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June 26, 2013

The secret to great barbecued ribs at home

(Continued)

When you prep your ribs for the grill, squeeze a lemon over both sides of the ribs to “refresh” them. That little bit of acid creates a brightness, a “clean canvas” for your seasoning, and helps the rub adhere to the meat.

Next, season liberally by holding your hand about a foot above the racks and sprinkling the dry rub over the ribs evenly, like you are “raining” rib rub over the racks. Do it no more than 15 minutes before cooking. I like to use a rib grilling rack because it positions the ribs so that the hot air and smoke from the closed grill rotate equally around all of the racks of ribs and you can cook twice as many than if they lay flat on the grates.

As for the actual cooking, true barbecue demands indirect heat. This is what allows the meat to cook slowly, melting the fat and connective tissue. Barbecue also calls for smoke, so be sure to soak wood chips in advance. You can look for two visual clues when making ribs at home: The meat should pull away from the ends of the bones, which should be dry and dark, and the ribs should bend easily without breaking if you gently fold them over.

That covers what you should do. Here’s what not to do.

First, don’t parboil your ribs. It isn’t necessary, and it will rob your ribs of flavor. Ribs should only take two to three hours to cook, and they should be cooked from start to finish on your outdoor grill. Second, if you are a barbecue sauce lover, only put the sauce on the ribs during the final 10 to 15 minutes of cooking. Otherwise, the sugar in the sauce will burn while the ribs are still undercooked.

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