5 essential steps to make ribs so tender you won’t need a knife to cut them

Juicy, restaurant-style ribs may seem impossible to make at home. But with a few tricks and ample time, you can make delicious, succulent ribs that would give even the best barbecue joint a run for its money.

5 essential steps to make ribs so tender you won’t need a knife to cut them

1. Pick the right kind of ribs

You have two options when choosing ribs: baby backs and spare ribs.

  • Baby backs are cut near the backbone — the same region pork chops come from — and tend to be smaller, tender and more expensive.
  • Spareribs are cut from the belly and are usually fatty, meaty and full of flavor. Barbecue enthusiasts swear by the St. Louis-style cut, which are spareribs without the chewy ends.

For best results, choose St. Louis-style spareribs. Although baby backs are tender, spareribs pack in the fat and collagen necessary for juicy, melt-off-the-bone ribs.

2. Be generous with the rub

Unlike a prime cut of steak, you need to season your ribs generously with a strong rub to extract the meat’s full flavor.

You can either buy pre-made dry rubs or make your own. If you choose the latter option, make sure that the rub balances sweet, savoury and spicy flavours. At the very least, it should include the following:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Brown sugar

You can also add any of these spices to the mix:

  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Chili powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cumin

Follow these steps for the best results:

  • Apply a thick coat of the rub on the ribs
  • Wrap the ribs in foil
  • Refrigerate the ribs overnight

3. Bake the ribs for at least four hours

The secret to tender ribs is to bake them in the oven on low heat for a minimum of four hours.

  • Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and place them in a baking dish
  • Bake them in the oven for three to four hours at 120 degrees Celsius
  • If you have time to spare, lower the heat to around 100 degrees Celsius and bake the ribs for seven to nine hours.

The low heat will tenderize the meat completely and let all the flavours soak through the bones.

4. Finish by grilling the ribs over indirect heat

  • Remove the ribs from the oven and fire up the grillUse apple wood chips soaked in water in the grill for added flavour
  • Place the ribs over indirect heat (direct heat will cause the meat to dry up)
  • Grill them until you see the brown sugar caramelize
  • Use a brush to coat the ribs in the barbecue sauce of your choice
  • Grill for a few more minutes until the sauce forms a glaze

5. Cool down before serving

It’s best not to serve the ribs directly off the grill. Instead, wait for them to cool down for a few minutes before enjoying them alongside your favourite sides. For an authentic American South experience, try deviled eggs, bacon potato salad and coleslaw.

There you have it — juicy, succulent ribs served with complementary sides that will be the star at any dinner table!


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