There’s More than One Way to Cook Baby Back Ribs to Perfection
When cooked properly, baby back ribs are the most succulent rib that you’ll ever consume. They are meatier, leaner and more expensive than the traditional cut of spare ribs. Cut from the loin section of the pig, they are also smaller than their counterparts. The question is—how to cook baby back ribs so that you can enjoy their tender flavor to the fullest? The answer is—there’s more than one way to skin that hog.
Rub, Sauce or Marinade?
There are a few basic ways to prepare baby back ribs. They include applying a rub, which is made up of various seasonings and then cooking the ribs using one of four methods outlined below. You can also bathe them in barbecue sauce and cook, or prior to cooking, you may soak the ribs in a marinade. Some people like to apply a rub and also cook the ribs in some BBQ sauce. The choice is yours. There are many rubs, sauces and marinades available at your local grocery store or butcher shop or via the Internet. Also, if you have the time and motivation, you may make your own rub, sauce or marinade.
Barbecued ribs are delicious and tender. When you barbecue something, it means that you are cooking it either in a smoker or a grill that’s been converted into a smoker using indirect heat. Sweet woods, such as pecan, peach or apple are recommended to enhance flavoring. The heat needs to be around 220 to 230 degrees F. Cooking ribs this way takes anywhere from two to three hours.
After prepping the ribs, many cooks like to wrap them in heavy-duty aluminum foil and douse with honey before placing them in the smoker. After about two hours in the smoker, carefully unwrap the extremely hot ribs, pour apple juice over them and place them back in the cooker for about another hour. This will give them a flavorful crust. (The apple juice helps to enhance this effect.) Remove them from the smoker and serve with your favorite sauce.
Cooking ribs on the gas grill using traditional grilling methods is not recommended. Grilling, unlike barbecuing, involves using direct heat at high temperatures. The problem with this method is it tends to dry out the ribs.
After prepping the ribs with a rub, heat the grill to 300 degrees F. Use a corner burner. Do not use the full compliment of burners on the grill. If you use the burners on the right side, then place the ribs on the left side of the grill. Close the grill top and cook for 30 minutes. Then place the ribs on heavy-duty aluminum foil and bathe in apple juice. Push the temperature up to 375 degrees F. Tightly wrap the ribs, place them on the grill and close the lid, cooking for another 30 minutes.
After a half hour, unwrap the ribs and lower the temperature to 250 degrees F. Place the ribs back on the grill and cook with the lid open, liberally coating with BBQ sauce every five minutes or so. After 30 minutes, they’re ready to be served.
Ribs in the oven are cooked at 250 degrees F for about 2.5 hours. After applying a rub, place the ribs in heavy-duty aluminum foil and baste heavily with a sauce. Close the foil tightly, making sure that the sauce is evenly distributed, and place on a baking sheet. Cook in the oven. After 2.5 hours, remove the ribs and apply a glaze, more BBQ sauce or apple juice and place under the broiler until a crust forms on the ribs. Once that happens, they’re ready to serve.
Ribs in a slow cooker or crockpot are easy to fix. Simply coat the ribs in a rub and place in the cooker. Add liquid, such as BBQ sauce, water or beer. The amount of liquid can be as little as a cup, which means the ribs will sit on top of it, to as much as three to four cups, which will keep the ribs soaking in the liquid throughout the cooking process. If you’re using water or beer, stick with a cup. Place the cover on the crockpot and cook the ribs on low for six to eight hours. If you want them crusty, after they’re done place them in your oven under the broiler for about 20 minutes. You can also serve them directly from the crockpot.
That’s the skinny on how to cook baby back ribs. You can enjoy them any time of the year, whether cooking outdoors or inside.