Slow and Low Country Ribs

When it comes to the grill or barbecue, I defer to my colleague Hank, especially when it concerns meat. Here he shows us how to cook pork country ribs, slow and low. ~Elise

Country ribs. Big slabs of porky goodness cut from the shoulder of the hog. Sold boneless or bone-in, these are nothing like a rack of ribs. They are pork logs, laced with fat, and require slow, low-temperature cooking to become delicious. That’s the downside: You can’t do a fast country rib. The upside is that they are all meat, so you only need one to fill you up. In fact, I slice them in half because a full rib, which can weigh a pound, can be too much for some people.

The best way to cook country ribs is over a wood fire, but you can cook them on a charcoal or gas grill, or even in the oven. Just repeat after me: Slow and low.. slow and low…

You’ll want to sauce these ribs with something. It can be as simple as cider vinegar, or you could use your favorite barbecue sauce. We chose to use a sweet and spicy Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce.

Slow and Low Country Ribs Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8.

Ingredients

  • 4 country ribs, about 3 pounds
  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • The barbecue sauce of your choice

Method

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1 Country ribs are usually more than a foot long. We recommend slicing them in half before cooking, as they'll be easier to handle. Coat the ribs in oil and then salt them well. Use a little more salt than you think you should, especially over the fatty parts of the ribs. Much of the fat will render away in cooking, leaving a crispy-salty-fatty bit you will be fighting over with your friends.

2 To cook the ribs, you have several choices. You can bake them in a 250°F oven (line a baking pan with foil first). You can slow-roast them in a gas grill (covered) with half the burners turned off (put them on the side that is not over direct flame). You can set up a large charcoal grill like a smoker and cook the country ribs on the cool side (again covered). But best of all would be to build a wood fire on one side of the grill and slowly barbecue these ribs over woodsmoke.

No matter what you do, let the ribs cook untouched for 90 minutes. At the 90-minute mark, turn them and paint them with your barbecue sauce – we like the sweet-spicy Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce for this, but you could also use a South Carolina mustard-based barbecue sauce, a Bourbon BBQ sauce, or a traditional Kansas City-style sauce.

3 Every 30 minutes or so, turn your ribs and paint them again with the sauce. How long to cook? Depends on how hot your fire is. At least 3 hours. Maybe as many as 5 hours. You really, really want to slow-cook these ribs because they are pretty fatty. The slower you cook them, the more fat renders out and the smoother your ribs will be. Take your time.

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4 When the meat begins to fall apart – you’ll notice this when you turn the rib – you’re ready for the final step. Paint the ribs one more time and then move them to the hot side of the grill. If you are using the oven method, move the ribs to the broiler. Let the ribs cook a minute or two so the sauce can caramelize. Pay attention, and do not let the ribs get too blackened. A little char is good, but you don’t want a briquette.

Serve with coleslaw, potato salad, deviled eggs or whatever you’d like. Oh, and napkins. Lots of napkins.

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28 Comments

  1. Susan

    These do make for some good eating! I agree with you, low and slow is the only way to cook BBQ style pork or most well done meats, really. We like to add garlic to pork along with the salt and pepper. We cook the meat on heavy foil that’s been pierced with holes to allow some dripage to make smoke, and sprayed with quick release spray. We move the meat to the grill racks for finishing. The foil keeps the flame ups from blackening the meat before the final basteing with the sauce for caramelization. That Dr. Pepper sauce sounds really good. Will give it a try next time we do some ribs. Thanks, Hank!

  2. chris

    dumb question: when you use the gas grill, do you close the lid?

    Yes. ~Hank

  3. Rhonda

    Sounds really delicious. Any guesstimate on how much time they would need in a 250-degree oven? Thanks!

    Check after 2 hours. It might need as many as 4 hours, though. ~Hank

  4. natashaskitchen.com

    I’m embarrased to admit I’ve never made ribs before. I’ve definitely had them at restaurants and friends homes but never made them myself. When I do muster up the guts to make them, I will check back with your recipe. Thanks!

  5. bertnlaura

    Hubby and I made these this afternoon with the Dr. Pepper sauce…what can I say? Unreal…I baked them in the oven at 250. I put them in at 12:30 on a foil lined sheet and did not look at them again until 2:30, at which time I started basting every thirty minutes. After about three hours, the meat started pulling away from the one rib that had a bone. After four hours they were tearing slightly when I turned and basted. At that point, hubby fired up a hot grill and he put them over adirect flame for one minute on each side. This made the sauce caramelize and gave beautiful grill marks. They could not have been more perfect! Thank you dor such a wonderful and easy rib recipe!!

  6. Dara

    Country ribs are one of my favorites because they’re so tender and they’re almost always on sale. The caramelization of this sauce is very enticing.

  7. foodess

    They would be delicious with a maple bourbon barbecue sauce!

  8. emily p

    In case anyone is lamenting their lack of a grill, like me, try using a slow cooker/crock pot. As Hank suggests, for the first several hours I just cooked the ribs seasoned with a chili rub (I did add about half a cup of liquid — I used Coke, which I found suggested somewhere on the Internet, but I don’t know why that would be better than, say, chicken broth or beer), then added the barbecue sauce for the last hour or so. A few minutes under the broiler to finish them up, and we had a fantastic dinner :) Not as delicious as cooking the ribs over a wood fire, but it was nice to be able to start them in the morning and then move on to work!

    PS I haven’t posted a comment before, but I LOVE this website! I know I can always trust recipes posted by Elise!

  9. Malinda

    Dr. Pepper ribs are my favorite. Your recipe is very similar to the one that I use. In addition saucing the ribs, I also marinate the ribs overnight in Dr. Pepper. Looking at the sauce recipe, it’s also very similar,except mine has no orange juice and there’s cinnamon added.

    Great recipe! Thanks for posting. The picture alone makes it look absolute delicious.

    BTW, I made Hank’s bbq sauce (posted a couple weeks ago) the other night. Hands down one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Everyone loved it.

  10. T Jones

    lol… I have to laugh at this, because I spent quite a bit of time this weekend looking for a good simple approach to cooking ribs and somehow I missed this and this site is usually my first stop for recipes/tips…

    Either way, Thanks for the info! I’ll be using this approach on my next batch.

    I was cooking goat ribs and used the marinade on this link. Came out great with a good amount of caramelization. It wasn’t as sweet as more storebought sauces, but still had very nice flavor :

    http://shecraves.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/03/goat-fest-2009.html

  11. Diane@Peaceful Acres

    OMIGosh, as soon as I turned to Hanks…..oh my! I immediately RRSd it and will go back…what lovely meat! Thanks for the link. I don’t know if this is the same “hanks” sauce I found on line this summer, but we loved it!!!

  12. Nate @ House of Annie

    We use country-style ribs to make char siu. Roasted is good, grilled is better, and barbecued is definitely best!

  13. APRIL MALLORY

    These ribs are wonderful & that Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce is excellent!! I made these over the weekend & both my husband & even my 3 year old thought they were great! I will be making these ribs again & again! Thanks so much for both recipes!

  14. Lisa

    I made this recipe today after showing the post to my husband. I did the oven version with our favorite sauce and they were fabulous. He can’t stop talking about them. They were falling apart when they came out of the oven. Ours had some bone and I left them in about 5 hours. Will definitely be making them again in the future. I plan on throwing some whole cloves of garlic in the pan with them next time to cook along with the meat. We’ll also try the Dr. Pepper sauce next time. Love the site, keep up the great work!

  15. Gracie

    I made these the other day in the oven, with my own sauce, baked for about 4-5 hours and they were FANTASTIC. Slow is the way to go. Even better the next day for leftovers.

  16. rose

    ok hank, i need some advice.
    i made these last night and although delicious, only one of the ribs really got tender. I noticed that the fat content was higher on that particular rib – would have have something to do with it?
    my question is, did i overcook or undercook the other ribs? they were yummy, and as it turns out, my fiance liked the slightly tougher ribs because they were less fatty, but since i know how they were supposed to turn out, i could tell something was up.
    would love your insight or tips! thanks!

    Definitely a fat content thing. The rendering fat moistens the meat, and also separates it into chunks connected by the fat. The all-meat ones lack that and so need a little longer to cook. Bottom line, give them a little more time and they should all be tender. Hope that helps! ~Hank

    • Bali

      Ok, so this is an old recipe and comment, but I’m in the middle of trying it now, and this response may be the most helpful thing I’ve run across about cooking “low’n’slow” yet! I always thought “oh no, it’s gone overcooked” because they’ve turned out … not particularly tender, when I just winged it- this is the first time I’ve seen the advice to actually cook it *longer*, not for *less* time… thanks for saving my meat! ~grin~

  17. Penelope

    Loved the ribs cooked low and slow. Will do this again for sure. We had less good fortune with the Dr Pepper bbq sauce. Had to go buy a bottle because it just smelled and tasted funky. Don’t know what happened – the ingredients were all fine standing alone, but together, it was one hot mess. Willing to try again sometime as it could have been user error.

  18. Jillian

    Kudos to you for making me look like a pro in the kitchen! I made these today with the Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce, and now my family is rolling around in misery from stuffing ourselves so full. I paired the ribs with your grilled corn on the cob…and oh my! It was the best corn on the cob we’ve EVER had! Thanks again!

  19. Kimberly

    Made these, they would have been great, but WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY TOO SALTY. It might be a good idea to give an actual measurement of salt of saying “…salt them well. Use a little more salt than you think you should…”

  20. Mary

    Hank, I plan to make these in the oven. Do I cover them with foil in the oven the whole time? Thanks, Mary

    • Adam

      The one question I needed answered too! :)

      • Elise

        I’m guessing that the best way to make these in the oven is to keep them covered with foil for the first part of the cooking, and then when you start basting them with sauce, take the foil off.

  21. Michelle

    I realize that the ribs should not be place directly over the heat of the gas grill, but what heat should it be turned up to? Low, Medium, or High? Thanks!

    • Elise

      Hi Michelle,
      It depends on your grill. You want to maintain a temperature of between 225°F and 250°F for slow cooking. I would warm up the grill first on high, then turn it to low, and make sure the ribs are not over the burner. Every grill is different, so you may need to experiment to see what works best for you.

  22. Dana

    I have a question . I just bought a charcoal grill and I been wanting to make ribs. I’m afraid I’ll mess them up though. You mentioned to slow cook them. What degrees should it be. I have a thermometer on my grill . How long do I cook them. Thank you

    • Elise

      I would say about 225°F.

    • Adam

      Don’t use the thermometer on the grill! They’re crazy inaccurate. Use a good digital probe thermometer and stick it through a ball of foil directly onto the grate to give you a good accurate reading. Those dial thermometers can be up to 50 degrees off.

      Check out this site for more grill tips, I found it a few years ago and its been my right hand man when grilling/smoking/etc. – amazingribs.com

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