Let’s start with preparing the rub. Many BBQ cooks keep their rub recipes a secret. That’s just plain silly in my opinion unless of course you’re competing in a competition or running your own restaurant. If you don’t share, the rest of us can’t get better at the craft.
Rub – Stage 1
2 tsp whole black peppercorns
2 tsp whole mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp celery seeds
Take the spices above and toast them in a small dry skillet over medium heat. You’ll know when it’s done when you get this amazing waft of spice filling your kitchen. It takes about 3-4 minutes in all. Remove the spices and let them cool a bit before transferring to a spice grinder.
Rub – Stage 2
Now add the following to the spice grinder and pulverise it to a nice fine grit.
3 tbsp paprika (smoked would be awesome too!)
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp pure sea salt
1.5 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
Grind it all up and set it aside… your ultimate rib rub is now done.
Let’s move to the sauce next. In a large saucepan add the following ingredients:
1 can of high octane Coca-Cola (the regular stuff in the red can)
1 cup Heinz ketchup
1/4 cup Apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp pure Canadian maple syrop
2 tbsp ultimate rib rub (yes, the stuff you just made!)
Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer (uncovered) for about 25 minutes. It’ll thicken up before you know it and it’ll go a gorgeous deep reddish brown colour. Let the sauce cool and then transfer it to an airtight jar. The sauce is good for 3 months however I’ve never ever seen enough to last more than a few weeks in this house!
Right, so now you’re done the necessary prep. Let’s get the ribs sorted next.
I purchased two slabs of frozen St Louis cut ribs from the local Singapore equivalent of Costco, The Warehouse Club. They were $9/slab and easily twice the size of the ribs I normally get from our friends at QB. Frozen ribs are fine by the way, though I do like to go to the wet market and occasionally buy fresh chilled pork, but that’s really for special occasions.
Thaw your ribs a few hours ahead of time, rinse them under cold water and then pat them dry on your cutting board. Some people insist on removing the silver skin. I don’t bother as it hardly makes a difference. Take a bit of vegetable oil and coat both sides of the slab. Now take your rub and give both the top and bottom a good liberal coating. Don’t forget to get the sides ensuring you get some rub between the bones. Now take each slab and wrap them tightly in some heavy duty aluminium foil. Try to make an airtight packet so that the juices don’t run out. Now place them in the fridge for a few hours. The longer the better. If you’re pressed for time, that’s ok too but I like to let the meat try and absorb the rub as much as possible.
Set up your grill for indirect heat with a drip pan full of hot water. Even though the ribs are protected in the foil, you want to ensure you’ve got a nice humid environment under the hood. Stabilise your temperature at a medium heat around 325F (163C). Put the ribs on a rack above your water pan, close the lid and let it rip for 2 hours.
Once your timer pings, carefully remove the packets from the grid, set them aside and now fire up the grill to get it as hot as it can. Carefully cut a corner off the packets and drip any of the juices that have remained into a pyrex measuring cup. Unwrap your ribs and get them onto the hot grid. Timing isn’t that critical here so you don’t have to rush. Put the ribs meat-side up and paint them with the sauce you made a few hours earlier. Make sure your sauce isn’t cold, right out of the fridge. I keep it handy at room temperature as I baste any meat. After about two minutes, carefully flip the slabs and paint the bottom side of the ribs. Keep flipping every two minutes or so to get a wonderful caramelisation across the ribs. Crisp them up carefully with the lid open and for the love of God, don’t walk away, the ribs can burn quite easily.
Remove the ribs when they’re nice and crispy and serve the slabs whole. Let your guests take as much or as little as they like. We served the ribs with an amazing ratatouille incorporating roasted red pepper, tomato, onion, garlic, Italian herbs, feta, parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
If you check out the photos, you’ll clearly see that the family LOVED these ribs. In fact, my darling bride Heather proclaimed quite categorically, these were the BEST ribs we’ve ever had. Naturally, I took a bow and immediately wanted to share this recipe with the world. Let us know how it goes!
Overall Heather Rating: 10/10