Barbecued Ribs…are there any two more beautiful words in the English language?
Pork Ribs have a long tradition in world of barbecue. Ranking as an equal with brisket and pulled-pork in modern competitions, they are considered a true art form.
Despite what the “Pros” would like to tell you, cooking pork ribs to perfection isn’t as difficult as you might think…
The secret to preparing tender, juicy, smoky spareribs is as easy as making sure they are cooked low and slow…low temperature cooking for extended periods is what helps break down the tough connective tissues. Couple with the generous application of a basting sauce, or “mop” to keep them moist, and you will become the Pitmaster of your neighborhood!
To this end, La Cajita China roaster might be the perfect method for creating moist, tender, and flavorful pork ribs, in less than half the time it would require in a smoker or pit.
Roast your ribs inside the box, using a rib rack, with a light apple smoke, baste with a simple mop (see recipe, below), and then finish them on the Cajita China grill for a rich, crispy shell over fall-apart pork.
In North Carolina’s early days, pork was commonly cooked over open fire and seasoned with an ordinary table condiment of vinegar, salt, red and black pepper, and oyster juice.
Salty vinegar with pepper (but no oyster juice) is, basically, the same sauce used on most North Carolina barbecue today. The western part of the state usually adds tomato paste or a ketchup based sauce, as in the recipe below, for a thicker sauce.
Classic side dishes for spareribs include coleslaw, ranch beans, and corn on the cob. Finish this off with a good ol’ southern banana pudding, or sweet potato pie, and you have a menu that will make you a legend!
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Side Dish Tip: That big bed of glowing coals is great for grilling some fresh corn on the cob. Soak the corn (in husks) in cold water to cover for about an hour. Shake off excess moisture and place directly on the coals.
Roast, turning frequently, for 30 – 45 minutes.
Carolina Pork Ribs
1 rack of pork spareribs
1/2 cup of your favorite barbecue rub
3 cups simple mop-sauce.
1. Prepare ribs by removing the membrane from the underside of the ribs. Trim off any loose fat or meat. Season ribs with rub, wrap in plastic wrap and let sit in refrigerator overnight.
2. Allow ribs to warm 1 hour. Place ribs on top of the Cajita rack, in the pan, bone side up. Place the rack inside the box, and close. Add 10 lbs. of charcoal and light.
3. Once lit, (30-40 minutes) spread the charcoal evenly over the charcoal grid. Cooking time starts right now.
4. After 1 hour open the box and place ash pan on top of the long handles. Now, flip the ribs bone side down, brush liberally with mop sauce, and re-tent with foil. A very simple mop-sauce can be made by combining equal parts cider vinegar, apple juice, and you favorite barbecue sauce. For the recipe above, combine about a 1 cup of each.
5. Replace the ash pan, and add another 5 lbs of charcoal. Cook for another 30-45 minutes until done (internal temp 145 degrees F.), peeking in at 10 minute intervals. Remove foil 5 minutes before removing ribs.
5. If you want to sauce the ribs, do so during that last 5 minutes, and watch carefully. If you have a grill rack for your ribs, you can sauce the ribs and finish them there, were it’s easier to keep an eye on them.
Personally, I prefer to just mop them, and then serve some warmed sauce along side, which I usually don’t use.
You can make up to 8 racks of pork ribs (or more, if you have an upright rib rack) in La Caja China model #1 or #2. Simply increase the amount of coals to 15lbs (start) and 10lbs every hour.
You can find step-by-step recipes in my cookbook, La Caja China Cooking, as well.