Ian Kragen

For the past several months, I have been on a mission to teach myself, through trial and error, how to barbecue pork and beef ribs. Now, going into this I knew straight off there were going to be a few obstacles. Cost being the main one.

Beef ribs from Bob’s

Smart & Final sells Famer John pork ribs – extra meaty – roughly 2.8 pounds a rack for about $7-$10 and the deli at Bob’s Market charges $5.99 a pound for beef back ribs. I will say, though, all their various cuts of meat are excellent; expensive but excellent.

Then there is the time factor. When I started this, I did not have the time available in my day or weekends included to slow cook the ribs for several hours, which is the essence of barbeque – slow cooking over lower heat for multiple hours.

At some point, I realized it is not barbecue but grilling I was going for. Which suited just fine. To date, I have made four to five attempts at grilling beef and pork ribs. Each time the preparation has been different. Ingredients, cook time and temperature, and cooking method have varied.

I have found that wrapping the ribs in foil and baking them for an hour or more, depending on size, and then finishing them off on the grill helps decrease my overall cook time.

Two and a half hours at 300

Since I prefer a dry rub, I have primarily experimented with different rub ingredients. The first time I made pork ribs I looked online and found a fairly simple “Memphis Style” recipe that I had all the ingredients for. Without deviating much from the instructions, I rubbed the ribs, wrapped them and then put them in the oven for one and a half hours. Pulled them out and threw them on the grill.

What I learned from that experience is that paprika is a very strong seasoning and less is really more. While the meat was nice and tender the taste of paprika was too much for me to enjoy. Lesson learned.

The next time I rubbed the pork ribs with a season salt I had lying around. Again, while tender, the meat was way too salty. Reminded me of the time I sent a prime rib steak back at Hillstone because it was too salty. Another lesson Learned.

My girlfriend and I were making kabobs one night and we found a fairly simple recipe. It was called Mom’s Beef Shish Kabobs and we found it on allrecipies.com. I decided to take that same recipe, with a few modifications and use it as a marinade for beef ribs.

I placed the marinade and the ribs in a large Ziploc and let it do it’s thing over night. Next day, I wrapped them in foil and poured the remaining marinade on the ribs and let them bake for two hours at 325 degrees.

They were good but they made us gassy

After they were done, I threw them on the grill for about an hour at 300 degrees periodically basting the ribs with the baked marinade and meat juices. The ribs tasted really good. To date, I think those were the best ribs I have made. The marinade was delicious. People wolfed them down.

I finally found some sort of foundation to work with. I plan on preparing the same marinade but I am going to change the cook time and temperature. I want to lower the oven temperature and lengthen the cook time to maybe three to three and a half hours and doing something similar on the grill.

I’m also going to lower the grill temperature and let them cook longer while basting the meat so it won’t dry out. I want the meat to be more tender so it falls off the bone and I think the increase cook time will achieve that.

I am enjoying my journey learning how to grill ribs and to throw them in to the mix with steaks, tri-tip, pork chops, chicken, fish, bell peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, corn, just to name a few makes our backyard get-togethers amazing.

One day when I have the time and the money, I would love to learn how to use a smoker, maybe even build my own barrel barbeque, slow cook using hardwood charcoal. Who knows? Sounds like a lot of fun to me. Maybe I will even get the chance to cook for you!