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Barbecue Ribs the Right Way

Pork ribs need long, slow, indirect grilling to create a rich barbeque flavor. The following is a summary list of important points to consider before heading out to barbecue pork ribs.

1. Build an indirect fire by piling the coals on one side of the grill. (This method gives you plenty of room to place the large rib slabs away from the heat of the fire.) You also can stack the charcoal in a circular ring around the edges of the grill. You can cook the ribs indirectly in a gas grill, but a charcoal fire gives them more flavor.

2. Cook the ribs slowly for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, over medium heat (325° to 350°) and over a drip pan half filled with water. Long, slow cooking makes for moist and tender ribs with a crisp crust. If in the first 30 minutes the ribs are browning too quickly, shut the grill vents.

3. Determining when pork ribs are done is a little tricky, but after 1-1/2 to 2 hours, you can be virtually certain that the ribs are fully cooked. However, the meat's color is not an indication of doneness. Smoke from the coals or from burning wood chips can turn the interior of the meat pink and leave you with the impression that it's not cooked. If you can move the rib bones back and forth without a lot of resistance after 1-1/2 to 2 hours, the meat is cooked.

4. Add any basting sauce that has a component of tomato or other sweet ingredient to the ribs during the last 20 minutes of cooking. Adding the sauce late in the process keeps the sauce from burning.

5. You can toss in a large handful of presoaked wood chips each time you add fresh coals to the fire. Or build the fire by using a combination of charcoal and hardwood oak or hickory chunks to achieve extra smoky flavor.

With these tips in mind, here's a great ribs recipe.

Baby Back Ribs with Sweet-Hickory Barbecue Sauce

In this recipe, baby back ribs are protected from the intense heat of the grill by wrapping them in aluminum foil until nearly cooked. In the final 30 minutes, the ribs are then grilled over indirect heat where they develop a nice brown crust without any charring or overbrowning. This rib barbecue sauce is savory-sweet with a hint of liquid hickory smoke seasoning, which you should be able to find at most grocery stores. It will soon become one of your family's favorite sauces with any kind of poultry, beef ribs, steaks, or even burgers.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Grilling time: 1-1/2 hours

Yield: 3 to 4 main dish servings or 6 to 8 appetizer servings

Ingredients:

    2 full racks baby back pork ribs (about 3-1/2 pounds)

    4 tablespoons water

    2 teaspoons liquid hickory smoke seasoning

    1-1/2 cups Sweet-Hickory Barbecue Sauce (see following recipe)

1. In a covered grill, prepare a medium charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium.

2. Cut each rack of ribs in half to make 4 equal-sized pieces, with about 6 to 7 ribs to a piece. Lay 2 pieces of the ribs side-by-side on a long sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Wrap tightly, using a drugstore wrap, but leave one end of the foil packet open. (Figure 1 illustrates how to use a drugstore wrap.) Repeat with the 2 remaining rib pieces and a second long sheet of foil.

figure

Figure 1: Doing the drugstore wrap.

3. Combine the water and liquid smoke seasoning; spoon half of the liquid smoke-water mixture into each foil packet; seal the ends tightly to prevent leakage.

4. Place both packets flat on the preheated grill grid; cover and cook for a total of 60 minutes, turning the packets over about every 20 minutes. Remove the packets from the grill to a large baking pan and let rest.

5. If you're using a gas grill, raise the heat on one burner to create a medium-hot indirect fire. If using a charcoal grill, add more coals to the fire to raise the temperature of the fire to medium-hot, and then bank them to one side.

6. Remove the foil wrapping; place the ribs on a lightly oiled grid, opposite the fire or heat. Cover the grill and cook for about 30 minutes or until the ribs are done, turning and basting both sides with the Sweet-Hickory Barbecue Sauce about every 10 minutes. Heat the remaining sauce just to boiling in a small saucepan and serve with the ribs.

Sweet-Hickory Barbecue Sauce

Preparation time: About 15 minutes

Yield: About 2 cups

Ingredients:

    1/3 cup soy sauce

    1/2 cup water

    4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

    6 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

    1/4 cup chili sauce

    1/4 cup ketchup

    1/4 cup corn syrup

    1/4 cup honey

    1 teaspoon liquid hickory smoke seasoning

In a small bowl, whisk together all the sauce ingredients; cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight to meld flavors. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week.

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