Ribs, y’all.



*All photos (excluding the one below) were taken my great friend, the wonderfully talented, Kelly Vu.
Thanks, Kelly!

This week I made ribs from yet another Bon Appétit recipe that produced EXTREMELY TASTY RESULTS. Every month Bon Appétit holds a contest on their website called “Cook the Cover” where they ask their readers to cook the recipes from the cover of that month’s magazine. I’ve always wanted to join in but have never been ballsy enough to actually start a blog and write about it. Thankfully, this month’s request to cook the Best Ever Barbecued Ribs from the July cover came right about when I was wondering what to cook for my second post. Message from the Universe? I think yes.

I’ve never grilled ribs before…or… eaten ribs before? I honestly don’t remember if I’ve eaten ribs before, but after eating these, I feel like I would/should remember eating something so intensely delicious. Beyond never eating or grilling ribs, I’ve also never grilled anything on a real grill before. So basically, this whole recipe was an ADVENTURE! (I find these to be the most fun recipes to make, even though they usually end in me saying, “Tell me you if like it, and if you don’t like it, just lie to me and say you do.”)

I will start the story of my adventure by saying this: Eating meat? Awesome. Cooking meat? Gross. So very gross. There’s so much random meat juice and raw fattiness that leads to constantly washing your hands and cloroxing everything afterwards. But what I learned through my adventure was that all of this is SO WORTH IT.

To be fair, I am not really accustomed to cooking meat. My lovely mother is vegetarian, so cooking meat in the house is highly frowned upon. To depict how frowned upon cooking meat is, here’s an actual quote from when I showed her pictures of the ribs, “Ick. Whatever. I don’t know why you want to eat that junk. Animal flesh.” Moral of that story: most of my meat cooking experiences come after I left for college and I’m still learning. A lot.

Back to the ribs, this recipe is ridiculously simple. A day or two before you want to eat them, you rub them with seasoning, wrap them in foil, bake them for a couple of hours, reserve the meat juice and chill the ribs. Then on the day of grilling, you mix the reserved juice with barbecue sauce, and grill and baste the ribs for about 10 minutes until they are “lacquered and charred” and EAT. If that doesn’t sound easy, I don’t know what is.

Here are a few things I learned from cooking the Best Ever Barbecued Ribs:

  • The recipe gives you a choice of using baby back ribs or St. Louis-style ribs. Knowing nothing about ribs, I chose based on which was available in organic/non-hormone injected meat, which was the St. Louis-style. The only thing that changes with the style of ribs is the baking time- baby back ribs for two hours and St. Louis for three. Bon Appétit provides a guide to help you learn about different types of ribs. My ribs, although labeled “St. Louis-style” looked more like baby back, but a little larger, so I cooked them for 2 hours and let them sit in the oven for another 30 minutes after I turned it off.

(#1: Spareribs; #2: St. Louis-style spareribs; #3: baby back ribs; #4: country-style ribs)

  • Remember when I mentioned meat juices? Here is how Bon Appétit describes the expected interaction: “pour any juices from foil into a 4-cup heatproof measuring cup; reserve juices” and “add broth or water to rib juices, if needed, to measure 1 1/2 cups. What they do not tell you is that (warning: this is a little gross) when you chill the juices from the foil, the fat will rise to the top in a layer of orange fat-wax and, worse than that, the juice below it will become some sort of meat juice jelly. MEAT. JUICE. JELLY. Thankfully, as I was freaking out about this situation, my sister encouraged me to use the Google machine, which told me to “scrape the layer of fat off the top of the chilled liquid and dispose of it.” Crisis averted. From there I reheated the juice-jelly, and proceeded to add the chicken broth and barbecue sauce. (I used a store bought BBQ sauce to make life easier – Kraft’s Thick ‘N Spicy.)
  • When it comes to the grilling portion, you’re supposed to grill on high heat, turning frequently. As a newbie to the grill, I didn’t know what “high heat” was exactly, so we started at around 400-450 F. As the cooking went on, the heat went down, so I based the “done-ness” of the ribs on the “lacquered and charred” look rather than the time given. Also, Y’ALL. Grills are hot! I know that is extremely obvious, but I just want you to be prepared. When you combine Houston humidity (or regular summer weather depending on where you are located) and a gas grill on high heat, you are in for a Sweatfest. Dress appropriately. (And maybe even bring a tiny sweat towel so you can keep up the façade of being a sexy grill master.)

Basting the ribs while they grill next to Kelly’s burgers.

Once you’ve survived all that, the prep and heat and smoke, this will be your prize:

As I said, I’ve never had ribs before making these, but someone who has gave me one of the greatest compliments by saying, “this is what you want ribs to taste like when you make ribs.” I don’t know what I expected them to taste like, but they were good. Hot, falling off the bone, covered in barbecue sauce, and well seasoned throughout each bite. Perfect for eating while lounging and laughing and hanging out with friends.

Really, beyond the food, I think the best part was that I was able to grill and eat with my friends, drinking wine from a plastic cup and listening to Kelly serenade us on her ukulele. Summer is winding down, friends. Do yourself a favor and throw a little dinner party with friends, music, beer/wine, and, last but certainly not least, ribs.

If you didn’t catch the link to the recipe above, here it is again: Bon Appétit’s Best Ever Barbecued Ribs

wishing you the best in your food adventures,