I know what you're thinking: "How is it possible to cook good ribs in just one hour?" Conventional barbecue wisdom has told us for years that the way to perfect ribs is by cooking them low and slow, sometimes up to six hours. When Meathead Goldwyn, the grillmaster behind AmazingRibs.com, first tried the ribs at the famous Dreamland, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, he changed his mind about this. While you'll probably need to carve out an extra hour for prep time and to get your fire hot, the ribs will be done in 60 minutes.
In his new book, Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling, Goldwyn talks about the virtues of these slightly chewier ribs, which are cooked briefly over direct heat. "Before the sauce is applied, there's some charring on the surface, and you can taste it," he writes, "It still tastes like pork, but there is a distinct overtone of a hot grilled steak, and it is a luscious surprise."
60-Minute Ribs Dreamland Style
Makes 2 servings.
- 1 rack spareribs or center-cut ribs
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup barbecue sauce
- Prep: Skin and trim the ribs if necessary. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper 1 to 3 hours before cooking. Press the seasoning into the meat so that it doesn’t fall off during cooking.
- Fire: Fire up a good bed of charcoal or embers 2 coals deep and wait until they are covered with white ash. Throw on some wood. If you have logs, use some that are about one third the size of a baseball bat. If you have chunks, 4 fist-size chunks should do the job. Chips or pellets will quickly burn, so I don’t recommend using them here.
- Cook: Put the meat on the grill and turn it every 5 to 10 minutes, watching to make sure it browns but does not burn. Add more wood every 30 minutes or so. After 1 hour or so, depending on your setup, it should start getting bronze in color. At this point, stop adding wood.
- When the slab passes the bend test (see below), leave the ribs on the grill for a little longer, meat-side down, until the fatty spots verge on blackening. If you’re not sure they’re ready, cut off a bone and taste. Paint a coating of sauce over the ribs, and you’re ready to roll with the tide.
The Bend Test: Pick up the slab with tongs in the center and bounce it gently. If the surface cracks, the ribs are ready.