How to Make Fall Off the Bone Ribs is part two in my series partnering with Kraft Barbecue Sauce to help launch their revamped barbecue sauce line that uses cane sugar rather than that high fructose stuff. It also has sweet molasses and cider vinegar. In other words, high quality ingredients.
In an effort to promote the new barbecue sauce line, Kraft Barbecue Sauce coined the term Evergrillers. What are Evergrillers? People who, in late January, with temperatures hovering around freezing for days and haven’t seen the sun in weeks, think it’s a perfect time to bust out the grill. The first post in this series has a sweetheart giveaway as well as some tips to help with inclement weather grilling.
For the second post in the Evergriller series, we’re talking about something very polarizing in the world of barbecue – fall off the bone ribs. Most hardcore grillers and competition folks would never cook ribs that done. They call them overdone and might even say, “Why not just get some pork butts and make pulled pork and save some money.” And while technically fall off the bone ribs are over done, the majority of Americans prefer their ribs this way. Don’t believe me? Most places that serve ribs serve them fall off the bone. Let’s face it. I happen to be in the non fall off the bone ribs camp which is why we’ve never done them here on the site, but that is silly. If the worst thing that happened to me in a day was I ate fall off the bone ribs, that would be a pretty fine day. Just because some prefer one over another doesn’t mean the other is terrible. It’s personal preference. And making fall off the bone ribs is so simple. All you need to do is overcook them a bit without drying them out. Simple right?
Whether you use baby backs or spares, the ribs must be skinned. For this I used a couple slabs of baby backs:
Skinning the ribs means pealing back the membrane off the bone side. Leaving the membrane will make each bite tough. To skin ribs, a paper towel is your friend because the membrane is slippery. Use the tine of a fork, the blade of a butter knife or even a chopstick to get under the edge of the membrane and then grab it with the paper towel. Make sure you have a good grip and pull the membrane back toward the other end of the slab:
Pro tip ~ Some slabs just won’t give up their membrane. If that’s the case, take a sharp knife and score the bejeebers out of the membrane along the back of the bones. Score it in every direction possible – up, down, left to right, upper left to lower right, vice versa. It will still be tougher than skinned ribs, but it will make them better than leaving the membrane intact.
Next up, get those ribs into a brine. No, brining is not just for turkey and chicken. I dare you to do a slab by slab taste test with one brined against one that isn’t. I did, and the only times I don’t brine ribs is when I forget to get the brine ingredients which isn’t very often.
My basic brine is apple cider, salt, garlic and black pepper. The ratio is one gallon of liquid to one cup of salt. So if only a quart of liquid is needed, then only use a quarter cup of salt. Other brine liquids that can be used are any kind of non citrus fruit juice, coffee, sprite, root beer, or whatever liquid you would like infused into the meat. Get creative. I’ve brined in pomegranate, root beer, coffee, sprite, but my go to is apple cider or apple juice if I can’t find cider.
Soak the ribs in the brine for 4 to 12 hours.
The next day, remove the ribs from the brine, blot off the liquid with paper towels and coat the ribs with your favorite rub. No salt needed. The brine took care of that:
Pro tip part deux ~ ALWAYS apply a rub to the bone side first. That way, when flipped over to rub the meat side, the natural concave of the bones will keep the rub off the cutting board. If the rub touches the cutting board, it will stay on the cutting board which saves from having to reapply the rub down the middle of the meat side of the ribs:
Prepare the grill for two zone or indirect grilling which means coals and smoke wood on one side and the meat on the other. In this case, I’m using my handy dandy kamado grill, so I put the plate setter down above the fire to deflect the heat around the ribs. Target temperature inside the grill is a robust 300.
For most, the target temperature of the grill is 200-225 and smoke times are six hours or more. That’s all well and good, but I don’t have that kind of time. I want my fall off the bone ribs done in less than 4 hours. Fall off the bone aficionado’s are going to scoff at that. Scoff all you may, but I will show every step of the way. Hey, that rhymes!
Place the ribs on the side with no heat or on this case above the plate setter:
Add some smoke wood to the fire and close the lid. For this cook I used pear and cherry. Although any fruit wood would work like apple, peach, apricot or hardwoods like hickory or oak.
Seeing the ice on the thermometer above gives you an idea of how cold it was when I grilled these ribs. It was so cold my grill was frozen shut and it took me more than an hour to get it open:
Anyone that spends an hour to get a frozen grill open indeed qualifies as an Evergriller! I grill so often in the winter, I almost do it more often than in the summer.
Here are the ribs at the 45 minute mark:
At an hour and 15 minutes, I’m still getting great smoke:
After about 2 hours for baby backs (2.5 hours for the bigger spare ribs), it’s time to get those ribs off the grill. For this I used my handy dandy innovation from Kraft Barbecue Sauce. The Evergriller Grill ‘N’ Flip mitt has an opening at the end and a pouch in there that allows me to stuff the handle of just about any barbecue tool in there but the cloth pouch shields my hand from the cold. It would also shield my hand from a raging hot fire in my kamado so this beauty will be used all year round by this Evergriller:
You can win the Evergriller Grill ‘N’ Flip mitt as part of the giveaway of a year’s supply of Kraft Barbecue Sauce by going to my post with my top winter grilling tips.
Time to bust out the Texas crutch. You don’t have any crutches lying around, particularly from Texas? I bet you do. The Texas crutch is nothing more than aluminum foil. Tear off a couple big sheets and place the ribs on top, meat side down so the bones don’t poke holes in the foil:
Now add some fluid. The liquid could be beer, wine, butter, honey or even syrup, but in this case, I’m going to use Kraft Barbecue Sauce. Make sure to get in in between the slabs and underneath:
Close up the aluminum foil and put the foil pack back on the grill so that the ribs can now steam in their own juices and that delectable barbecue sauce:
By placing the ribs inside the foil with a little fluid, it allows for the hyper acceleration of the break down of connective tissues which is the technical term for making the ribs tender. And the process is really quick based on smoker time. For baby back ribs, an hour to an hour and 15 minutes (hour and 15 to hour and a half for spare ribs).
By the way, to get an idea as to how cold it was when I grilled that day, not only was the grill frozen shut but here were the weather conditions as I put the foiled ribs back on the grill:
While it was 21 degrees with light snow, the windchill was a balmy 6. That’s a single digit there!
After an hour in the foil in my 300 degree grill, you can see the steam action when I open up the foil:
Time to get a good glaze of that Kraft Barbecue Sauce. Remove the ribs from the foil and place the slabs back on the grill, slathering with that glorious sauce:
Close the lid for about 15 more minutes. Repeat the saucing process one more time before taking them inside to carve. Be careful to get a good grip in the middle as the slab could break apart from its own weight because the ribs are so tender.
How do I know how tender they are? Just by looking at the bones and how much the meat has pulled back from them:
Once the meat has pulled back more than a half inch, we are getting into fall off the bone territory. These had some massive pull back.
So there you have fall off the bone ribs in under 4 hours. In fact, the exact cook time was 3 hours and 35 minutes. Basically the whole key is to over cook the ribs without drying them out. The foil keeps all the fluid confined around the ribs and thus they do not dry out.
Visit www.KraftRecipes.com/BBQ and Facebook.com/KraftDressing to learn more about Kraft Barbecue Sauce, find delicious barbecue recipes and more.
Full disclosure, I received compensation and product samples from Kraft Barbecue Sauce for this post, but as you know, I wouldn’t back anything I didn’t absolutely believe in. The opinions expressed above and the recipe are my own and I stand by them. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email. Here’s my email address.
For a recipe card and a shorter step by step, check below:
- Two slabs of baby back ribs
- 1 quart apple cider
- ¼ cup salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Barbecue rub
- Kraft Barbecue Sauce
- Skin the membrane off the backs of the ribs
- Place in a resealable plastic bag with the cider, salt, garlic and pepper
- Slosh around until the salt is dissolved
- Place in the fridge for 2-12 hours
- After brining, remove from the liquid and blot dry with a paper towel
- Rub the ribs bone side first and then flip and repeat on the meat side
- Prepare the grill for two zone grilling and toss in some smoke wood
- Put the ribs, bone side down on the cool side of the grill and close the lid
- After 2 hours, remove the ribs from the grill and place them, meat side down on a double layer of aluminum foil and pour in some Kraft Barbecue Sauce on top and bottom of both slabs (stacking them on top of each other)
- Close up the foil and place back on the grill on the cool side
- After an hour, remove the ribs from the foil, place bone side down and slather with more sauce, spreading with a sauce brush
- Close the lid for 15 minutes and then repeat the saucing process one more time
- Remove from the grill, slice and serve