Tender Ribs and Pork Chops


Ever since the home barbecue revolution of the 1950s, spareribs have had special status. The crispy finish and wake-up flavor they get are hard to beat. In this article, you’ll find how to choose a rib cut, rib grilling tips, and a recipe for a spicy pork rub.

Pick a Rib
Spareribs are the outer ends of pork ribs, which are sparely covered with meat. A rack of ribs weighs about 3 pounds. If spareribs are to be the main part of a meal, figure on about 3/4 to 1 pound per person.

Back ribs are short sections of ribs, cut somewhat closer to the backbone than spareribs. They’re sometimes sold as “baby back ribs.”

Country-style ribs are thick and meaty and are cut from the shoulder end of the rib. They are more like pork chops than spareribs. Expect about 3 country-style ribs per pound.

Prep for Grilling
Ribs can be separated and grilled individually, but basting and turning a rack of ribs is easier than working with portion cuts.

Wipe the ribs with paper toweling and trim off any surface fat. For extra tenderness, pull off the parchment-like filament on the inside of the rack. The ribs can then be rubbed with dry spices or marinated.

Spicy Pork Rub
Mix up a big batch of a dry spice rub, then spoon out just the amount you need when you need it.

Blend together 1/4 cup each of Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, sweet paprika, and sugar. Store the mixture in a covered jar. Just before using, mix in 1 tablespoon of grated lemon zest for every 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture.
Brush and Cut
Wait until the ribs are cooked about halfway through before brushing on the sauce. It should be thick enough so it doesn’t drip. Use it generously. When the ribs are done, use a sharp heavy knife to cut the rack into 3-rib serving portions.

Rib Basics

  • To cut down on grilling time, we poached (parboiled) our ribs ahead of time. Parboiling is frequently called for in recipes for ribs, but if you don’t wish to include this step, leave plenty of time for slow cooking over a medium to low fire.
  • Slow cooking is the secret to tender ribs. Without parboiling, figure on about 1 hour 10 minutes total grilling time for spareribs, ad up to 1 1/2 hours for country ribs.
  • You don’t have to baste but if you want to, brush the ribs with a mixture of 1/2 cup of chicken stock, the juice of 1 lemon lime, and 1 teaspoon of hot red pepper sauce.
  • If you want to coat the ribs with a tomato-based barbecue sauce while they cook, wait until at least halfway through the cooking; otherwise, the sauce will blacken and burn.

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