I love the crisp, almost bacon-like flavor I get from rotisserie baby back ribs. I also love barbecued ribs, cooked low and slow, and glazed with barbecue sauce. I wanted to combine the two, but I had to be careful. Part of what makes barbecued ribs taste so good is sugar.
Sugar is a key ingredeint in both barbecue rubs and barbecue sauce, and it burns easily. I had to be careful with the high heat of the rotisserie. I want ribs that are sweet and glazed, not bitter and burned.
The rotisserie itself helps with this – the constant turning keeps the sugar from being exposed to direct heat, except in short blasts. To be on the safe side, I also cut back on the heat – I cooked the ribs at medium high insead of my usual high heat. I held back the sweet barbecue sauce until the very end, brushing it on the ribs for the last ten minutes of cooking. That way, the heat of the grill would turn the sauce into a glaze on the ribs, but it wouldn’t have enough time to start burning.
These tricks worked. I now have ribs with a crisp crust from the rotisserie, covered with layer of sweet, glazed barbecue sauce. Ahhh…pork heaven.
- Grill with Rotisserie attachment (I used a Weber kettle with the Rotisserie attachment; the kettle is here and the rotisserie attachment is here)
- Aluminum foil drip pan (9″x11″, or whatever fits your grill)
- 1 fist-sized chunk smoking wood (preferably hickory)
- 1 slab baby back ribs
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp barbecue rub (My BBQ rub recipe is here, or use your favorite)
- 1 cup barbecue sauce (My BBQ sauce recipe is here, or use your favorite)
1. Prep the ribs: Remove the membrane on the bone side of the rib. Loosen it by running a butter knife between the membrane and one of the bones on the end of the rib, then pull it off. Sprinkle each side of the rack with 1 tsp kosher salt and 1 tsp of barbecue rub. Let rest at least one hour, and up to 48 hours (keep in the refrigerator if resting for over a couple of hours). Also, at least one hour before cooking, put the wood chunk in water to soak.
2. Skewer the ribs: Every three bones, poke a hole in the middle of the meat (between the bones) with a paring knife. Then, weave the ribs onto the skewer through the holes.
|Ribs woven onto the skewer.|
3. Prepare the grill: Prepare your rotisserie for cooking on indirect medium heat (see details here) and add the wood chunk to the coals. (Indirect Medium heat should be 325*F to 350*F). For my Weber kettle, I light a chimney starter* three quarters full of charcoal, wait for it to be covered with ash, then pour it in two equal piles on the sides of the grill. I put the drip pan in the middle of the charcoal grate, between the piles of coals. Finally, I put the wood chunk on one of the piles.
*I highly recommend the Weber Chimney Starter, because it is larger than most chimney starters. It holds 5 quarts of charcoal, which exactly the right size for cooking this recipe.
|Ready to cook – note that I had to use two chunks of
wood to get my “fist sized” piece.
4. Cook the ribs: Put the skewer of ribs on the rotisserie, and start it spinning. Cook with the lid closed for 1 hr 15 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes. (I had very meaty ribs, and I had to cook them for 1 hour and 45 minutes this time). After one hour of cooking, add 16 unlit coals to the grill, 8 to each pile of coals, to keep the temperature going for the second hour of cooking. The ribs are done when they are nicely browned, and the meat has pulled back from the bones on the end by about 1/2″.
|The ribs are ready for glazing|
5. Glaze the ribs: Brush the ribs with the barbecue sauce, and then cook, covered, for another ten minutes to glaze the ribs.
|Brushing on the sauce|
6. Serve: Remove the ribs from the spit and let rest for 15 minutes. Cut the ribs into serving size portions and serve, passing extra barbecue sauce at the table.
*Honey glazed ribs: Instead of the barbecue sauce, make a glaze of 1/2 cup honey and 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, mixed together.
*Don’t have a rotisserie? Set your grill up for cooking on indirect medium-high heat, with a drip pan in the middle, just like I show above. Then put the ribs on the grate, and flip them every half hour or so until they are cooked through. Other than that, it’s the same recipe!
*You can cook 1 or 2 slabs of ribs at a time, depending on the size of your rotisserie skewer. On my kettle, I can just squeeze two slabs onto the skewer; on my big Weber Summit, I can fit three easily.
*The weaving is the hard part; the thicker your skewer, the harder it is to fit it between the bones. But, really, it’s not THAT hard, and the results are worth it. Give it a try!
*Oh, and don’t do what I did this time – I forgot to put the first fork on my spit before I wove the ribs on, and I had to take them back off to get it on there.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Click here for my basic Rotisserie Baby Back Ribs recipe
Click here for my Rotisserie Beef Ribs recipe
Click here for my Rotisserie Spare Ribs with Dry Rub recipe.
Click here for my other rotisserie recipes.
Steven Raichlen: How To Grill
|Check out my cookbook, Rotisserie Grilling.
Everything you could ask about the rotisserie,
It’s a Kindle e-book, so you can download it and start reading immediately!
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