If this doesn’t inspire BBQ greatness at your Memorial Day cookout, I don’t know what will. Pictures of ribs on a fire have a guaranteed Pavlovian effect on me every time. The smell in real life is even more intoxicating.
A few Saturdays ago, M and his cousin, J, decided that they needed a “Man Day.” They do this sometimes. Sometimes it’s a drive to Cabela’s to window shop for hunting and camping stuff they never buy. Sometimes it’s building an outdoor gypsy camp in preparation for a theme party. I usually picture them having their own Home Movies McGuirk-style Crywalkers group out in the woods. Who knows what they do, and who cares? Seriously. A Man Day in the woods means a Woman Day in the house.
This time, they went up to J’s family’s cabin, built a fire pit out of bricks and a grill grate, and cooked delicious ribs. I almost always benefit from Man Day. I got to enjoy a half rack of ribs with a baked potato fairly fresh off the fire. An amazingly sweet and flavorful surprise dinner! M writes the recipe below, so it’s straight from the ginger horse’s mouth. Fire pit construction instructions available upon request.
Firepit BBQ Ribs
Kansas City Style Rib Rub
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup paprika
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon chilli powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Firepit BBQ Ribs
- 2 racks of ribs
- 1 cup Kansas City style rib rub, ingredients above
- BBQ Sauce of choice, home made or store bought is ok (in this case we used K.C. Masterpiece as it was handy)
- Charcoal, amount depends on the capacity of your grilling apparatus. In our case this was a brick pit we threw together so we used approx 9lbs of charcoal.
- Wood for smoke , e.g. hickory, maple, mesquite or like in our case, whatever is handy – tree wood?
- Combine rub ingredients in a small bowl.
- Trim rib racks of excess fat, hanging muscle tissue and the thin membrane that runs along the bone side of the rack. This can be a bit tricky at first, the best method I’ve seen is to use a butter knife to loosen it along the end of last bone then pull the rest of using one slow motion with your hand.
- Separate the racks in half with a thick knife and square up the racks as much as possible.
- Cover racks with rub mixture and work in with hands until heavily coated, there should be no gaps, and wrap in foil.
- Set aside in refrigerator or cooler with ice for at least an hour (several hours is preferred and some recommend over night but that can sometimes lead to the rub curing the meat and making it more ham-like).
- Start your charcoal in your preferred grilling apparatus.
- When charcoal has a coating of white ash, approx 20 minutes, push to one side of the grill area and place in wood chunks.
- Place ribs meat side down on side opposite the charcoal (this is called indirect grilling) and cover with lid or foil if no lid is available.
- Flip and rotate the ribs every 10 minutes until the meat begins to pull away from the bone. The time this takes will vary considerably depending on your grilling method. In our case, using a brick pit accomplished this in just about an hour.
- In the last 20 minutes of cooking begin to apply the BBQ sauce as a glaze. This is a judgement call and is not entirely necessary if you prefer your ribs sauce-less (the rub adds more than enough flavor on its its own).
- Remove ribs from the grill and let sit under foil for at least 15 minutes.