For mouth-watering, fall-off-the-bone ribs, low and slow are the watch words. Otherwise, ribs will be tough and chewy -- not at all appetizing! Whether they are country-style, spare ribs, baby back or St. Louis cut, ribs by definition have a lot of connective tissue holding the meat to the bone, and the only way to make that tender is through a long, slow cooking process.
- Season ribs before cooking with a rub. There are plenty of premade rubs on the market now, or make your own by blending kosher salt, sugar and the herbs and spices of your choosing. See HowToDoThings here for more details on making rubs. Coat the rubs with oil or mustard before rubbing and let the rub soak in overnight, in the refrigerator.
- Unless you want to spend all day watching a barbecue grill, cook ribs in the oven or crockpot before actually barbecuing them. A home smoker is another great alternative; read and follow the manufacturer's directions carefully for best results.
- To cook ribs in the oven, arrange in a large, deep pan and cover with foil. A single layer works best but isn't necessary. Cook ribs at 250 degrees for eight hours.
- To cook ribs in a crockpot or other slow cooker, set on low and pile in the ribs, cut to fit entirely within the cooker. Cook on low for eight to 10 hours.
- After cooking, grill ribs briefly over medium hot coals or gas flame. The goal is to just caramelize the outside and crisp the edges of the meat. A few minutes before the ribs are done, baste with your favorite barbecue sauce. The more sugary the sauce, the more likely it is to burn, so watch carefully.
To cook ribs entirely on the grill, let coals get to a low heat and cook rub-seasoned ribs over low heat until fall-off-the-bone tender, which will take all day. If desired, baste ribs with a mop (a thin mixture of cider vinegar and/or beer, BBQ spice blend and water) to keep them moist. For a basic mop recipe, check HowToDoThings here. A mop should only be used before basting with sauce. Mops and sauces can be used together, but make sure the flavors complement each other. Finish with sauce as above over medium heat.
Let ribs stand for a few minutes, covered with foil, before serving. Enjoy with more BBQ sauce on the side plus cole slaw, baked beans and potato salad!