My first real job was working at a “famous for ribs” joint. Huge sheet pans fully loaded with baby back and spare ribs slow roasted in the oven for hours and were finished to order on the grills, lovingly slathered with their signature barbecue sauces, and devoured by devoted regulars.
I also remember my grandma boiling ribs before grilling them for family barbecues. I thought it was strange, but didn’t question her reason behind it since I was young at the time. I’m not sure if she added the ribs to hot water or cold water (which has the potential of affecting the flavor in the end) and they were quite tasty if memory serves me…
Of course, slow cooked ribs are delish too. But when my order of baby back ribs came from US Wellness Meats, I knew I wanted to do them “by the books” – the training books, that is.
I was in for hours of rib tending with a delicious payoff!
For this recipe, I used heritage-raised pork baby back ribs. You could, of course, use spare ribs/St. Louis-style ribs (they will take a little longer in the oven though) if that’s what you prefer or have in the freezer. Baby back ribs are curved and shorter and are cut from the upper ribs (where they meet the spine). They are naturally more tender and leaner than spareribs. Spare ribs lie flat, have more fat, and more meat. No matter the type of rib cut, you’ll know the ribs are done when a knife easily slides into the thickest part of the meat. Grilling is just to let the sauce get to know the ribs, let those flavors meld on an open flame, and let a whole new level of happiness begin.
Don’t get me wrong, I think ribs (when done right) are delicious on their own. But there’s something about sitting down to a rack of saucy, sticky ribs…
You can make your own AIP barbecue sauce. I have many times before. But I also am not shy about taking some help with AIP sauces when they are available. When I first started the paleo autoimmune protocol, there were no barbecue sauces you could simply grab a bottle of out of your pantry. Now there’s KC Natural BBQ sauce. They make two varieties (and I hear they’re working on a third). For this recipe I used the Mastodon sauce, it is thin, flavorful, and easy to use for a marinade and/or basting.
- Preheat oven to 200° F. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper and racks. Divide the salt between the two racks of ribs, and massage into the meat on both sides.
- Lay salted ribs on the racks and let slow roast 4-5 hours. Halfway through, cover the ribs with parchment paper and foil.
- Check on their doneness by inserting a knife into the thickest part of the meat. It should slide right in, otherwise let them go a little longer.
- Remove the pans from oven and set aside for now.
- Preheat your grill to a low heat setting and gather your grilling tools: a basting brush, a bowl with barbecue sauce, tongs, and a large chopping block or platter.
- Slide the ribs onto the platter or chopping block and carry out to your grill.
- Carefully slide the ribs onto the hot grill. Brush the barbecue sauce evenly over the ribs.
- Let cook, adding more sauce as needed, for about 5-10 minutes. Turn off the grill and remove the ribs to the platter or chopping block. Save any "extra" sauce for serving at the table.
- Let the ribs rest, covered, for 10 minutes before slicing between the bones to serve individual portions.
- Serve immediately with the extra barbecue sauce for dipping.
The whole family enjoyed these ribs. The Mister was super impressed with how they turned out… possibly even more so because he didn’t have to “man the grill”. I think he’s coming to realize that me asking for a grill for Mother’s Day was not such a bad idea! 😉