Sylvester Hoover of Hoover’s Grocery tells me that the three-down spareribs cut is the best you can buy. The rack of ribs gets its name from the fact that the ribs, after trimming, weigh less than three pounds—only the very best of the cut is preserved.
Sylvester is adamant about seasoning the meat first with garlic powder, then with a generous sprinkling of seasoned salt. I asked if it really matters that much—he tells me to trust him. After 2 hours on the grill, the meat is bite-off-the bone-rich, and the taste of the salt and garlic is in perfect harmony. I’m a believer. The apples cooked on top of the ribs in the final minutes add just a hint of sweetness. Barbecue sauce can be served on the side—but the real pros know you don’t need sauce when the meat tastes this good.
Serves 8 to 10
Hands-on Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
- 3 (3-pound) racks of three-down spareribs, washed and patted dry
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 3 tablespoons seasoned salt, preferably Lawry’s brand
- 1 red apple, cored and thinly sliced
- Barbecue sauce, served warm on the side (optional)
Open the bottom vent of a charcoal grill completely. Light a charcoal chimney starter filled with charcoal. When the coals are covered with gray ash, pour them onto the bottom grate of the grill, and then push to one side of the grill. Adjust the vents as needed to maintain an internal temperature of 300 degrees to 350 degrees F. Coat the top grate with oil; place on the grill. (If using a gas grill, preheat to medium [300 degrees to 350 degrees F] on one side.)
Prep the ribs by removing the membrane from the bones: Using a small knife and starting at the point of the cut, cut underneath the membrane, but not into the bone. Using a paper towel, grab the loosened membrane and pull it away from the ribs. Continue in this manner until the membrane is removed.
Season both sides of the ribs with the garlic powder and then the seasoned salt.
Add the ribs to the grill, meat-side down, and cook over direct heat for 30 minutes. Flip the ribs bone-side down and continue to cook over direct heat for 30 minutes. Move the ribs to indirect heat and flip once again onto the meat side; cook for 30 minutes. Finish the ribs by flipping back to bone-side down, topping with the apple slices, and cooking over indirect heat for a final 10 minutes. The ribs should be tender and 1/4 inch or so of the bone should show on the sides of the ribs. Remove from the grill, tent with foil, and let rest for 30 minutes.
Slice the ribs and serve with sauce on the side, if desired.
Recipe excerpted from “Serial Griller: Grillmaster Secrets for Flame-Cooked Perfection,” copyright 2020 by Matt Moore. Photography copyright 2020 by Andrea Behrends and Helene Dujardin. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.