Slow Grilled Ribs with Chris’* Great Rub

Yummy Ribs, photo by Rose Wall

Yummy Ribs, photo by Rose Wall

from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

On the grill or in the oven…delicious!  Bittman says, “You can make these faster and easier (see oven variation) but – at home at least – I don’t think you can make them any better.”

*Chris Schlesinger, author of the Thrill of the Grill.


Tablespoon salt

2 Tablespoons sugar (but maple syrup is better)

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

1 Tablespoon ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon chili powder

2 Tablespoon paprika

about 4 lbs spareribs

about 3 cups hickory, oak, or other hardwood chips (optional if using grill, but very nice)

Massage the rub into the ribs. If you have a gas grill, preheat by using the burner on only one side, on medium heat, for about 15 minutes. If you are using a charcoal or wood fire, bank it to one side of your grill and keep the fire as low as possible, starting with just enough fuel to get heat, about 15 briquettes or the equivalent in hardwood charcoal. Sprinkle a handful of wood chips onto the rack above the heat source, allowing them to fall directly onto the fire.

Place the ribs away from the heat source (over the unlit burner of a gas grill) and cover the grill. You want a very cool fire, less than 300 degrees if possible (you should be able to hold your hand right over the area on which the ribs are cooking with just a little discomfort). If you are using solid fuel, add a few lumps of charcoal or a few briquettes every hour, just enough to keep the fire going. Turn the ribs every 30 minutes or so, adding more wood chips as needed, and re-closing the grill cover.

Depending on the heat of your fire, after 2 to 6 hours the ribs will have lost much of their fat and developed an unquestionably cooked look. Just before you’re ready to eat, raise the heat to high (or add a bunch more briquettes and wait a while) and brown the ribs on both sides. Be very careful; they will likely still have enough fat on them to flare up and burn, ruining all your hard work in an instant (believe me, I’ve done it several times). Watch them constantly and move them frequently. Browning will take about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Oven Variation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Rub the ribs all over as above and place in a roasting pan in one layer.  Bake, pouring off accumulated fat every 30 minutes or so (we’ve never had that much accumulated fat) for about 2 hours, or until the ribs are cooked.  If you’re in a hurry, cover the roasting pan with foil.

When you are ready to eat, roast the ribs at 500 degrees for about 10 minutes or run them under the broiler, watching carefully, until nicely browned.