Just One More… Rib

Simple Barbecued Pork Ribs

  • Servings: About 4-5 ribs per person
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For when you also happen to be playing Sid Meier’s Civilization V at the same time.


  • 2 racks of St. Louis pork ribs
  • 4/3 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • 8/3 teaspoons of fresh ground pepper
  • Barbecue sauce
  • 2 four-ounce woodchunks
  • 1 chimney of charcoal
  • A water pan


  1. Mix salt and pepper together to make about ½ cup of rub
  2. Apply ¼ cup (2 ounces) of rub to each rack of ribs
  3. Set up your grill or smoker for low indirect heat (see below for more)
  4. Cook ribs for about 4-5 hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit
  5. Brush on a thick layer of sauce, then sear over high heat
  6. Let rest for at least 15 minutes, then serve

I actually consider ribs to be among the easier meats to barbecue, which comes in handy when you’re having a LAN party upstairs from the grill. That, of course, depends on which recipe or method you use. This one is about as simple as it gets.

St. Louis-style pork ribs, which are probably the most common in supermarkets, don’t really need to be trimmed in any way. However, I like to get rid of the membrane on the underside of the ribs. It’s not really tasty and it significantly improves the quality of the finished product with minimal effort. It’s sort of like peeling an orange. Stick a butter knife under the side without the extra meat to get a grip and try to see if you can get it in one go.

Or a lemon?

I’ve mentioned previously that pork can go well with a sugar-based rub, but in this case I’ve gone with a Texas-style fresh-ground black pepper and kosher salt mixed at a ratio of 2:1 (try to get more coarse pepper if you can). The surface-to-volume ratio on ribs is pretty high because of the inedible bone in the middle, so be careful about over-salting. In general, shoot for around 2 teaspoons of salt per rack of ribs, or 2 ounces of rub (salt plus pepper).

Make sure you research plantations and mines first.

Pre-heating for smoking meat is a bit different on the Weber than for just grilling. If you have a slow n’ sear like I do, light 12+ charcoal briquettes in a chimney, then put them in one corner. Add about a chimney-full of unlit charcoals to the rest of the basket. Fill up the water pan with boiling water.

If you do not, there is something called the snake method. Stack your coals in a 2 x 2 crescent shape along half the diameter of the bottom layer of your kettle. Light about eight briquettes and put them on one end. The theory is that that the coals will light like a fuse, giving you consistent, low heat over the duration of the cook. Put a disposable foil water pan in the middle.

One of man’s greatest sins is having a preference for “fall-off-the-bone ribs,” something that casual restaurants have embraced with way too much enthusiasm. If your meat is sloughing off like the skin of your citizens when they get nuked by Gandhi, your ribs are definitely overcooked. My preference (which is the same standard as in competitions) is to have the meat have bite, but still come off clean from the bone.

The food equivalent of ballistic missile defense.

At temperatures of around 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, this should take about five hours. Ribs are probably one of the few meats where a temperature probe isn’t a necessity — the bones and their relative flatness makes it hard to get a good reading (though they do give you a general range). To tell if ribs are done, pick up one end with tongs; the top layer of the meat should begin to pull apart by its own gravity.

This is more of an art than a science — you want to get enough pull where it’s done, but not enough to where it’s falling apart. (You’d think I’d have a picture of this key part of this process, but I was definitely too distracted trying to plot my amphibious invasion of Central Asia from South America — which itself was incited by a 4,000 BC dispute over the Great Library of Alexandria.)

I don’t wrap my ribs in any part of the cooking process. In full disclosure, I’ve never tried — I’ve found the end product to be satisfactory and I have a preference for less mushy bark anyways. However, in competition barbecue (and in some restaurants, such as Franklin’s in Austin) it’s apparently pretty common for people to use something called the 3-2-1 method, or something similar. This involves 1) smoking at 225 degrees Fahrenheit unwrapped for three hours, 2) cooking in foil with a light coat of sauce or other liquid for two hours, and then 3) cooking at a high temperature with more sauce for one hour.

Civ V > homemade sauce (priorities)

I prefer to just baste a coat of sauce (commercial or otherwise) on the ribs at the end and then give it quick sear to caramelize the sugars.

Growing your population.

Although restaurants tend to serve ribs by the half rack, I’ve found that nobody ever eats that many. I either have courteous friends, too much beer on hand, or both.

As per Valentines Day last week: foreverabone.

Rest your ribs for little bit before feeding your citizens and watch your population grow.



  1. I’d like to start off by saying that I enjoyed this day so much I could Bablyon forever about it. It’s rare that I wake up and think about Russian to a friend’s house, making a quick pit stop to buy him a large coffee that he won’t drink (and a donut that I will eat), then spending the whole day playing games and awaiting his pristine-quality meat.

    Much like a post-granary caravan transports food between cities, he transported ribs directly from heaven to my salivating mouth. We Rome-d up and down the stairs a handful of times to check on their status, so it’s safe to say that they took a decent amount of time to cook. Even then, it just meant I had more time to admire the Masonry in his well-crafted building.

    As a fierce fan of Africa by Toto, it was only natural that I schemed to conquer the entirety of Africa. It’s like President Bush used to say, No City-State Left Behind! My dreams of a pan-African empire and Joey’s masterful use of Chemistry were really made into reality with the addition of juicy ribs to my juicy militarism.

    And believe me, I’m not civving you when I say that it was a well-rounded meal. I was petrafied at the concept of only stuffing my face-hole with meat, but Laura saved the day with her Tradition-al brownies and mac’n’cheese.

    Given Joey’s ever-increasing skills, I hope this day ushers in a Golden Age of Lemoncat BBQs.

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