By Christie Vanover, Pitmaster, GirlsCanGrill.com
As Americans, when we think of ribs, we traditionally envision slow smoked baby backs or St. Louis Style ribs that have been smothered in barbecue sauce. While these are great, there is another way to cook ribs over live fire that honestly resulted in the best ribs I’ve ever had.
As a competitive pitmaster, I usually cook my ribs in an enclosed barbecue slow and low for several hours. After they develop a mahogany bark, I wrap them in foil with brown sugar, honey and lots of butter, until they are tender.
This method yields a delicious rib, but you kind of lose the experience of cooking, because you close the grill and forget about them for several hours.
When you cook ribs on a Breeo® fire pit however, the entire cook is an experience, and the results are down-right incredible.
Parrillada of Ribs
I learned about this cooking method from Francis Mallmann, the acclaimed Argentinian chef who many consider the father of modern day live-fire cooking. Through his cookbooks and television appearances, he demonstrates how to cook large pieces of meat over hot coals.
While you most commonly see his butterflied lambs or hanging chickens and pineapples, he has also showcased parrillada of pork. Parrillada is a Spanish word for barbecue and simply translates to cooking a variety of meats and/or vegetables on the grill.
With Parrillada, you can keep that American barbecue sauce in the pantry. This cooking method really allows you to pause and appreciate the protein.
I first prepared parrillada of ribs at a campsite in Utah. I loaded my Breeo X24 and Outpost™ Grill with hickory logs and let those burn down to coals.
While the grill was heating up, I removed the silver skin from the back of multiple racks of St. Louis Style pork ribs and seasoned them liberally. Authentic arrillada keeps things simple with coarse salt and black pepper. But since I have my own pork rub, I turned to that.
Next, cut each rack in half. This allows you to arrange more ribs on the Breeo.
With the Outpost grill grate, you’re able to cook the ribs over indirect heat, meaning the meat won’t be exposed to direct flames. Allow the wood to ash over and raise the grate a few inches, so the meat gets a steady mixture of heat and smoke.
You can even add a second Outpost grill, if you’re preparing a large feast. Just remember to rotate the racks of ribs for even cooking.
The entire cook is going to take 4-5 hours, so think about the sides you want to serve with your ribs. Larger starchier vegetables will take longer to cook, so vegetables like potatoes, beets and carrots can be added to the grill early in the process. More tender vegetables should be added in the last hour or so.
What to look for during the cooking process
These ribs are cooked entirely in an open fire setting. You’re never going to cover them or wrap them. Instead, you’re going to keep them juicy by flipping them and basting them every 30 minutes.
Prepare your basting ingredients by combining 1 cup dry white wine, 1 cup olive oil, the juice of1 lemon and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper. Double or triple the batch if you’re planning to cook several racks.
After the first 30 minutes, flip the ribs and give them a generous mop of the basting liquid.
At this stage, you can pull up a chair, grab a libation and enjoy the smokeless fire pit as you watch the ribs transition to a beautiful mahogany color. Just keep basting and flipping every 30 minutes.
Since I was cooking these ribs at a campsite, the bouquet of hickory and barbecue drew some curious onlookers. Fortunately, I added that second grate, so feeding a crowd was no problem.
You can even pass that basting brush and bowl around, so everyone feels part of the parrillada experience.
Throughout the cook, remember to keep an eye on your coals. As they start to burndown, you’ll need to add another log or two.
After about three hours, in addition to transitioning in color, you will notice the bark on the ribs will start to crack. This is a good sign. It means they’re getting close.
My rule of thumb for the best ribs is to cook them to an internal temperature of 205-210 F degrees. If you prefer ribs with a little bite, steer closer to the 205 F ranger. If you like them fall-off-the-bone, go a little longer.
In the end, these ribs were so incredibly juicy, but in entirely different way than I was used to. The crowd of camp-goers all agreed they were the best ribs they had ever had.
You Will Need:
2 racks St. Louis style ribs
2 tbsp BBQ rub
1 cup olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
Large pinch kosher salt
Large pinch coarse black pepper
Start a fire in your Breeo fire pit with 4-5 hickory logs.
Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. Cut each rack in half.
Rub both sides liberally with your favorite barbecue rub.
When the logs turn to coals, add the Outpost grill to the fire pit and place the ribs on the grate. Adjust the rack so the ribs are about a foot above the coals.
In a bowl, combine the olive oil, wine, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
After 30 minutes on the grill, flip the ribs over and baste with the olive oil mixture.
Continue flipping and basting every 30 minutes, until the ribs reach an internal temperature between 205-210F degrees.
The ribs should be ready in 4-5 hours. You may need to add more wood throughout the cook.