Summer is the time when people start thinking about firing up their grills. When you have block BBQs. When you picnic. Depending on where you live, Summer may be on its way out. For me, living in Hell’s Waiting Room aka Houston, TX, Summer is still in full swing and will be for another 3 months or so. No kidding.
The Hubbz is in charge of the grill in our family. That’s because I’m unwilling to stand in the heat and then take on the heat and smoke from the grill. I don’t enjoy smelling like hickory or maple or any kind of smoke, for that matter. So he does it because he loves, but mostly because he loves grilling. And since I love him, I try to keep him from the grill while Hell’s Waiting Room is in the triple digit range.
I’ve rambled on. Heat does that to my brain. So do delicious, falling-off the bone, tangy sweet pork spareribs. Yep. That’s what this is all about. Pork. Isn’t that what it’s always about? I’ve shared other recipes for spareribs: oven-q’d and tamarind glazed. This time we’re talking grilled and basted with my Dad’s secret recipe. It won’t be secret after this post, sorry Dad.
Spareribs tend to have more meat and fat than baby back ribs, they’re also not as tender but they ARE much less expensive than the skinny little baby ribs. Besides, who wants to be accused of eating baby parts? I say, if you’ve not tried spareribs, give them a chance.
Dad’s BBQ Spareribs
For the ribs
1 spare rib rack, fat trimmed (approx 5 lbs)
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp brown sugar
Mix all the ingredients into a dry paste, and rub it into the ribs. Allow them to marinate for a few hours or overnight if you have the time. Keep them refrigerated until 30 minutes before cooking. In the meantime, prepare the bbq sauce.
Dad’s Awesome BBQ Sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, pureed
3 thyme sprigs, chopped
1-1/2 cp ketchup
1-1/2 tbsp English dry mustard
1 tsp allspice
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cp water
Salt & pepper
Hot sauce, to taste
Heat the oil in a small saucepan and add the onions, cooking them until translucent. Then add the garlic and thyme, cook for just a couple of minutes, be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the next 7 ingredients and stir well. Allow them to simmer for about 20 minutes or so, until it thickens nicely. Adjust the seasoning as necessary, to include some hot sauce for a bit of a kick. Set aside to cool.
Cooking the ribs:
The secret to great spareribs is to cook them slowly, at low temperatures. We use one of those Lil Smokey grills, nothing fancy, but gets it done every time. The Hubbz builds the fire and let’s it cool down to low on the Lil Smokey gauge. You want to cook them at a temperature no higher than 325. While your grill reaches the right temperature, get the ribs ready for their tan-time.
Create a steam tent by measuring out 2 pieces of heavy foil paper to the length of the rib rack. Align both pieces together and fold the seams together to about 1/2-in wide. Then fold again, the objective is to seal it so you have no leaks. Now you should have one long and wide piece of foil.
Place the ribs in the middle of the foil tent, then join the edges together and seal them closed. Carefully place the foil-wrapped ribs over your preheated grill, put the lid over and let them cook undisturbed. You’re looking at about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, so keep an eye on the heat and add a bit more charcoal as needed.
At the end of 90 minutes, remove the tented ribs from the grill, don’t panic, they’re not done cooking. It’s time to heat up the fire a bit. Add more charcoal and, if you like the smoky flavors of bbq, add some wood chips–hickory, apple, maple.
Remove the ribs from the foil and baste both sides with the sauce. Once the heat has come up, place the ribs back on the fire. You will need to stay close by, because the sauce will begin to caramelize and can burn if you’re not paying attention. Give the ribs a flip and baste. If you do this at about 5 minute intervals, you’ll be able to bake on that sauce after 2 or 3 flips. Believe me, you want to bake it on.
Notice how the meat has shrunken away from the bones? That’s prove positive you’re about to eat some ‘fall off the bone ribs’. Alternatively, you could cook the ribs tented in the oven for the first 90 minutes, then transfer to the grill to add some of that smokiness and char marks. This goes great with potato salad and roasted corn on the cob!