When it comes to who makes the best BBQ Ribs, people will fight to the death over their favorite recipe. Spare Ribs vs. Baby Back, Dry Rub vs. Sauced, Carolina vs. Missouri vs. Tennessee vs. Texas, and the list goes on. Can't we all just get along?
I learned a long time ago that arguing whose regional cuisine is the best is like arguing about sports, religion, or politics. Nobody wins. Why not take something you like from each region and cooking method, and incorporate them into your own recipes? So, this rib recipe takes my favorite parts of different regions and combines them for a delicious, fall-off-the-bone rib that will satisfy even the staunchest of traditionalists.
I'll admit that I used to be a BBQ traditionalist myself. All BBQ needed to be cooked on wood and/or charcoal, at low temperatures and should take all day and night with a full cooler of ice-cold beer. Now that I have a beautiful baby daughter, that option is out the window - all I want to do is sleep!
This method is for the people who don't have the flexibility of spending the whole day in a blissful, half-buzzed silence with no distractions besides the crackling of the fire and the concern of the next beer run. Yes, this recipe has the option of starting your ribs in the oven and finishing on the grill or grilling the whole way through. And yes, I am now a believer in Traeger grill/smoker combos to make my life easier.
Servings: 4-6 depending on who you've invited over
Special Equipment: Sheet pan, spray bottle
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 3 Hours
Total Time: 3.5 Hours
2 racks of baby back ribs
Zonk Foods BBQ Dry Rub
¼ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
One Bottle of your favorite BBQ Sauce
Ribs in the Oven
Begin by removing the papery membrane on the back of the ribs using a paper towel or kitchen towel to grip and pull it away in one piece. Rub the rack of ribs generously on all sides with about 1 cup of the spice rub mixture. (Set aside 3 tablespoons of spice rub if making dry-style ribs.)
Sprinkle ribs all over with 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, then rub in with hands for even coverage. If ribs don't smell smoky enough, sparingly rub in more liquid smoke.
Wrap each rib rack in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8.
Preheat oven to 250°F (120°C) and adjust rack to middle position. Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Remove and discard plastic from the rib racks, then wrap each rib rack in foil, sealing it tightly, and set it on a prepared baking sheet.
Bake ribs for 2 hours. Remove and discard foil.
Return ribs to the oven, meaty side up, and continue to cook until a toothpick or skewer can be pushed into the meat with minimal resistance, about 1 1/2 hours longer. (Cooking times can vary quite a bit depending on the exact size of rib racks and the oven being used.)
To Finish: Increase oven temperature to 500°F (260°C). Meanwhile, rub racks with 3 tablespoons spice rub (if making them dry-style) or brush with sauce (if using).
Return to oven and cook, meaty side up, until well browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Divide ribs between bones, if desired; serve, passing additional sauce at the table, if using.
Oven to Grill
Preheat the oven to 250°F with the rack set in the middle position.
On the bottom of every rack of ribs is a thin, plastic-like membrane that once cooked becomes tough and hard to bite through ruining the fall off the bone texture we're looking for. To remove, use a butter knife or small paring knife to scrape the membrane off one end, and using your fingers, or a paper towel, begin peeling the membrane off. You may not be able to get it all off in a big piece, which is the goal, but continue scraping it off using a knife until it is all removed. If you want to make your life easier, your butcher can do this part for you.
Coat the ribs evenly on both sides with BBQ Dry Rub Seasoning. Allow the ribs to sit for about 15 minutes to absorb the rub.
Line a baking sheet with a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, and place the spice-coated ribs on the foil, cover the ribs by creating a loose tent with the foil, and fold the two ends up to ensure the juices do not escape the foil tent you've created.
Bake until tender, about 2-2.5 hours. Don't worry about an extra 30 minutes in the oven overcooking or drying out the ribs. The longer they cook at low temperatures, the more the proteins and connective tissues will break down, making the rib meat more tender.
About 20 minutes before you take the ribs out of the oven, preheat the grill to medium.
Remove the ribs from the oven and uncover them. Put the apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle, spray the ribs generously, and coat the top of the ribs with more Zonk Foods BBQ Dry Rub Seasoning.
Place both racks directly on the grill, bone side down, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
Optional: Brush ribs occasionally with the BBQ sauce until charred in spots and heated through. Adjust heat as necessary to prevent burning.) Let the ribs cool for about 10 minutes, then slice and serve.
If you don't have a grill or don't feel like using the grill, you can simply remove the ribs from the oven, remove the top layer of foil, spray with apple cider vinegar, season with Zonk Foods BBQ Dry Rub, and place ribs back into the oven set to broil. You can also apply your favorite BBQ sauce at this point if you would like saucy ribs.
Watch carefully as the sugar in the dry rub can turn from caramelized to burnt quickly.