Featured Cut: Baby Back Ribs

Summer has finally arrived, and our butchers have prepared a special cut for our Kettle Club shares that include pork—baby back ribs.

What are baby back ribs?

Pork ribs can go by many names depending on the region from which they are cut. Baby backs, named for their short length and tenderness when compared to spare ribs, are cut from the back of the pig. They are connected to the backbone and nestled beneath the loin muscle (think pork chops). Because of their size in comparison to spare ribs (cut from the belly section of the pig) they cook a bit faster, making them a fantastic rib for grilling.

Tips for grilling baby backs

We know that grill can be intimidating at times. Not to worry, we’ve got a fail-proof recipe and a few tips that will make you a rib grilling master.

The key to juicy and tender baby backs is to maintain a consistent temperature while grilling over indirect heat. This is usually around 300-325°F  for gas and charcoal grills.

Use a rub to add flavor and texture to the ribs. Here’s an easy dry rub recipe that we love:

Baby Back Ribs Dry Rub

1/4 cup paprika
1.5 tablespoon (packed down) brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne (more if you want a kick!)
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix your dry rub ingredients in a bowl. Sprinkle rub on ribs generously and rub into every nook and cranny you can find. Cover ribs tightly in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least one hour.

Fire up the Grill

As mentioned, it’s best to grill baby backs using indirect heat with a grill temperature of around 300-325 °F Once your grill is ready to go, unwrap your ribs and place them face up on the coolest part of your grill. Close the lid and kick back for a while! Your job for the next 2 hours is to ensure your grill isn’t exceeding a temperature of 325°F  adjusting as needed.

After an hour, begin monitoring the internal temperature of the ribs using a meat thermometer. 180-190°F  is the sweet spot for baby backs. This is a little higher than what we recommend for cooking other cuts of pork. Why you ask? Ribs are “done” when they are 145°F internal temp, but they may still be tough. If you take them up to 190 to 203°F, the collagens and fats melt and make the meat more tender and juicy. When your ribs come up to temperature, brush with your favorite BBQ sauce on both sides.  Kettle Range has some fantastic BBQ sauces for sale in the shop, and we’ve taste tested them all. Just ask your friendly store clerk for some flavor profiles.

Be sure to rest your ribs for at least five minutes before serving. This will allow the meat to absorb the juices for tenderness and more intense flavor. Enjoy!