Four Tips for Great Ribs

If I told you the trick to making amazing ribs was as simple as jumping on one foot and rubbing your head at the same time. Would you do it? How about if I told you to wrap yourself in a white sheet and run around the front lawn announcing you were the ghost of ribs past. Would you run to the nearest Macy’s to take advantage of the Martha Stewart linen sale? Well, I’m hear to tell you, I did all those things and, while mildly entertaining, it didn’t improve my rib making skills one bit.

Now I know, I know. The idea of making tender and succulent ribs could seem like a daunting task. I’m always amazed by rib fanatics featured on the Food Network with their lucky charms and voodoo secret sauce. Well, I am here to tell you there is no need to twist your arm and wince in pain to impress your friends and make an amazing rib fest. Here are a four simple and easy tips for making restaurant-style ribs in your own oven.

Forget Making Your Own Sauce:
The first time I decided to make ribs for a dinner party, I thought it would be fun to make a zesty BBQ sauce from scratch. “I’m a pro, I can make a sauce just as good as any of those crazy bottled varieties,” I thought to myself. After an evening of tomato can pouring and brown sugar adding, I concocted one of the most terrible sauces I could have ever imagined. That experience made me realize there is a multi-billion dollar industry that is ripe with thousands of wonderful BBQ sauce flavors. So I say, forget making your own sauce and focus on the rib.

Never Boil Your Ribs:
When Susan Powter screamed, “Stop the insanity,” I like to believe she was really talking about people who boil their ribs before roasting them. Boiling ribs does nothing more than create shards of dryness with any resemblance of flavor poured down the drain with the water.

Go Low and Slow:
The sweet spot for roasting ribs is 250 degrees. I like to start the cooking process at 325 degrees for 10 minutes and then reduce for the remaining three to four hours. Yes, THREE to FOUR hours. Any lower and you run the risk of drying the meat out and any higher an the meat will never fall away from the bone.

Remove the Membrane:
This may sound a little gross, but it actually makes a big difference. Located on the backside of the bone is a thin membrane that is extremely tough and completely impervious to any sauce. The easiest way to remove it is by running a butter knife along the short end of the ribs and pull slowly with a paper towel. The towel helps to grip the tough flesh long enough to remove.

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  • I love to roast ribs in well-seasoned cast-iron. First blotting them dry with paper towel and letting them go 15 min at 350f with no sauce, then draining off extra liquids. Cut heat to 250f, slather w/BBQ sauce, baste every so often. When meat shrinks to expose bones (I only use bone-in ribs) slather w/fresh layer of sauce. Wait 10 mins and put under broiler and check frequently until sauce just starts to develop a little crackly layer. The caramelized pork (and sauce) combined with the tenderness and moisture retention from the cast iron give the ribs extra taste dimension. Mustn’t be allowed to cool in iron skillet- I transfer to warmed crock

  • thanks for the tips! we made ribs once (with a homemade sauce) and they came out awful! have been too dejected to try again, but this makes me feel better 🙂 do you have a favorite bbq sauce you use?

  • Low and slow is most certainly the key. I like to put a dry rub (Memphis) on mine the night before. I then warm up the grill and put the ribs on the warming rack for indirect heat. I generally keep them at about 215-225 for about six hours keeping wood chips in the smoker box the whole time. For wet ribs I’ll slather them in sauce and wrap in foil for the last 1-2 hours.

  • Thank you Cory! For years I have argued with Brian about how long to cook ribs. He always takes the pan out of the oven after 45 minutes! I always told him that the meat will fall off the bone after 3-4 hours of slow cooking on low heat. Now I can prove it to him! LOL p.s. Waiting for that mac & cheese slow cooker recipe!

  • I’m going to do dry rub ribs next weekend 🙂
    Low & Slow on the grill with wood chips.
    I use Steve Rachlin’s Memphis rub and some vinegar, mustard mop. It’s a once a year treat I forgoty to have last year 🙁
    Maybe I’ll go all out and add that Mac& Cheese I see in the background!