Ribs are a passion of mine and they’re really not that complicated to make. Here are some common pitfalls folks face when making ribs.
Ribs are too dry or burn too easily….
Ribs should be made using indirect heat which means the source of the heat (coals or gas) should be on one side of the grill while the ribs are on the other side of the grill. There should be a small pan of water underneath the ribs while they’re cooking (I also throw in some hickory chips). You should spray the ribs with something acidic (I use apple juice) every 20 minutes.
The other issue is using too much charcoal in the beginning or putting the ribs on while the coals are still on fire. On a 22 inch Weber, I start off with about 60 coals (invest in a charcoal chimney) for one rack. If you notice the heat going down you can simply slip a few coals later on to maintain it. Do not put the ribs on until most of the coals have some gray on them and the fire has died down.
On a gas grill use medium heat, leaving the burner immediately after the ribs turned off. On my gas grill, the burner underneath the ribs is off, the one after it is off and right burner stays on.
If you’re cooking two racks at once on one grill (coal or gas) make sure to swap the location of the racks every two minutes or the one closest to the heat source will cook too fast and you run the risk of burning the meat or having it come out too dry.
Do NOT put BBQ sauce on your ribs until the last 15 minutes of cooking. BBQ sauce has sugar and your ribs will taste like burnt pork candy.
Lastly, do NOT sear your ribs in the oven. In my experience, this can leave your ribs coming out too dry. If you absolutely need to sear your ribs (I have no idea why you would want to do this) place the meatier part of the ribs directly onto the grill (still not over the heat source) for like 5 minutes. I don’t do that shit – it’s stupid.
Ribs are too chewy….
See above. Also, take the membrane off the ribs. The membrane is a very thin white film you will find on the boney side of the ribs. I usually take them off with my fingers pretty easily. If it’s too hard to take it off that way I use a spoon to dig in there and pull it out. If you really don’t want to go through the trouble of doing this, get your ribs from a butcher and they’ll take it off for you.
Ribs are flavorless….
You should use a dry rub on your ribs the night before, wrap them in foil and keep them in the fridge. Here’s a good basic rub that you can build on. I usually add red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper to this recipe (1 tablespoon each) because I like the kick. Do not “rub” the rub in, pat it on.
I don’t make my own sauce because there are a lot of great options out there – my favorite is Sweet Baby Rays.
On a completely unrelated note – I love red wine too much to give it up for a more appropriate pairing for ribs. However, if unlike me you are a normal person – a Vinho Verde is an excellent choice. My favorite? Casal Garcia.
Hopefully, this was helpful to you – if you have any questions or comments feel free to post them here or on our Facebook page!