Family feud-worthy ribs

“Don’t tell your Uncle Dave…but I like your ribs better.”** In my family, those words are spoken quietly out of earshot of most other family members, but I’ve been lucky enough to hear them a few times over the past few years that I’ve made these ribs for get-togethers at my mom’s house.

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Braised and grilled ribs, good enough to start a family feud.

Ok, so the ribs may not actually instigate a family feud (though this post might), but they are damn good.

I actually started making them before I even had a grill, since they’re cooked mostly in the oven and finished under the broiler. They were delicious that way so non-grill-have-ers can make these with no problems at all, but they’re amazing on the grill. They don’t take much effort or attention, are pretty much fool-proof, and considering the last time I made these I found a neighbor’s dog standing on my porch waiting for his share, they appeal to just about everyone.

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Rub, ready to go.

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The ribs need at least a few hours in the fridge to allow the sugar and salt to dissolve into the meat.

One of the great things about this recipe is that the preparation can be scheduled to fit your needs. The rub can be prepared in advance (it actually makes more than is needed for one recipe, so you can save the rest for your next rib-fest), the ribs can be cooked the morning of a cook-out or even the day before (or toss half a rack in the freezer and have ribs in December), and then quickly finished on the grill or under the broiler with a slather of sauce.

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Not as good as my uncle’s sauce, but still pretty tasty.

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Delicious.

However or whenever you make these, whether you usurp the family rib-maker or not, they are best served with lots of amazing family or friends gathered around to share. Though I doubt anyone has family as awesome as mine.

**He does, however, make great barbecue sauce, kielbasa, and some killer whole grilled onions. His ribs are pretty good too.

Cider-Braised Ribs
Serves 4-6; modified from Alton Brown’s process for braised ribs

2 racks baby-back ribs

Rub (enough for 4 racks of ribs)
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) light brown sugar, tightly packed
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ancho powder
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Braise
1 cup cider (or apple juice)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Combine the ingredients for the rub in a bowl and mix well. In a jelly-roll or other pan with raised edges, place each rack of ribs on a long sheet of heavy-duty foil and sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of the rub over each side, rubbing it well into the meat. Be careful not to tear or puncture the foil. Wrap the foil around each rack, crimping it at the top and ends to create a foil packet, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.

Stir together the ingredients for the braise in a small saucepan or microwave-proof measuring cup and heat just until the honey melts. Open one end of the foil packet for each rack of ribs and divide the liquid evenly between the packets. Tilt the pan slightly to make sure the liquid is even (if you find that your foil had a hole and the liquid leaks into the pan–as has happened to me more than once when I’m not being careful–you can pour the liquid back into a measuring cup, wrap the ribs in new foil, and re-pour the liquid). Braise ribs in the oven for 2 hours or just until the meat begins to pull away from the edges of the bones; this means the meat will be tender but not completely fall-off-the-bone. Discard the braising liquid.

Once the ribs are cooked, they can be refrigerated (or frozen); simply let the ribs come back to room temperature before continuing. If you can’t wait, heat up the grill or turn on your oven’s broiler to high. Brush ribs with your preferred store-bought or homemade (or Uncle Dave-made, if you’re so lucky) barbecue sauce and cook to your preferred doneness; I like my ribs to have a nice layer of carmelized sauce. Cut the ribs into individual pieces, serve with extra sauce on the side, and prepare for the family best-ribs debate to begin.

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16 thoughts on “Family feud-worthy ribs

  1. THESE ARE THE LAZYMAN’S WAY TO COOK, BUT THEY ARE GOOD. ACTUALLY, SUNDAY I CAME HOME FROM GOLF NEEDING A NAP AND HAD A SLAB ALREADY RUBBED AND DI NOT FEEL LIKE TENDING TO THEM FOR 3 HOURS ON A SMOKER, SO I BAKES THEM FOR 3 HOURS @220 DEGREES AND THEN PUT THEM ON THE GAS GRILL WITH MY SAUCE AND I’LL TELL YOU, FOR THE LITTLE AMOUNT OF WORK, THEY WERE PRETTY GOOD.
    I’LL HAVE TO TRY YOUR RUB, IT’S CLOSE TO WHAT I DO BUT YOU HAVE 2 EXTRA INGREDIENTS.
    GRILL ON GARTH!!!

    UNCLE DAVE

    • You say lazy, I say effective time management :-) Your sauce is better than mine though, I haven’t gotten the proportions right yet. And those onions from last year were so good, I have to remember to make them the next time I have friends over for dinner.

      • ACTUALLY, TO BE HONEST, I START WITH “THE JUG” BBQ SAUCE AND THROW EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK IN THERE, A LOT OF CHILI BASED POWDERS AND SAUCES. WHEN I COOKED MINE IN THE OVEN, I DID NOT PUT ANY “BRAISE”, JUST THE RUB. I’LL HAVE TO TRY A LIQUID ON MINE, I HAVE A GOLF OUTING AT MY HOUSE IN 2 WEEKS AND IT’S A PAIN TO WAIT 3 HOURS FOR THE RIBS TO COOK, MIGHT TRY COOKING THEM SATURDAY THEN SMOKE THEM FOR ABOUT ANOTHER HOUR WITH MY SAUCE, I’M HUNGRY ALREADY!

  2. And so the battle continues – Hatfields and McCoys style!!! I actually don’t care for ribs that much and understand the debate of fall off the bone ribs versus a more smokey variety but I like this version because of the simplicity of baking them.

    Mom

  3. This is really good reading and it’s good to know you’re talking to each other. We are really enjoying this blog of yours.

  4. CHRISTINA, I MADE THE RIBS SATURDAY WITH USING YOUR BRAISE, BUT AFTER COOKING IN OVEN @200 FOR 2 HOURS, I PUT THEM IN MY 55 GALLON DRUM SMOKED FOR ANOTHER HOUR AND 1/2 WITH MY SAUCE, CINTHIA SAID THEY WERE SOME OF THE BEST SHE EVER HAD, THE ONLY 2 THINGS I DID NOT LIKE WAS NOT ENOUGH SMOKE FLAVOR AND I LIKE TO BITE THEM OFF THE BONE AND THESE WERE SO TENDER THEY JUMPED OFF THE BONE. SO I’M GOING TO TRY THESE OUT ON MY GOLF LEAGUE IN 2 WEEKS BUT I AM GOING TO ADD SOME LIQUID SMOKE TO THE BRAISE AND MAYBE COOK THEM FOR 1 1/2 HOUR IN THE OVEN BEFORE SMOKING, TOGHETHER WE WILL CONQUER THE RIB WORLD. I’LL LET YOU KNOW HOW IT GOES

    • Oh awesome!! That sounds like a great combination–if I had a 55-gallon drum-smoker, I’m sure I would finish them that way too :-) On the time in the oven, I actually had dropped it down from 2.5 hours in the original recipe since you could barely pick up a rib to eat without the meat falling off. I think an hour and a half in the oven and then the smoker would be just right.

  5. WELL, HAD THE GOLF LEAGUE COOKOUT AND HALF THE GUYS LIKED THE “NEW” WAY OF COOKING THEM AND HALF LIKED THE OOLD SLOW SMOKED WAY, I COOKED THEM ON SATURDAY AND EVERYONE LIKED EATING SOONER, SOOOO THE DEBATE GOES ON

  6. Hi. I found your recipe through Pinterest…I think(?) Anyway, I really love this recipe. I’ve made it twice now. I’ve cooked them two ways, once for 8 hrs. in the slow cooker and the other in the oven as per your direction. When I cooked it on low in the slow cooker, the meat really fell right off the bone. Cooking it in the oven still produced a nice result but the ribs had some bite to it. Unfortunately, we don’t have a grill but I used your method of broiling with the BBQ sauce in the oven and it was fine. Either way, my husband and I love the flavor of the rub and the braise with the BBQ sauce on top. Delicious! Thanks for a great and extremely easy recipe!

    • Oh awesome!! I’m so glad you liked them. And I made them in the oven for years before I ever had a grill (and will still cook them in the oven if I’m craving summer mid-winter) and they are great either way. That’s a really good tip about the slow cooker. I prefer my ribs with a little bit of “pull” off the bone, but you can achieve the fall-off-the-bone in the oven just by adding a bit more braising time.

      Happy rib-ing!!

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