Backyard Championship Ribs

Ingredients (6)

  • 3 slabs of St. Louis–style or baby back ribs, cut in half, membrane removed, and washed
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 cup Big-Time Barbecue Rub
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups apple juice, or more as needed
  • 2 cups Thick and Sticky Barbecue Sauce
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Backyard Championship Ribs

The original version of these ribs isn’t that hard to make, but not every backyarder has a smoker that will run all day at 275°F and have enough room to comfortably spread out three slabs of ribs. So this is a good substitute for using a kettle, a smaller smoker, or a gas grill. The only catch is that you’ll have to adjust the times and temperatures to your cooker. It may be a little tricky at first, but take notes and you’ll have it down perfectly after a few tries. The first couple of batches will be pretty good anyway.

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Tips for Pork and Ribs


  1. 1Prepare your cooker for indirect grilling at about 325°F, using cherry and hickory wood for flavor.
  2. 2In a bowl, stir together turbinado sugar and Big-Time Barbecue Rub, and spread it on the ribs (use about 2/3 on the meaty side and 1/3 on the bony side). Let rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
  3. 3Put ribs in the smoker, meaty side up (use a rib rack if necessary so that there is enough space). Cook ribs slowly until they are nicely caramelized, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on your equipment.
  4. 4Remove ribs and place on a platter or baking sheet; brush on both sides with the honey.
  5. 5To tenderize ribs, pour apple juice in the bottom of an aluminum foil roasting pan to a depth of about 1 inch and add the ribs, standing them on end in the pan if necessary to fit.
  6. 6Cover with aluminum foil, and put the pan on the grill over indirect heat at about 325°F until ribs are tender (this step can also be done in the oven). Test ribs by sticking them with a toothpick; they should be soft and tender. It should take about 1 hour, but this will vary depending on your equipment. If you have a hard time keeping your grill on low, check the apple juice frequently to make sure it doesn’t cook off; replenish as needed. At this point the ribs can be allowed to cool, wrapped separately, and reheated later. This is a great way to take ribs to a tailgate party or to prepare ahead for a party at home.
  7. 7When ready to serve, transfer the cooked ribs to a medium-hot grill. Brush with Thick and Sticky Barbecue Sauce and heat for just a few minutes, flipping several times, and brushing again with sauce, if you desire, until they are heated through and the sauce is caramelized. Cut into pieces and serve.

Beverage pairing: Rosenblum Aparicio Vineyard Zinfandel, Amador County, California. With barbecue you’ve got to go Zin, and you’ve got to go hard with a big one like this, from 25-year-old, dry-farmed vineyards and featuring a wealth of bramble, pepper, spice, and raspberry fruit.

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