Fall-Off-the-Bone Baby Back Ribs

For years I played around with barbecue baby back ribs, trying to find a way to make them so that the meat was moist and tender but also relatively quick and easy. A few years ago, Shay, who worked with me since the opening of Foster’s Market, gave me her recipe for ribs, and they’re as good as any I’ve ever had. The ribs can be baked (through step 3) up to a day in advance, but you’ll need to leave them on the grill a few minutes longer to make sure they heat all the way through.

The term “living high on the hog” comes from the concept of eating the best meat on the pig, those cuts farthest from the ground, and thus has come to refer to living or eating well. Baby back ribs come from the back of the pig, about as high as it gets, and they’re my favorites. They are smaller and leaner than spare ribs, which come from the belly or side of the pig. When they’re cooked right, baby backs are very tender.–Sara Foster

LC Ooooh Baby Note

These baby back ribs are, quite literally and quite true to their name, fall-off-the-bone tender by the time they come out of the oven. ONly then are they tossed on the grill for a spell. The time on the grill may be relatively short, but it slaps a slightly smoky flavor onto the ribs and works some important alchemy with the barbecue sauce. Seeing as you’re not standing out in the cold tending the grill for hours, seems like you can tuck into these any time of year, even midwinter come Super Bowl. [Editor's Note: On particularly chilly or windy or rainy days, we dare say these could do without the time on the grill. Just be sure to baste the ribs during the final minutes and perhaps run 'em under the broiler for just a minute or so.]

Fall-Off-the-Bone Baby Back Ribs Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 2 H, 45 M
  • Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 2 slabs (about 3 1/2 pounds total) baby back ribs
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 12-ounce bottle of beer
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups Chipotle Maple Barbecue Sauce, or your favorite bottled sauce (although made-from-scratch will always taste better)

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (163° C).
  • 2. To remove the membrane from the back of the ribs, slip the tip of a small, dull knife, such as a table knife, in between the membrane and bone anywhere along the edge of the slab of ribs. Lift the knife to separate the membrane from the bone, then grab the membrane with a paper towel (the towel helps keep the membrane from slipping) and rip it off.
  • 3. Spread the onion slices evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Place the ribs, bone side down, on the onion. Pour the beer over the ribs, season with salt and pepper, and cover tightly with foil. Bake, undisturbed, for 2 hours.
  • 4. Prepare a fire in a charcoal grill and let the coals burn to a gray ash with a faint red glow, or until you can hold your hand 3 to 4 inches above the fire for no more than 6 seconds.
  • 5. Brush both sides of the baby back ribs with the barbecue sauce and place the ribs, meat side down, over the coals. Grill the ribs, basting the top side several times, until slightly charred, 10 to 15 minutes. Turn the slab of ribs and liberally baste the cooked side. Treat the slab gingerly, so as not to lose any of the luscious meat to the flames of the grill. Close the lid of the grill and cook the ribs, basting often, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Cut the slabs into individual ribs, pile them onto a large platter, and serve warm.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Alexander Cowan

May 25, 2010

These were so delicious and easy to make—just set ‘em and forget ‘em! My butcher was fresh out of baby back ribs, so I ended up using trimmed-down St Louis-style ribs. The recipe went off without a hitch, until I pulled the ribs at 2 hours and found that while the bone came out quite easily, the meat was still on the tough side. I should’ve adjusted the cooking time for the thick cut. I’d imagine with the smaller baby back ribs, that the 2-hour cooking time would’ve been quite sufficient. Nonetheless, the ribs finished splendidly on the grill, and tasted so good with the slight char from the open flames.

Testers Choice
Dan Kraan

May 25, 2010

I tend to be more of a purist when it comes to barbecue, but if you’re in a hurry, or inexperienced with a smoker, this does a very good job of producing high quality ribs. The sweetish, zesty, smoky sauce goes very well with the ribs, but be mindful of the heat to prevent scorching. I had great results with less than 10 minutes per side. After all, the ribs are already cooked, and it’s just the sauce that has to be cooked onto them.

Testers Choice
Melissa Maedgen

May 25, 2010

These ribs lived up to their name. Baking them slowly with beer and finishing them on the grill was so easy and worked just perfectly. The biggest problem will be turning the ribs on the grill without them falling apart on you, because they really are that tender. The sauce is great for basting–it’s clearly intended to caramelize on the grill to fully develop its flavors. It’s not really the kind of sauce you would serve on the side, but cooked on the ribs it was delicious.

Testers Choice
Karen Depp

May 25, 2010

Not only is this one of the easiest recipes, it’s also among the very best recipes for ribs. The directions are clear and concise, and the result is delicious. My table of critics deemed these “the best ever,” “yummy,” “moist and tender, fall off the bones for sure,” and “make these again and again!” These eager eaters ranged in age from 67 to 9 years and from “investigative” to “professional-almost” in experience. The recipe for the ribs is one that also invites experimentation with other liquids and vegetables to put in the pan.

The sauce is a combination of sweet and piquant with a shot of “pow” at the end. It has a different taste before being grilled on the meat–I think the grilling process caramelizes some of the sugars and gives the sauce a more well-rounded and complete taste. This is a definite keeper.


Comments
Comments
  1. Courtney says:

    Any suggestions on temperature for making these on a gas grill? Thanks!

    • David Leite says:

      Courtney, medium would work fine. You’re just finishing them off, rather than cooling them.

  2. RisaG says:

    Huge rib fans around here. These look amazing. I see them in my near future.

  3. We reversed the cooking/grilling process and these were amazing and so incredibly easy. Don’t skip the sauce – it is the perfect complement!

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Send it along. Covet one of those spiffy pictures of yourself to go along with your comment? Get a free Gravatar. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

*

Daily Subscription

Enter your email address and get all of our updates sent to your inbox the moment they're posted. Be the first on your block to be in the know.

Preview daily e-mail

Weekly Subscription

Hate tons of emails? Do you prefer info delivered in a neat, easy-to-digest (pun intended) form? Then enter your email address for our weekly newsletter.

Preview weekly e-mail