Celebrating like our ancestors: Messy Ribs

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Picture it: A couple of broad shouldered men, protruding brow ridges, fur clothing and all, sit around an open fire in their cave. Another enters with the reward from the day’s hunt. They look at each other. They look at the fire. With a loud sizzle, the meat hits the flame. At that moment, BBQ as we know it, was born. And we think they ate some messy ribs!

Although we’ve fancied things up a little since then with our modern day technology and conveniences, throwing some meat on the heat is still a huge part of our lives. At Grillax, we’re pumped to celebrate every May as National BBQ month is celebrated.

Messy Ribs are so good, right?

Messy Ribs are so good, right?

With Memorial Day leading us into summer, which we all know is the season of the grill, we thought we’d share with you our absolute favorite, simple-as-can-be recipe for BBQ pork ribs.

We love to let the tender, smoked meat rest for a few hours, and after we eat a few straight off the bone,  we do a rough chop, smother it in our homemade, tangy BBQ sauce, toast up a bun, add a dollop of spicy cole slaw, and dig in.

Be prepared to get messy … remember, our caveman ancestors only had their hands, so go primal and leave the fork in the drawer.

Happy grilling!

Da messy ribs

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 full racks baby back pork ribs (about 5 to 6 pounds)

Da sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses (Brer Rabbit preferred)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  1. Place all of the ingredients except the ribs in a medium bowl and stir to combine; set aside.
  2. Pat the ribs dry with paper towels. Remove the thin membrane attached to the underside of the ribs by doing the following: Flip the ribs over so they’re bone-side up.Starting at the end of 1 rack, slide the tip of a paring knife between the membrane and the bone, then lift and cut through the membrane.Grasping the membrane with a paper towel, pull it toward the other end of the rack and completely remove it.Repeat with the second rack.
  3. Cut 1 rack in half crosswise and place the 2 pieces side by side on a sheet of foil. Repeat with the second rack and a second piece of foil.
  4. Evenly coat both sides of the ribs with the spice rub. Pull the foil up and over each set of ribs to create 2 completely enclosed packets. Place the packets side by side on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet tightly with the remaining 2 pieces of foil. (At this point, you can roast the ribs immediately, but for the best flavor and texture, refrigerate them for up to 24 hours.)
  5. Heat the grill to 225°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  6. Place the messy ribs on the grill and roast until toothpick-tender, about 2 hours. (Not ready to eat, yet!)

Do the sauce

Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer, whisking occasionally, until the flavors have melded and the sauce has reduced to about 2 cups, about 30 to 40 minutes.

A Final Sear (courtesy chow.com)

  • Heat a gas or charcoal grill to 375 degrees.
  • Remove the ribs from the foil, place them meaty-side up on the grill, and brush them with some of the sauce. Cover the grill and cook for 5 minutes. Flip and brush the ribs and cook another 5 minutes. Continue to cook, flipping and brushing every 5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the ribs are heated through and have grill marks, for a total grilling time of up to 20 minutes.
  • Transfer the messy ribs to a cutting board and cut the racks between the bones. Transfer the remaining barbecue sauce to a serving bowl and serve with the ribs.

Da slaw

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar, or freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chile, like jalapeño, Thai, serrano, or habanero, or to taste (optional)
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups cored and shredded Napa, Savoy, green, and/or red cabbage
  • 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced or shredded
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallion, more or less
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  1. To make the dressing, whisk together the mustard and vinegar in a small bowl, along with the garlic and chile. Add the oil a little at a time, whisking all the while.
  2. Combine the cabbage, bell pepper, and scallion and toss with the dressing. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve. (It’s best to let the slaw rest for an hour or so to allow the flavors to mellow; the cabbage will also soften a bit and exude some juice. You can let it sit longer, up to 24 hours, if you like. Drain the slaw before continuing.)
  3. Just before serving, toss with the parsley.

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