Richie's Grilled Baby Back Ribs

Making your own dry rub takes little effort and won't leave the unpleasant chemical aftertaste associated with many commercial versions. From the book "Mad Hungry," by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Artisan Books).

  • Servings: 4
Richie's Grilled Baby Back Ribs

Source: Mad Hungry, April 2011


  • 2 racks baby back ribs (4 pounds total) or pork spareribs
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (if available)
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons granulated brown sugar
  • 1 cup favorite barbecue sauce


  1. Sprinkle the ribs generously with salt and black pepper. In a small bowl, combine the sweet and smoked paprikas, sage, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, and brown sugar. Rub the mixture into the meat and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or refrigerated for up to 2 hours.

  2. Prepare a charcoal grill for indirect heat. (If oven-roasting, see below.)

  3. Place the ribs on the grill, on very low heat, 250 degrees or less. Remember, don't cook ribs over direct flames. Cover and almost close the vents. Every 20 minutes, turn the ribs around to cook evenly. They should be perfectly cooked within 1 1/2 to 2 hours; if using pork spareribs, cook an additional half an hour. Serve with barbecue sauce on the side.


To Oven-Roast Ribs: Add one tablespoon each of cocoa powder and instant coffee to the rub. Place rub-seasoned ribs on a baking sheet and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at 350 degrees. Increase the heat to 425 degrees, brush over barbecue sauce, and cook for 15 more minutes until caramelized.


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