It's Labor Day weekend, and we are firing up the grill. A small crowd is expected to join us for dinner, and baby back pork ribs are on the menu. Now, there are all sorts of BBQ preparations, ranging from the restraint of a piece of steak to the elegance of a whole fish, or the finesse of, say, a pizza. None of this applies. Today we are getting down and dirty. I have 4 racks of baby back ribs ready to be smeared with a dry spice rub, slow cooked in the oven and then finished on the grill to crispen and darken the meat. This is Fred Flintstone material: white shirts, silverware and cloth napkins need not apply. We can't wait.
The key to making these ribs is in the method. I begin with a dry rub which coats and permeates the meat with a sweet, spicy, smoky flavor as they cook long and slow in a low-heat oven. Thirty minutes before serving, the ribs are transferred to the BBQ where they grill over a low fire long enough to crispen and darken in color. The combination of the dry spice and the natural succulence of the meat is a perfect balance. However, if you like your ribs a bit more "wet", either baste them right at the end when removing from the grill or serve with a sauce on the side for dipping.
Dry Spice Rubbed Baby Back Pork Ribs
For the rub:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon cayenne (or to taste)
3 racks baby back pork ribs
Preheat oven to 200 F. (100 C.) Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl and mix well.
Pat ribs dry with a paper towel. Arrange in one layer on 2 baking sheets. Rub the spices all over the ribs on both sides, coating well. Bake in oven for 3 hours.
Prepare grill. Grill ribs on a rack over medium-low heat, turning, until the meat darkens and crispens.
If using a sauce, baste ribs just before removing from grill. Serve with optional sauce on the side.
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