This recipe is all about the sauce. You can cook your ribs any way you like, but I suggest grilling – if you have a charcoal or gas grill. Otherwise, ribs can be cooked in the oven.
Low and slow is the key. Low heat, for a long time, until the ribs are as tender as you like them. Some people like their ribs to fall off the bone, while others prefer a little more chew to them.
A simple rub of salt, garlic powder and paprika at the beginning of cooking time is enough to flavor the ribs before you begin cooking. Then the sauce is applied about 10 minutes before the ribs are done. The cooking time in between is mostly unattended – just the occasional peek to see how the ribs are cooking, and if you’re using a charcoal grill a check on the coals to make sure they’re still hot. On a gas or charcoal grill you might want to rearrange the ribs during cooking time to make sure they’re cooking evenly.
If you can’t find chipotle powder, you can use chili powder or any ground dried chile that you like. Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapenos, so they add some smokiness to the sauce.
This sauce recipe is just enough to coat one rack of ribs, so if you want more to pass at the table, make extra.
1 rack babyback ribs
1-2 teaspoons garlic salt (or a mix of garlic powder and salt, to taste)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (or chili powder)
1/4 teaspoon allspice
I like to cut the rack in half or into thirds for easier arrangement on the grill and easier handling. If you prefer to leave them whole, that’s fine too.
Sprinkle the ribs with the garlic salt (or garlic powder and salt) and the paprika, and rub it into the meat. This should be enough to coat the ribs lightly. Set the meat aside while you prepare your grill with the fire on the sides of the grill and an empty spot in the center.
When the fire is ready (or your gas grill is cleaned, lit, and preheated) place the ribs on the grill, bone-side down. If you have a rib rack you can use that, but it’s not necessary. Cover the grill and let the ribs cook until they are as tender as you like.
Cooking time will vary depending on how meaty those ribs are and how hot your grill is, but assume that it will be at least an hour, and much longer if the ribs are meaty, your temperature is low, and you want to cook them until the meat falls from the bone. With meaty ribs and really low cooking temperature, 3-4 hours is possible.
While you can crank up the heat and cook the ribs much faster, the low, slow cooking will give you tender, juicy ribs rather than jerky between bones.
When it’s convenient, mix all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside until needed.
Ten minutes before the ribs are ready to come off the grill brush the sauce over the ribs, coating them evenly. Use all the sauce. Close the grill and let them cook for the final 10 minutes.
Remove the ribs from the grill and let them rest at least 5 minutes before you cut into them.