Pork ribs on the barbecue can be as high maintenance as a New Yorker on a juice cleanse. But there are many ways to prepare delicious baby backs and spare ribs, whether you’ve got half a day, a yard and lots of patience, or nothing more than a slow cooker.
1. Barbecued: For ribs with that incomparable smoky flavor, you’ve got to cook them low and slow on the grill, adding more charcoal and wood chips every so often to keep the temperature steady. Ribs cooked this way need some pampering (you would too, if you were spending hours in a sauna): To create a great crust, rub them in advance with spices. For extra flavor after the crust forms, try spritzing the ribs with a mixture of cider and cider vinegar, and then finish them off with a glaze.
2. Roast, then grill: If you want to capture some of that smoky flavor but can’t quite commit to the half-day spa treatment for your ribs, let your oven do the initial work, cooking the ribs low and slow until they’re tender. Then just grill them over a blazing fire, brushing with a glaze until they’re nicely caramelized, or dressing them with a vinaigrette afterward.