Slow and Low Country Ribs

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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

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  • 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 and cover the pan). 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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Hank Shaw

A former restaurant cook and journalist, Hank Shaw is the author of three wild game cookbooks as well as the James Beard Award-winning wild foods website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. His latest cookbook is Buck, Buck, Moose, a guide to working with venison. He hunts, fishes, forages and cooks near Sacramento, CA.

More from Hank

Showing 4 of 42 Comments

  • Beth

    Does “line pan with foil and cover the pan” mean that I should completely cover the pan with foil, then set the ribs in the foil-covered pan, OR does it mean first cover the pan with foil, then place the ribs on the pan, THEN cover the ribs and pan with another layer of foil?

  • Michael

    They were great but dried out never made ribs before (first timer) followed the directions step by step. I made the mistake of not cover them since the directions didn’t call for it. Might want to revise the directions to include that for new cooks such as myself.

  • Marcus

    My country ribs turned out great using this recipe! When I’ve cooked them in the oven there seemed to always be something missing. Using this recipe, I cook my country style ribs over charcoal and also used a “smoke box” filled with hickory. I made my own sauce and boom! My country ribs ain’t missing anything now!!

  • Linda L.

    I have a question…Is there a way to start these in the oven and then finish them on a gas grill? What would you recommend if this can be done timing wise?

  • Jeremy

    Hi Hank, I have a question. I have 1 and a half to two pounds of boneless country rib. My question is: Do I cover them if using an oven, considering that they’re boneless , and should there be any time or temp adjustment for that reason as well ? Thanks

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