Prepare dry rub by combining all ingredients in a small bowl and mixing well.
Wash ribs and pat dry with paper towels.
Remove the whitish-colored membrane on the back of the ribs. (Tip: I often use a butter knife to begin separating the membrane from the ribs. Once I have a portion started, I use my fingers to pull the membrane off the rest of the rack.)
Trim off any large pieces of fat. Some fat is fine, but you don’t want large pieces.
Spread a thin layer of mustard (or veggie oil) all over ribs and then coat with the dry rub. (I prefer to use mustard as it creates a better flavor once grilled.) Be generous with the spice rub but not so much that you can’t see the ribs anymore! Wrap ribs with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator from 1.5 hours – overnight. Again, there is a lot of debate on how long to let ribs rest. If you have the ability, just do it overnight. But if you wake up one morning craving ribs, you can still make it happen for that night!
Remove the ribs from the refrigerator about 30-45 minutes before cooking. You want the ribs to be close to room temperature by the time they go on the grill.
Meanwhile, preheat your grill to 225°F. The key here is low and slow. If you are using a gas grill, just turn on one burner on one side. If using regular charcoal, go with several cups of of lit coals and then pour another several cups of unlit coals on top. Set these coals up on one edge of the charcoal grill. Then grill the ribs on the opposite side to create the indirect heat needed to make delicious ribs. If you happen to have a smoker (I use a Big Green Egg) then just adjust your vents to create a stable 225-250°F degree grill.
Once the grill has reached a stable 225-250°F, then you are ready to add the wood chunks. (Chips can work, but you will have to add them more often as they will burn faster.) Add a handful of chunks directly on top of the coals or right next to the burner. As tempting as it might be, don’t overdo the wood chunks here! (If you’ve ever had a meal that tasted purely of smoke, then you know the dangers of over-smoking. Your ribs might be perfectly cooked, but too much smoke will ruin that delicious flavor!)
Put the ribs on the grill bone-side down, then close the lid and leave it closed! After about 3 hours, remove the ribs and wrap them tightly in aluminum foil. But before closing up the foil, add about 8 ounces of dark beer or apple juice. (I find this step helps create those perfect fall-off-the-bone style ribs!)
Return the ribs to the grill for another 2 hours at 225-250°F degrees.
And now it’s time for BBQ sauce. Brush a thick coat of sauce over both sides of the ribs, and then move the racks over direct heat for about 30 minutes. I like BBQ sauce, but I don’t like to slather the sauce on the ribs. I prefer to add a little bit at the end and allow the BBQ sauce to caramelize slightly. I find this allows the smoke flavor to come out and not be hidden by BBQ sauce. (For those who like more sauce, feel free to put extra sauce on the table!)
To test doneness, pick up one end of a rack with grill tongs. If the rack bends to almost 90 degrees, then it’s done. I know this isn’t scientific, but it’s difficult to use a meat thermometer on ribs due to the bones.
Once the ribs are done, allow them to rest a few minutes, then enjoy!
You will need Lump Charcoal or Propane, and Wood Chunks or Chips for smoking.