First-Timer's Ribs

First-Timer's Ribs
Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn
  • Yield: 4 servings


3tablespoons unsalted butter
1cup apple cider
3tablespoons bourbon, or 3 more tablespoons apple cider
3tablespoons soy sauce
2tablespoons kosher salt
2tablespoons brown sugar
2tablespoons paprika
1tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
2teaspoons dry mustard
2teaspoons garlic powder
1/2teaspoon celery seed
2 racks baby back pork ribs (4 to 5 pounds total)
Barbecue sauce, choose your favorite
1 1/2cups wood chips, soaked 1 hour in water to cover


  1. To prepare the mop sauce, melt butter in a saucepan; stir in remaining ingredients and keep warm.
  2. Combine all rub ingredients, except ribs and barbecue sauce, in a bowl. Remove papery membrane from back of ribs. Set aside 1 tablespoon rub mixture; rub remaining mixture over ribs. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. Set up grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium (325F to 350F). Brush and oil grill grate. Place ribs, bone sides down, in center of grate away from heat. If using charcoal, toss chips on coals. Cover and cook 45 minutes. Mop with mop sauce; cover and cook 45 minutes to 1 hour, mopping every 15 minutes, or until meat shrinks from ends of bones about 1/4-inch. Brush ribs with barbecue sauce, place directly over fire and grill until sauce is browned and bubbling, 1 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from grill, let rest a few minutes, and cut in half or individual ribs. Serve with barbecue sauce and remaining rub.

Adapted, with permission, from Raichlen on Ribs, Outrageous Ribs (Workman, 2006).