Country-style ribs come from the blade end of the pork loin, close to the shoulder area of the hog. They may or may not include the “feather” bones and some of the shoulder blade, and you can find both boneless and bone-in. They are very meaty, meatier than many other rib cuts, and make an excellent grilling protein.
Country-style ribs are the perfect choice for adding layers of amazing BBQ flavor.
Step 1: Brining
You can start adding those layers by first brining the ribs. Brining helps the meat retain moisture. In the case of the best country-style ribs, it will also impart extra delicious flavor.
- Use about 4 quarts of water.
- Add equal parts of brown sugar and salt, about one half cup of each.
- Add the water and other ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil.
- Simmer for about five minutes, then remove from the heat to cool.
- Add a couple cups of ice to bring the temperature of the brine down to about 45o F.
- Put the brine in a plastic bag and add your meat and shake if you have spices added. Place the bag into a bowl in case of leakage and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
You can add spices or sliced onions and chopped garlic to the brine mixture to enhance this initial flavor.
NOTE: Adjust the recipe to ensure all of your ribs are submerged in the brine.
Step 2: Spice Rub
Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and pat dry with paper towels. Save some of the brine mixture to use to baste the ribs, if you like.
Drizzle the meat with canola or a similar oil. Be stingy with the oil. You don’t want it dripping onto the coals or the gas grill and causing a flame!
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NOTE: Why not use olive oil? Olive oil burns at a lower temperature than other vegetable oils, and the last thing you want are burnt ribs. If you like the taste of olive oil, drizzle a little over the finished ribs on the plate.
Take your spice rub and rub it into the meat.
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A good basic rub is equal parts brown sugar and salt, with about a quarter to a half that amount of pepper, depending on taste. To add more flavors, you can use garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, or even chili powder.
Step 3: Preparing the Grill
Make sure the grill grate is clean. Build a fire or heat the grill to a medium temperature. Lightly oil the grill grate.
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If you have a gas grill, heat to medium and allow the grill grate to heat for a few minutes before placing the ribs.
Step 4: Grilling the Ribs
You want these thick, meaty ribs to be moist and tender, but grilling can dry meat out fast. To prevent drying, put a disposable aluminum pan filled with a couple inches of water on the side of the grill opposite the heat or coals. Aluminum lowers the temperature, and a pan with water lowers it even more, providing you with a slow, even roast.
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The ribs will roast for about an hour. Once they reach an internal temperature of about 110oF, turn them over and close the lid so they can finish cooking internally.
Pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 to 160o F. That translates to medium rare to medium doneness.
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Tip: Once the pork achieves an internal temperature of about 140 to 145o F, remove it from the heat and cover. You can use that disposable pan turned upside down to do this.
NOTE: You may have read that pork should be cooked to 160o F. In 2011, a study indicated that an internal temperature of 145o F in pork was the equivalent of 160o F overall temperature. Read my recommendation on the best probe thermometers for grilling.
Step 5: Sauce
Many of us love a sauce on the ribs. Saucing is not an obligation for these meaty ribs, but if you want that next layer of flavor, the time to use it is when you close the lid.
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To sauce, put the sauce in a pot and heat. If you put cold sauce on the ribs, it will momentarily slow their roasting. Using tongs, grasp each section of the ribs and dip into the hot sauce, allowing the excess sauce to drip off.
Place the ribs back on the grill on the side opposite the heat and let them finish grilling.
The Finale: Plating the Ribs
Let the ribs rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. A great way to plate them is to use a very sharp knife to slice the meat into tender, flaky, thick slices. Drizzle some of the hot sauce across the ribs.
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Serve with your favorite sides. Wait for the complements.
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If you’re tired of trying to guess if your meat is cooked to perfection, use one of these reliable instant read thermometers.
Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Melodee and Tim S.