Middle Eastern Rubbed Ribs
This is not one of your typical barbecue recipes. This is a combination of old world spices and the new world high heat grilling technique. It’s more like medium heat at only around 300 degrees, but that doesn’t sound as good as high heat. Most barbecue recipes are slathered with a tomato, vinegar, or mustard based sauce and the sauce is the show instead of the meat. With this recipe, the meat is rubbed rather than sauced and thus the centerpiece of the flavor profile if the meat with the rub complimenting it. If you’re looking for more typical barbecue recipes, you can find them on this site, but this is not one of them. This is grilling outside the box.
Middle Eastern Rubbed Ribs Ingredients:
1 slab of baby back ribs
salt, black and white pepper to taste
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp granulated garlic
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp finely ground coffee (double grind it on the finest setting)
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp dried lemon (not pictured below)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Before grilling, prep the baby back ribs by removing the skin from the bone side and apply a coat of coarse salt, black and white pepper to this side first:
When grilling ribs, always do bone side first so the rub and seasoning does not stick to the cutting board. The concave of the bones will keep the meat and the rub off the cutting board and this negate a need to reapply to your baby back ribs.
Now combine all the ingredients for the rub:
If you spooned out the nutmeg I highly recommend buying whole nutmeg and shaving it off with a fine cheese grater or a microplane. The nutmeg never goes bad that way. It never gets stale. Here’s what a whole nutmeg looks like:
Simply run it over a cheese grater to get the 1/2 tsp needed for this recipe. The flavor difference is significant:
Here’s what the nutmeg looks like on the inside:
OK, foodie nerd moment over. Let’s get back to the Middle Eastern rubbed ribs.
Cover the bone side with the rub and flip the baby back ribs over and apply the salt, black and white pepper plus the rub to the meat side:
Let the rubbed ribs sit on the counter and come to room temperature as you fire up the grill, my Char-Griller Akorn kamado grill. Target temp is 275-325. With the Pitmaster IQ, maintaining those temps is ridiculously easy:
Basically, the Pitmaster IQ has a fan inside that’s attached to a hose that is connected to the bottom vent on my Char-Griller Akorn kamado grill. It’s also got a thermometer. When the temp gets below the desired level, the fan turns on stoking the fire. These things can run as much as $400, but this one is only $140, plus shipping and tax, and works like a champ. No more standing over the grill and tweaking vents. Just set it and forget it. Click here to buy one.
I threw in a chunk of oak and put the slab of rubbed baby backs on the upper rack of my Char-Griller Akorn:
At around 300 degrees, grilling these baby backs should only take about two hours. Here are the grilled ribs at the 1 hour mark:
The meat is pulling back from the bone nicely:
At 90 minutes the grilled ribs are looking delicious except that the rub looks a little dry on the outside:
The meat is pulling back well, but the rub looks a little dry because I laid it on thick:
This happens quite often with thick rubs like this. Here’s a trick to make sure the rub is not dry and gritty on heavily rubbed ribs:
At the two hour mark, I pulled the grilled ribs and brought them inside to rest:
If you’re curious as to what was on the lower racks of my grills, they were three half slabs of sauced ribs and a half slab of jerk:
The rub is nuanced with many levels of flavor from the earthiness of the turmeric and the coffee, to the sweetness of the brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, plus the savory of the oregano and celery seed, and a little citrus from the dried lemon to complete the fantastic flavor profile.
If you have any questions about the grilled ribs above please feel free to comment below or shoot me an email.
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- 1 slab of baby back ribs
- salt, black and white pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp granulated garlic
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp finely ground coffee (double grind it on the finest setting)
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp celery seed
- ½ tsp dried lemon (not pictured below)
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- Apple juice in a spray bottle
- Remove the skin from the bone side of the ribs
- Apply a coat of coarse salt, black and white pepper to the bone side first
- Set the ribs aside and make the rub
- Combine the rest of the ingredients (except for the apple juice) in a bowl and mix together with your fingers
- Cover the bone side with the rub and flip the baby back ribs over and apply the salt, black and white pepper plus the rub to the meat side
- Set up the grill for two zone/indirect grilling with coals and smoke wood on one side and nothing on the other
- Target temperature of the grill is 275-325
- Place the ribs, bone side down, on the side with no heat and close the lid
- After 60 minutes, give the ribs a quick spray of apple juice
- Continue to give a quick spray of the juice to the grilled ribs every 15 minutes until the meat has pulled back from the bones a half inch (about two hours total cook time)
- Remove from the heat, allow to rest for about five minutes, slice and serve