Slow and Low Country Ribs

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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 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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Showing 4 of 34 Comments

  • 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

  • Kwally

    I followed the cooking suggestions that I’ve read from the recipe as well as the comments. I must say that my ribs turned out wonderful!!! I made two batches… One in the traditional Chinese Char Siu style and the other using Tony Roma’s Honey BBQ sauce. I let my ribs marinate in the sauces for a few days (unseasoned…. my rationale is there is a lot of seasoning and flavoring in the sauces…so why add more salt/sodium or sugar??)

    I was worried about over cooking the ribs (as I have done in previous attempts… with high heat settings….) However, tonight… I actually started off with my oven set to 200F. I used foil pans (easy to cleanup…just toss after use) and covered with foil paper. I followed the 90-minute suggestion however at 60-minutes (1hr) I checked the oven and it was as if it was just warm… so I turned the heat up to 250 and cooked it the rest of the time on that setting. I finished the last 30-minutes to hit the 90-minute mark… I then turned the ribs and dipped each one back into the sauce and put them back into the pan… I recovered the pans and put them back into the oven and let it roast in intervals of 40-minutes instead of 30…. Starting at 1130am, I let the ribs cook for 90-minutes, I continuously turned the ribs at 40-minute intervals basting every other turn until about 4:30pm…. approximately 5 hours. At 4:30 I opened the ribs and decided they had roasted enough. I used a new pan for the ribs this time to broil them as to get a nice char (hence the name “Char” siu)….. I did that turning every 4-5minutes to char all sides…

    I broke off a piece… the ribs just tore apart easily and the fat…. oh my goodness… they fat… melted in my mouth. Overall, the I think I could have stopped baking at 3:30-4:00pm (4-4.5hrs) and the meat would have been just perfect.

  • Linda Barner

    OK so I don’t often make ribs because pork has changed and become drier tasting to me. BUT I do love country style ribs. I have made these type of ribs this way but my questions is this: does everyone here really cook their ribs on 250 F?
    It seems this could take anywhere from 3-6 or longer hours? I just don’t see anyone doing this.

    I do hope I am wrong though and I am cooking mine in the oven right now. I did initailly have my ribs set at 300 F but reduced the heat to 250 F after reading your comments. I hope this does not take 4-6 hours to make.

    So I also brined my ribs overnight and hope this will add the extra sweetness I am looking for from supermarket ribs. Comments appreciated on how long this should take to cook cause so far I have anywhere from 90 minutes to 6 hours. Wow…….

  • Eugenia

    I made this recipe last night! WOW. I baked mine in the oven since it’s a bit cold here at the moment (January 2015). L O V E D this recipe and will consider making it again! Thanks Elsie!

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