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Step by Step Tutorial BBQ Ribs


BBQ Ribs with Smoky BBQ Sauce

BBQ Ribs with  BBQ Sauce


I like to use baby back ribs, sometimes called loin ribs, for barbecuing. Regular spareribs don’t seem to have enough meat. I’ve not used country style or St. Louis ribs for this recipe, but they may be worth a try.

The following photo and great information is from Three Little Pigs site.



Baby Back Ribs:   The most popular of all pork ribs, Baby Backs are the most lean and tender.  These types of ribs are located at the top part of the rib bone that is connected to the spine (backbone), just below the loin muscle.  The name “Baby” is derived from the fact they are shorter than spare ribs, and “Back”, because they are nearest the backbone.
Butchers make Baby Back Ribs by cutting them where the longest bone is, around 6″ from the spine.  The meat on top of the bones is tender and delicious.  Depending on how they are butchered, Baby Back Rib racks weigh about 1.75-2.5 lbs and will normally have between 10-13 bones per rack.  Baby Backs can be grilled, barbecued, roasted and smoked. They are typical to the northern region of the U.S. and Canada.
Spare Ribs: Rib starts from the end of Baby Back Ribs and extends to the end of the rib bone.  Spare Ribs are bigger with more meat between the bones than the top of the bones
and are a little tougher and fatter, but much richer in flavor.  Spare Ribs average 10-13 bones per rack weighing between 2.5 – 3.5 lbs. They can also be grilled, barbecued, roasted and smoked.
St. Louis Ribs in the St. Louis area who wanted a better rib cut than they were receiving from big meat packers at the time.  St. Louis Ribs, or St. Louis Style Ribs are Spare Ribs with the rib tips cut off where a lot of cartilage and gristle exists with very little meat.  “Pork Ribs, St. Louis Style” officially became an official USDA cut standard NAMP/IMPS #416A in the 1980’s. Spare Ribs and St. Louis Style Spare Ribs are found on grills and smokers in the southern states of the U.S.
Rib Tips   Rib Tips are found at the end tips of the rib bone. They are the by-products of St. Louis Ribs where butchers cut the tips off the end of the ribs into strips with a saw. Even with little meat and a lot of cartilage and gristle, Tips are rich in flavor due to the presence of bone and higher fat content.  People generally either love them or hate them.
Country-Style Ribs   You may be surprised to know that Country-style Ribs are not cut from the rib cage but from the front end of where the Baby Back Ribs are near the shoulder blade.  They are the meatiest variety of ribs and are perfect for those who prefer to use a knife and fork rather than eating with their hands.

Now let’s talk about my rub and the way I cook my ribs:


Rub: You may have leftover rub so store in refrigerator up to a month.

Mix together:

6 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chili powder – I like Buena Vida

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cumin

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons allspice



3-5 pounds or so meaty baby back/ pork loin ribs, cut into 6-7 rib slabs



This is a great do-ahead sauce. After cooking, adjust seasonings.  

4 cups catsup

1/2 cup cider vinegar or to taste

1/3 to 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup prepared mustard

2 tablespoons Tobasco

2 tablespoons barbeque rub (see above)

2 teaspoons liquid smoke plus a bit more if needed

Chipotle pepper powder to taste or 1 tablespoon or to taste chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce. I puree the peppers for easy measuring.Combine everything in saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until dark and thick, about 20 minutes.  Store in refrigerator. Keeps up to  a month.


Removing silverskin

Also called the membrane, this skin covers the bone side of each rack. If left on, it keeps seasoning from penetrating and silverskin cooks up with a leathery texture. Some ribs are sold with skin removed. If you have to remove it here’s how:

Slide a knife under the silverskin toward the beginning of the rack, or really just about anywhere. It if resists in one spot, try another.

Lift and loosen it with the knife until you can grab it with a paper towel.

Pull it off ribs. Sometimes it comes off in one log sheet; other times you have to start over with the knife.

Removing silverskin

Seasoning and precooking ribs:

This may be different from what you’re used to, but trust me, this method works perfectly. I like baby back/loin ribs, which cook up tender.

Season ribs with rub on both sides. Be generous and pat rub in.

Seasoning raw ribs

Place on hot grill and “mark” them for a few minutes on each side. Marking means allowing the ribs to grill just until you see grill marks, that’s all.

Bonus: this can be done ahead!

Preheat oven to 300.

Arrange ribs in single layers in baking pan and pour some chicken broth or beer around ribs, a generous cup or so. This makes for a flavorful steam. Cover tightly with foil and cook until fork tender, anywhere from 2 to 2-1/2 hours. You don’t want them falling apart.

Another bonus: this can be done ahead of time too!

Ribs after roasting

When ready to serve, heat grill to medium high. Place ribs on grill and start brushing with sauce. I do this several times on both sides. They’re ready when they are hot throughout and sauce is charred a bit.

Serve with additional warm sauce on the side.

Yum! (Note – this photo is of leftover ribs which I reheated in 350 degree oven, covered with foil).


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