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Sunday Food: Barbequed Ribs

Barbequed ribs

(Picture courtesy of Calgary Reviews at

Maybe you guessed, this is in time for Memorial Day, and if you haven’t had ribs, this may be a good time.   For barbequing, there are lots of special recipes, but I like the excellent sauces that come already made, and have no problems in using what the store offers.

What works best for backyard barbeque is the baby back ribs in the pork section from your grocer’s meat department.   Get enough so everyone will have four to six ribs, more for big eaters.   Have several kinds of sauce on the table, but use a mild on for preparation.

….precook your ribs to speed up the process or to increase the tenderness of the ribs. Ribs cooked on a barbecue smoker at a low temperature for several hours will be very tender. Ribs cooked on a grill, especially a gas grill, will not be as tender even cooked indirectly. To make your ribs tenderer you can precook by either boiling the ribs for about 30 minutes or by placing them in a slow cooker. This will get the ribs going and not dried out. Once you are ready to grill then you can season the ribs and cook them indirectly until done. The disadvantage of this is that the ribs will not absorb the flavor of the smoke very well and you can literally boil out the flavor of the meat. Remember, if you boil, slow cook, or oven roast ribs it must be at a low temperature, around 200 to 225 degrees F.

Now when it comes to seasoning ribs you want to be very conservative. Good ribs have a great flavor all to themselves. It is also important to avoid adding barbecue sauce to ribs early in the process. Most barbecue sauces, whether store bought or homemade, contain some kind of sugar (tomatoes contain sugar). This can cause your barbecue ribs to burn, even cooked indirectly. I suggest using a good rub before you grill and maybe a barbecue sauce after the grilling is done. However if you want to use a sauce, try using a mop. A mop is a thin barbecue sauce (mainly vinegar or water) that you brush on during grilling to help maintain moisture and to add flavor. Sometimes you will hear it referred to as a baste.

So remember, keep the temperature low. A good grilling temperature for barbecue ribs is about 225 degrees F. Also keep a close eye on your ribs. Once the surface of the meat starts to burn there’s no going back. Another good tip is to fill a spray bottle with a thin barbecue sauce. By thin I mean practically water. I use a mixture of paprika, water and a few other seasonings. By spraying the ribs with this mixture during grilling you will add moisture, reduce burning and add flavor to your barbecue ribs.

For my taste, spicy is best, but have something mild like honey mustard barbeque for the more squeamish eater.

To go with this, for some reason in Texas the restaurants serve plain white bread.   Also sliced onions, pickled green tomatoes, and big dill pickles.   All good.

For accompaniment, some kind of baked beans are usually around.    To fill out the menu, I always want some potato salad as well.

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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.