Barbecue Ribs

4 generous servings

Ribs and marinade:

  • 4 slabs of spare ribs or baby back ribs
  • Either apple juice and honey (enough honey to coat ribs and enough juice to cover) or Italian dressing (to cover)
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 bunch cilantro

For the grill:

  • Charcoal, enough to build a generous pyramid
  • Wood chunks, enough to cover the charcoal (cherry, mesquite, or apple, soaked in water or not)

The sauce:

  • 3 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoons marmalade/fruit preserves (whatever kind you like)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Fresh-squeezed juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds or flax seeds (optional)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons A-1 sauce
  • Lingham’s Hot Sauce (optional), to taste

Note: Ingredient measurements are simply guidelines.

Experiment and taste constantly to determine what you like.

For the ribs:

Cover ribs with the marinade and allow it to marinate for 1–2 days in the refrigerator (if you’re in a rush you can cook the ribs in a dish covered in foil for 1–2 hours and skip the overnight marinating—just make sure to cut some vents in the foil).

Making the sauce:

Combine all ingredients in a large pot over medium-low heat. Stir frequently to avoid burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot. Sauce is done when it is boiling and does not stop boiling when stirred. Slice cooked ribs and douse in the sauce while the sauce is still hot. When the sauce cools off it gets much thicker and depletes much faster with each dousing. As a personal preference, I do not put the sauce on the slabs while on the grill. After you get the sauce the way you like on the stovetop, putting it on the grill will change the flavor dramatically.

Preparing the barbecue and cooking the ribs:

Offset charcoal to one side of the barrel and create a mound that comes to a peak. This allows the grill to have a hot side and a warming area that smokes more slowly when the ribs are closer to being done. You can either light dry wood chunks with the charcoal, or place soaked chunks on the charcoal after it’s hot. Either way works well. Light the charcoal and allow to develop “white caps” all around the edges of the coals, then place ribs on the covered barbecue. Cook ribs until they develop a nice brownish red exterior, and the meat is close to falling off the bone, several hours. Start the ribs in the middle of the grill and move them to the hotter or cooler part of the barbecue as needed, being sure to rotate the slabs.

Tip: If you prefer to put your sauce on the ribs while grilling, don’t slice the individual bones until after sauced and grilled. For ease of handling, you can cut the slabs into halves or thirds before dousing and putting back on the grill. Once sauced, it is best to only use the warming area of the grill and not the hot side. Leave ribs on the grill only long enough for the sauce to get sticky on the ribs. Don’t burn the ribs.