Monthly Archives: September 2011

Barbecued Ribs

Barbecued Ribs


For a lot of people real barbecue means barbecued ribs. But the Holy Grail of tender, falling-off-the-bone ribs eluded me time after time… sure, they tasted great, but the meat didn’t fall off the bone the way I expect of a good rib. I cooked my ribs “low and slow”– several hours on low heat. What was I was doing wrong?  I did a little research online, and discovered the “3-2-1″ method (more about that below). Eureka! Tender, fallin’ off the bone ribs.


  • 1 Rack Spare Ribs
  • Wood chunks for smoking- apple and hickory work well.

Dry Rub Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 Tsp. Thyme
  • 1/2 Tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/4 Tsp. ground celery seed
  • 1.4 Tsp. cayenne pepper

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • 1 Tsp. black pepper
  • 1-2 Tsp. Tabasco sauce
  • 1 Tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tsp. Worchestershire sauce

Special Utensils:

  • Smoker or charcoal grill

Serves 2-4 (depending on appetite). If I was making ribs for 4 people, I’d make 2 racks of ribs.

Mix up dry rub ingredients and rub thoroughly into the ribs. Refrigerate and let the spices work their way into the meat for several hours, overnight ideally.

Fire up the smoker and soak the wood chunks in water . There’s more info and pictures on that in my Smoked Turkey post. If you don’t have a smoker, you can use a charcoal grill– just put the coals on one side of the grill, put a pan on the other side to catch the drippings, and cook the ribs over the pan for slower, indirect heat.  Close down the vents to lower the heat– the temp should be around 250 degrees for “low and slow” barbequing. Add coals every couple hours. Add new soaked wood chunks every hour or two, enough to keep the ribs constantly smoking.

So here’s the “3-2-1″ method: we cook the ribs over low heat for 6 hours. The first three hours, we cook the ribs uncovered so they soak up the smoke flavor. Then we seal the rack of ribs up in foil and cook for two hours. This causes the meat to steam in its own juices and tenderizes it. This is the secret to getting the meat to fall off the bone. Take the foil off and cook uncovered for the last hour to get the outside crispy.

Sometime during that 6 hours of cooking time, get the sauce ready– cook up the onions and garlic in olive oil until they’re just starting to carmelise and turn golden brown (but don’t burn). Add the tomato paste and mix in the rest of the ingredients. Stir on low heat, simmering the sauce for 1/2 hour to an hour, letting all the flavors mix. If the sauce is too thick add a little water, or pour a little of the beer you’re drinking in there.

Brush on the sauce around a half hour or so before the ribs are done. Take the ribs off the grill carefully, so they don’t fall apart too soon, and serve. Enjoy!