By Christie Vanover | Published May 25, 2013 | Last Updated March 13, 2023
I’ve been making (or attempting to make) ribs for years. I’ve tried boiling them, smoking them, baking them and just plain grilling them. They always turned out just okay.
Then in 2009 when I lived in Belgium, I finally came up with a technique that worked. My husband entered me into an Army rib cook-off against some burly Soldiers who appeared to be true pit masters.
I wanted ribs that were fall-off-the-bone juicy with charred, crispy fat. I read through every BBQ cookbook I had and scoured the Internet for techniques. I also did a lot more testing, which my husband enjoyed…he probably entered me into the contest just for the pre-testing.
Here’s all it takes:
1 – Strip ’em
Remove the silverskin. It’s a membrane that is chewy and leathery. No one wants leathery ribs.
2 – Love ’em
Give your ribs some love with a rub down of Zestuous rub (or your favorite rub), and bathe ‘em nice in some soy sauce and vinegar.
3 –Bake ’em
Take advantage of the pork fat and bone marrow. Putting the ribs in a pan and covering with foil, allows the meat to steam in its own juices and the flavorful rub.
4 – Grill ’em
At this point, the meat is already fall-off-the-bone, but you want to get that nice char on the fat for finger-licking ribs.
This recipe also includes a homemade Zestuous Sauce made from the pan juices It’s really easy, but you can use any sauce or grill ‘em naked. Your call. You can do steps 1-3 and make the sauce ahead of time, so when it’s time to party, the ribs are ready in 15 minutes.
I actually won the rib cook-off. Those apron-wearing, tong-yielding men had nothing on me. I was super excited, not just for the win, but because I had finally mastered ribs. Time to tackle a new challenge.
Ribs They’ll Love
- 1 slab pork ribs
- Zestuous Rub
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tsp. liquid smoke optional
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Hot sauce to taste optional
- Using a paper towel, grab the silverskin on the back of the ribs and pull off as much as you can.
- If you are using spare ribs, trim the ribs to separate the top portion of meat from the rib cage, and cut into serving-size portions (about 3 ribs per serving)
- Place the ribs into a 13×9 pan. Generously rub Zestuous rub all over the meat.
- In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke. Pour evenly over the ribs. Cover with foil and bake in a 300-degree oven for 3 hours.
- Remove the ribs from the pan and pour the juices into a fat separator.
- In a small pot, combine 1 cup of the juices with maple syrup, ketchup and mustard. If you like your sauce spicy, add hot sauce to taste. Reduce over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, until slightly thickened.
- When it’s time to eat, light up the grill to medium heat. Grill the ribs just long enough to get the fat on the ribs a little crispy. Baste with barbecue sauce as you grill. This should take no longer than 10-15 minutes.
- Serve with extra sauce. Enjoy you grill master, you!
The nutrition information is an estimate created using an online nutrition calculator