128: Barbecued Pork Back Ribs

I decided that I wanted Alex to try grilling ribs. Honestly, I’ve never really understood the fascination with ribs. Don’t get me wrong – I do think that they’re delicious. It’s just always a lot of work to get the meat off of the bone. They’re relatively expensive for what you get (it’s not a ton of meat per pound), and definitely messy, if you get them in a restaurant. When I do order them in a restaurant, it’s primarily because I want something barbecue (or because nothing else sounds particularly appealing).

I thought that ribs might be more satisfying if we cooked them at home. It just takes some time to make them.  When  back ribs went on sale, I decided that it was time to give ribs a chance. We bought some, and then I looked through my recipes to find this recipe for Barbecued Back Ribs that I’d printed out a few years ago.

The rack of back ribs was already cut into two. I had between 2.5 and 3 pounds of ribs, so I made 2/3rds of the spice rub listed in the recipe. This was salt, brown sugar, black pepper, dry mustard, cumin, and paprika. I only had half of the paprika that I needed, so I added a little chili powder to make up the difference. It was definitely not a full tablespoon, but the amount that I added may have made it a little more spicy hot than the recipe intended. I ground all this in a hand blender.

We didn’t have wood chips, but Alex fired up the grill and left the majority of the coals in the center so that the edges where the ribs would be wouldn’t be quite so hot. We had the ribs on the grill for a little over an hour and a half.  During the last 10 minutes of cooking, Alex brushed them with barbecue sauce (something generic that we had in the fridge).

These were excellent. I was so impressed that I had to get another picture of them once I cut them.

The meat was tender and easy to eat, and the rub was spicy. Unfortunately, they were also very, very salty. I drank so much water that evening.

This past weekend, we had spareribs that we were cooking, so I decided to make this spice rub for half of them (the other ribs were a different and new recipe). This time, I decided to halve the amount of salt in them, and that made a world of difference. I halved the amount of salt for the recipe, doubled the entire thing (3 tablespoons salt for 6 tablespoons of paprika, pepper, and brown sugar, rather than equal amounts as the original recipe called for), and put it on 9.5 pounds of spareribs. We didn’t brush sauce on these. These spareribs were not as spicy as the original back ribs (I should have made 2.5 times the amount of rub), but the proportion of salt was just right.

I will definitely make this spice rub again and again. I also think that I prefer the baby back ribs over the spareribs. The back ribs seemed to have more meat on them, while the spareribs took a lot more work to eat. I suppose I need to try more to see if this preference holds up.

I liked the spice rub, so much so that I couldn’t choose another one to use on the spareribs last weekend. Give it a try, but only use about half of the salt that it calls for.

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