For best taste, marinate the ribs in the refrigerator for 8 hours. The meat will be juicy and the marinade flavor will penetrate deeply into the rib meat. However, even if you marinate the ribs for just five minutes, the ribs will have a marvelous flavor if, during cooking, you baste them periodically with the marinade. Be sure not to brush any more marinade on the ribs during the last fifteen minutes of smoking, grilling, or oven roasting, so that any bacteria that the marinade absorbed from the raw meat will be killed. If you want to use the marinade as a sauce to accompany the ribs, reserve a portion of the marinade so that it never comes in contact with the raw meat or boil the meat marinade for one minute to kill any bacteria.
Basting ribs is essential when grilling, oven roasting, or smoking ribs. Basting helps keep the meat moist and creates a thicker coating on the ribs. Place the ribs on a baking sheet or roasting pan. For dry rubs, use your fingers to rub the mixture vigorously across both sides of the ribs. For marinades and slathers, coat both sides of the ribs using a basting brush, the under side of a spoon, or your hands. It is not necessary to rub the marinade into the meat; just coat the meat on all sides.
Brown Paper Bag Technique
Here's a great optional technique that allows you to smoke, grill, or roast ribs before guests arrive and, if you are using spare ribs or beef ribs, the meat will be even more tender. As soon as the ribs have been smoked, grilled, or roasted, transfer the ribs to a large supermarket paper bag, meaty side up. Fold the end of the bag closed and staple it shut, be sure not to press the top of the bag into the surface of the ribs or the marinade will be rubbed off. Place the bag in a 140-degree oven for up to one hour. Then serve the ribs. The ribs "steam" in the bag and the paper absorbs the fat.
Never cut sides of ribs into individual ribs prior to smoking, grilling, or roasting. This causes the meat to dry out during cooking. If you have removed the side of ribs from the smoker, grill, or oven and plan to serve the ribs right away (and not keep them warm in a paper bag-see the previous section), wait five minutes before cutting them into individual ribs. When the ribs cool slightly they are easier to handle. Plus, internal juices that would have flooded onto the cutting board from the piping hot ribs are given time to be absorbed by the meat fiber, resulting in juicier meat. To carve, hold the meat with tongs while cutting between the bones. The best knives to use are a chef's knife, Chinese cleaver, or a Japanese slicing knife.
If using a gas barbecue, preheat it to medium (325 degrees). If using charcoal or wood, prepare a fire. When the coals or wood are ash covered, push them to the outside of the grill. Place a pan of water in the bottom of the grill among the coals, and cover the coals with the cooking grate. Place a rib rack on the cooling grate and add the ribs. Alternatively, brush the cooking grate with a flavorless cooking oil, such as safflower oil, and then lay the ribs meaty side up in the center of the grill. Cover the grill. Regulate the heat so it remains at a medium temperature. Occasionally during cooking, baste the ribs with extra marinade. Grill the ribs until the meat begins to shrink from the ends of the rib bones. Approximate grilling times: pork baby back ribs and country-style spareribs, 75 minutes; spareribs and beef ribs, 90 minutes; lamb ribs, 40 minutes