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Complete Idiot’s Guide to Grilling
by Don Mauer

Serves: 4
Prep time: about 25 minutes, plus 12 hours (overnight) to marinate and 90 minutes to bake
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serving size: 1/2 rack


    • 2 racks (about 5 to 6 lb. total) pork baby back ribs
    • 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup sweet paprika
    • 1/4 cup fresh-ground black pepper
    • 1/4 cup garlic salt
    • 1/4 cup chili powder
    • 2 TB. dry mustard
    • Bottled or homemade barbecue sauce


1. Use a knife to lift the corner of membrane on back of ribs. Using a paper towel to grip, completely pull off membrane and discard. Rinse racks under cold running water, and pat dry with paper towels. Cut racks in half along the edge of a center bone.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together brown sugar, paprika, black pepper, garlic salt, chili powder, and dry mustard until combined and all brown sugar lumps are pressed out. Rub both sides of ribs with a thick coat of seasoning rub. Place ribs in a 1-gallon reclosable plastic bag, push out air, seal the bag, and refrigerate overnight.

3. Place the oven rack in the center position, and preheat the oven to 300°E Remove ribs from the plastic bag, and discard the bag.

4. Line an oven-safe pan large enough to comfortably hold ribs with foil. Place ribs on the foil in the pan, and, using another piece of foil, cover and seal the pan. Bake 90 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, carefully remove the foil cover (steam will billow up), remove ribs to a pan or a tray to take to the grill, and discard liquid in the pan.

5. Fire up the grill:
For a charcoal grill: Open the bottom vents. Ignite 6 quarts or 2 1/2 pounds charcoal briquettes or hardwood charcoal. When the coals are hot, set up for a one-level medium-heat fire (so you can hold your hand 5 inches above the cooking rack for only 4 to 5 seconds).
For a gas grill: Turn each burner to high and ignite. Cover the grill. When hot, set the burners to medium heat.

6. On a charcoal or gas grill: Place ribs on the grill rack over coals or heat, cover, and grill 5 minutes. Turn ribs, cover, and grill 5 minutes. Repeat once. Serve, passing sauce.

Note 1: Another way to flavor grilled foods is to sprinkle the hot coals with soaked and drained dried herbs or lay sprigs of fresh herbs on the hot coals and close the cover.

Note 2: The most reliable way to tell whether your spareribs or baby back ribs are done is to use a "pull-apart" or "tear" test: toward the middle of the slab, take hold of two adjacent bones and give them a pull. If the meat offers a bit of resistance and then tears or pulls apart easily, the ribs are ready.


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