These ribs have a Pavlovian response with my husband, and let me tell you why.
The first time I made them was for the season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones, in April 2016. We were having our best friends over to watch the premiere and I wanted to make a very Westerosi dinner, which in my mind means a big ol’ hunk of meat you eat with your hands. I didn’t think Tomahawk steaks were the right answer but ribs, ribs I could get behind. What better “finger food” to eat while you watch people in furs sword-fight for world domination? It was just barbaric enough for Game of Thrones but also perfect for a summertime cookout with friends.
Every time I’ve made these ribs since then, Ryan has asked, “When does Game of Thrones come back?” Hence, the Pavlovian response. Needless to say, I made them for the season 7 premiere this year - while Skyping with our best friends. Also, it was raining - that’s how dedicated we are to these ribs.
With half of the seventh season already over, I wanted to post this recipe in time for any fans to make this for their viewing parties. And if you don’t watch, these ribs are great for the last summer cookout before school starts, or upcoming Labor Day weekend. Enjoy!
6-24 hours before you plan on cooking the ribs, begin with a dry rub. You will need ¼ cup brown sugar (dark or light), ½ tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp paprika, ½ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes, and ½ tsp each salt and pepper.
Pat the ribs dry with paper towels and lay on a large sheet of foil on a baking sheet.
Sprinkle half the dry rub on each side of the ribs and using your fingers, press it into every inch of the rack of ribs, making sure they are completely coated
Tightly wrap up the ribs in the foil. Use an extra sheet of foil if needed so the ribs are completely covered. Put the ribs in the fridge for 6-24 hours, until ready to cook.
About 2-3 hours before you’re ready to eat, preheat the oven to 300. Place the ribs, still tightly covered in foil on the baking sheet, in the oven for 2 hours. The name of the game here is low and slow, and keeping them wrapped in foil will trap any steam and keep them nice and juicy.
After 2 hours, let rest for 15 minutes while you preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Letting the ribs rest before throwing them on the grill will allow any juices to redistribute into the meat so the ribs don’t dry out on the grill.
Take your ribs out to the grill and make sure you have your essential tools: tongs and a brush for the sauce.
These are the pre-sauced ribs. That rub has already given the meat a nice color and tons of flavor, and you can see it has been steaming and cooking in it's own drippings to keep the meat nice and tender.
Brush one side of the ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce, then place (carefully - the ribs are already super tender) sauce-side down onto the grill. Close the lid and let a crust form for about 3-4 minutes. Brush the exposed side of the ribs with sauce, then flip. Close the lid again and let a crust form on that side for 3-4 minutes. If you notice too much char, turn the heat down on the grill to medium. Continue saucing and flipping one to two more times, then remove from the grill.
I like to let my ribs rest for another 10 minutes before I slice into them, partly to let juices distribute throughout the meat like before, and partly to let me finish any side dishes I’m working on.
Slice and go to town!
Some people do just a dry rub method, some people just use a sauce. Some people only cook in the oven and some only cook on the grill. I like my combination of all methods. The dry rub begins flavoring the meat way before it begins cooking, the foil and the low oven heat makes sure the ribs get tender and juicy, the sauce gives it that sweet stickiness and the grill provides that perfect smoky char. Trust me, you will make these year-round.
Here’s the recipe!
Food that maximizes flavor and minimizes effort and time.