This dry rub baths pork ribs in smoky goodness long before they hit the grill or the oven. Be sure to use Kosher salt for the perfect flavor balance.
It’s grilling season, right? At least in most places in North America, it’s grilling season. My husband is usually the grill master, but once in a while I hitch up my britches and wrangle The Beast. We keep it leashed outside on the patio— otherwise known as “the cement next to the house”. Not to be confused with the large cement rectangle located farther from the house that some people would call a “sports court”, but which we often call “the big cement pad out back”. In all honesty, I think that The Beast ought to be out there rather so close to the house; gas grills make me nervous.
Soooooo, what if you don’t have a grill? Or what if it is actually the middle of winter where you live and you want some barbecue and your grill is under a foot or more of snow? Or what if it’s 100 degrees outside, the sun is beating down on you, there’s no breeze at all, and the idea of firing up the grill seems ridiculously inhumane? Or what if you don’t trust your grill skills?
Silly you. Cook the ribs in the oven. Relax, put your feet up, take a nap, or watch Jeremy Wade’s River Monsters.
Periodically, winter or summer, we get hungry for barbecued ribs at my house. Sometimes it works out that we can cook them outside on the grill and sometimes we cook them inside in the oven. It all depends on planetary alignment and phases of the moon and other stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with cosmic phenomena.
Personally, I find cooking outside in 100 degree heat, with nothing for shade, quite unappealing (my all time most favorite shade tree died and we don’t have an awning). I just can’t bring myself to do it. On the other hand, I will cheerfully pop some ribs in the oven, especially with some great smoky seasonings on them.
Father’s Day warranted me wrangling ribs on the grill. I totally rocked it, by the way. Nyuck, nyuck, nyuuuuck. I even put together a wonderful smoky rub, which has turned out to be a definite keeper.
Many years ago a man who was standing near me at the meat counter took it upon himself to give me some very helpful instructions about cooking ribs on the barbecue. He said to start them in the oven, cook them on low heat until “they are about 80% done”, and then finish them off on the grill. He said that the same thing goes for chicken. My husband and I have dutifully followed his advice through the years, although I have to admit that the “80% done” instructions were a bit ambiguous. Of course, if you are not going to be using the grill, then cook the meat “all the way” in the oven. 😉
For best flavor, I highly recommend that the ribs spend the night in the fridge bathed in this rub. When ready to cook, sprinkle the ribs with more of the rub. “Low and slow” is a phrase that is often used with smoking or grilling, and I have found that it is very sound advice for successful oven preparation of pork ribs. The meat turns out succulent and tender. ***Again, please note: You will probably NOT be using all of the rub. Save the rest in a sealed jar for the next time you make some ribs.***
Update 10/30/2013: A pinner stated that this rub is too salty and that she would cut the salt content by half, at least. I have not had a problem with the salt content, nor have members of my family. However, tastes vary. The amount of salt included in the rub mix is relatively standard. The recipe makes more rub than you will need for a rack of ribs. So, don’t use the whole thing on one rack, okay? Use your good judgement.
Update 1/26/15: As per the “too salty” issue, a reader, Petra, left an excellent point about the type of salt used. This recipe states to use “Kosher salt“. Kosher salt has a different structure than does standard table salt. Table salt has smaller crystals and is more dense. It has a saltier flavor than does an equal amount of kosher salt. Here is what Petra had to say: “About the salt: If one is NOT using kosher salt, then the amount of regular salt should be cut in half. Regular salt is finer than kosher and, therefore, it will more densely fill the measuring cup. For 1/3 cup kosher you would only use 8 teaspoons of regular salt or 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons.
Sprinkle the rub generously all over the ribs on both sides. Press the rub into the meat. It doesn’t require much pressure; just a simple “pat”.
Wrap the ribs in plastic wrap or store in a large plastic bags. I use long bread bags that I purchase at a local store. They are great for storing more than just homemade bread, although they are a perfect size for homemade bread such as French Bread or 100% Whole Wheat Bread. Store the ribs in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. If you are in a hurry, I suppose that you could get by with only letting the ribs sit for an hour, but I really must tell you that they are infinitely better when allowed to hang out with the rub for the recommended amount of time.
The next day, take the ribs out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking time so that the meat can come to room temperature. Leave the ribs wrapped during this time. When ready to cook, put the ribs on a foiled lined shallow baking pan. Sprinkle generously with more rub on both sides of the ribs. No need to rub or press.
After baking and a quick visit to the grill (or a few sizzling moments under the broiler) the ribs will be all tantalizingly beautiful. Let them them rest for 5-10 minutes so that the juices can redistribute. Slice into individual ribs for serving. Ring the dinner bell and get out of the way.