The Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue | America’s Test Kitchen, 2005 | Serves 4
For a potent spice flavor for these barbecued baby back ribs, brine and dry the ribs as directed, then coat them with the spice rub, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate overnight before grilling. Serve with barbecue sauce if you like.—the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated
For the dry rub (makes 1 cup)
4 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
For the baby back ribs
1/2 cup table salt (see Note)
1/4 cup sugar
2 full racks baby back ribs or loin back ribs (about 4 pounds total)
1/4 cup dry rub
Two 3-inch wood chunks
Make the dry rub
1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.
Prepare the baby back ribs
1. Dissolve the salt and sugar in 4 quarts of cold water in a large container. Submerge the baby back ribs in the brine and refrigerate 1 hour until fully seasoned. Remove the ribs from the brine and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels.
2. Rub each side of the racks with 1 tablespoon of the dry rub and refrigerate the racks for 30 minutes.
3. While the ribs are being brined, soak the wood chunks in cold water to cover for 1 hour and drain.
4. Meanwhile, light a large chimney starter filled three quarters with charcoal briquettes (about 4 1/2 quarts) and allow to burn until all the charcoal is covered with a layer of fine gray ash. Build a modified two-level fire by spreading the coals into one side of the grill, piling them up in a mound 2 or 3 briquettes high, leaving the other half with no coals. Keep the bottom vents completely open. Place the wood chunks on top of the charcoal. Put the cooking grate in place, open the grill lid vents completely, and cover, turning the lid so that the vents are opposite the wood chunks to draw smoke through the grill. Let the grate heat for 5 minutes and use a grill brush to scrape the cooking grate clean.
5. Place the baby back ribs on the cooler side of grill. Cover, positioning the lid so that the vents are opposite the wood chunks to draw smoke through the grill (the temperature inside the grill should register about 350°F (175°C) but will soon start dropping).
6. Cook for 2 hours, until the grill temperature drops to about 250°F (120°C), flipping the rib racks, switching their position so that the rack that was nearest the fire is on the outside, and turning the racks 180 degrees every 30 minutes. Add 10 fresh briquettes to the pile of coals. Continue to cook [the temperature should register 275 to 300 °F (135-150°C )], flipping, switching, and rotating the ribs every 30 minutes, until the meat easily pulls away from the bone, 1 1/2 to 2 hours longer.
7. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board, cut between the bones, and serve.
Note: Due to the variance in the airiness of the two major brands of kosher salt, we are providing the following information. If you wish to use kosher salt for brining, use the following conversion chart:
1/4 cup table salt = 1/2 cup Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt; or
1/4 cup table salt = 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Morton Kosher Salt
Recipe © 2005 the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated. Photo © 2005 Carl Tremblay. All rights reserved.