as much info as I can so my first attempt can be as successful as my inexperience will allow.

Once you get your coals on the outside of your grill, and you get your ribs in the middle, I’d put the lid on and turn the top vents to about half-closed at MOST. If it seems like you’re cooking too fast, turn them back a little more.

You’re going to want to add coals to your “indirect piles” if you’re cooking for more than an hour – which you will be doing.

When I’m using indirect method with a charcoal grill, when I make my “stacks” (I actually have two things that contain my coals) I add cold coals right when I start cooking, and keep adding coals as I cook.

This shouldn’t have to be said, but don’t add lighter fluid to any coals in the grill while there is meat on the grill. I don’t use fluid at all, but instead have a weber chimney for lighting coals. I also have a grate that has sides that flip up, so I can add coals more easily.

Low: 250
Medium: 350
High: 500

Buh, buh, buh, buh, boiling? :eek:

I think your suggestion to “ignore them” is far too kind.

Yes it is, but we aren’t in the pit so that is the best I can do. :wink:

And how was your defense against Ninjas and Special Ops teams formulated? :smiley:

I do things a bit different, though I’m sure the ribperts will look upon my post with sadness.

I use full ribs. The cheapest, biggest pork ribs you can find. Cooking just baby-back or St. Louis style is a waste of perfectly good rib meat. Brine if you want, I don’t. I do use a kicker dry rub of my own creation. I coat, wrap in foil, then wrap in clingwrap, refrigerate for 24 hours, then use or freeze.

Unwrap the clingwrap, and put the foil encased ribs on a baking sheet, and slide into the oven at the lowest temp you can get above the ‘warm’ setting. 200F on my oven. Let them sit in there for 3-4 hours. Remove, and drain the liquid into a sauce pan with the BBQ Sauce destined for the mop described below. Reduce by half or more until it’s glossy and thick.

Fire up the BBQ (I only have gas, I know… the shame of it…) Low to Medium heat depending on grill. Put the ribs on the grill and mop them with my home-made BBQ sauce, both sides, messy is good. Cook each side for about 20 minutes. Continue to remop with sauce about 1/2 way between turns.

Let them rest, back in the foil for 10-15 minutes. Chop into servings and serve with a nice coleslaw, and a boatload of napkins/towels/available hoses.

I just did ribs last week, and they worked out really well. I did not brine them. I cut them into 4-rib portions for easier serving later and rubbed them with a mix of kosher salt, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder and thyme, wrapped them tightly in foil then put them in the fridge for about 6 hours.

Took them out of the fridge, prepared a quick braising liquid (1 part OJ to 2 parts BBQ sauce), coated with that, then put them into the oven at 250 for 2 hours. After 2 hours, they were falling-off-the bone tender (quite literally, one bone actually fell right out as I was performing the next step).

Final step was to coat them in bbq sauce and put them under the broiler to caramelize. I did both sides, which only took about 10 minutes total. The only thing I’d do differently is that I would not broil them in the same foil I braised in, as it smoked enough to set off the smoke alarm. Oops.

I thought about grilling them, but was concerned it would make a huge mess on my nice new grill.

Oh, one other thing I would do differently next time: buy more ribs. :slight_smile:

Yep and I’m sure you know but he means before cooking. It can be pretty slick but gripping it with a paper towel works well. Just start on a corner, pull slow and it should all come off in one piece.