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BBQ Ribs on the Grill – How it’s Really Done

Grilling ribs on a charcoal grill takes skill and time to learn – the end results may vary greatly, however, if you decide to follow this simple guide, even if you’re a first timer – you are in for a treat.

This guide aims to help everyone get a better result each time they grill pork ribs, allowing full enjoyment of the fruits of their labor. It also helps people to further explore the cooking options that their new Smart Flip Grill provides.

The “Griller Dude” team hopes the information provided will be of help to you and giving you more insight into how St. Louis Style BBQ Ribs are made – both in backyard barbecues and professional places.

Choosing and Preparing your Pork Ribs for the BBQ

The BBQ ribs recipe oven then grill recipe we will be discussing is based on a Southern way of making ribs and it requires a St. Louis style cut from spare ribs.

The overall cooking time will be from two to four hours from start to finish – including the oven cooking, the meat preparation and the actual grilling.

Difference Between Spare Ribs and St. Louis Style BBQ Ribs

The difference between spare ribs and St. Louis style ribs is the cut and the amount of fat and meat that is left on the ribs. Spare ribs have more meat on top of them, which translates to far more fat.

This fat needs time to cook, making spare ribs recipes take twice as long to complete compared to St. Louis Style ribs, which take up to 5 hours depending on the preparation method.

You can ask your butcher to prepare your spare ribs and turn them into a St. Louis style rib cut, which leaves only the ribs along with the meat.

Preparing the Meat for Cooking

To prepare the ribs once they’ve defrosted and are at relative room temperature, you will need to remove the membrane which holds the bones to the skin. This membrane will become quite leathery during the cooking process and will leave an unpleasant texture.

To remove the membrane on the rib side of your St. Louis style ribs, you need to loosen it with a knife, placing the utensil between the ribs and the meat. With an upward motion, put gentle even pressure onto the membrane – this allows you to put your fingers and a paper towel between the meat and membrane – making it easier for you to pull it off.

Remove any excess membrane and fatty tissues which you deem too much. To fully make your ribs into a St. Louis style rack of ribs, remove any meat which is not on or around the ribs – this makes cooking a lot quicker and easier.

An important part of meat preparation is salting the meat to make it “sweat”. Salt draws out excess moisture from the meat, allowing for dry rub spices and marinades to adhere better and get into the meat. Salt on both sides and leave it to sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes, then season according your desires.

Seasoning Options – Different Tasty BBQ Ribs Recipes for Grilling

There are numerous seasoning options for BBQ grilled ribs – from simple salt and pepper, to intricate day-long marinades that take at least 24 hours to complete.

Surprisingly enough, even the modest salt and pepper variations come out tasting quite nicely, with some slight modifications required for intermediate basting.

Salt and Pepper Recipe for BBQ Ribs on a Charcoal Grill

For a simple salt and pepper charcoal grill BBQ ribs recipe you will need:

  • Sea salt;
  • Freshly ground black pepper;
  • Freshly ground lemon pepper;
  • White vinegar and a spray bottle.

For intermediate basting (so the ribs don’t dry) you should use a white vinegar and water “spritz” mixture. Ribs should not be turned during the main cooking because they will lose their juices which will cause them to dry out quicker.

Turning should start only after you start applying your marinade – in the case of salt and pepper BBQ ribs, you can use a pre-made BBQ sauce for the glazing.

Other seasoning ideas suitable for BBQ ribs on grill are:

  • Dry rub spice recipe - 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 4 teaspoons garlic salt, 4 teaspoons, dark brown sugar ¼ cup, cinnamon ¼ teaspoon, red pepper ¼ teaspoon, white pepper ¼ teaspoon, celery salt ½ teaspoon;
  • For wet seasoning and marinades - apple jelly (one-fourth cup), brown sugar (one-fourth cup), honey (one-fourth cup), apple cider (half a cup).

These recipes work best when the meat is at room temperature because the seasoning can adhere and infuse inside the fibers of the meat. Always be sure to remove the membrane to allow for better infusion of the flavors.

Combining Oven Baking and Grilling for BBQ Pork Ribs on the Grill

There are other methods for brining your ribs before grilling on a smart flip grill. We at Griller Dude experimented with combined oven baking and BBQ grilling for pork ribs and the final results are absolutely fantastic.

Some pork rib puritans would claim that oven baking ribs is a compromise with the true method of all day grilling and smoking, however, oven baking allows you to:

  • Better tenderize the meat;
  • Open up the meat for more seasoning;
  • Fully cook the protein and fat between the ribs;
  • Allow for rib bone marrow to start evaporating.

The process of combined baking and grilling allows for deeper more complete reception of outside spice sources such as ready-made BBQ sauces and dry spice rubs.

To best prepare your ribs for baking, you should always remove the membrane going along the rib rack – it’s of no use to you and makes full cooking harder. Prepare your dry spice rub and fully cover your ribs with it – allow for excess spices to fall off and place the ribs in a preheated oven – cover your tray with aluminum foil (shiny side in).

Let it sit for at least 1 hour at about 275F, then uncover – all of the natural juices should have started to come out. Leave the ribs in the oven for another 10 minutes while uncovered.

In the meantime, prepare your grill and use either apple or cherry wood to season your smoke – these blend well with the dry spices we mentioned in the seasoning section of the article.

Use the same foil you covered your ribs with and place it under the racks – it will catch all of the natural meat seasoning in.

Leave your ribs on the heat for about 1 ½ hours – look for visual ques for readiness – you can also check with a fork or with a tooth pick for resistance when pressing into the meat – there should be hardly any.

After your meat is tendour enough, you can use the wet spice mixture to further season the ribs which at this point should be almost ready to rest. Be careful not to poke the foil which is holding the juices because it will leak onto the coals underneath.

Best Advice on Cooking BBQ Pork Ribs on a Charcoal Grill    

As the ultimate Griller Dudes, we’ve got quite a lot to share for the best practices when cooking ribs on a charcoal grill.

The first and most important part is to have patience. Respect the process – don’t rush it – be mindful of the specifics of the procedure, meaning don’t force it and wait for the best possible time to act.

Removing your ribs or flipping them too often will not only lose heat, but it will also lose the important juices which actually carry the flavor. Just sit back, relax and enjoy a cold one while your ribs are cooking.

Cooking BBQ pork ribs on grill is all about the journey AND the end results – it’s an experience that people cherish greatly. Yes, it might take 4-5 hours to complete, but at the end of it all you’ll see that it’s worth it.

Hope this helps.

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