Date Night - The Rib Grill Off

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For date night this past weekend, we achieved a goal that we've had ever since we purchased our barbecue grill a year ago. We finally learned how to grill ribs, and man did we grill them good! I'm already looking forward to the next time make barbecue ribs and hope it's soon! I have some tried and true sauce recipes from times before when I've made ribs in the oven or the crock pot before but we decided not to use any of them for this date night adventure. Instead, we thought it would be fun to have a grill off! If we were going to be experimenting with the grilling technique, we might as well experiment with the flavors as well.

Bring your competitive side for this fun rib grill-off date night

Last Sunday night, as soon as I let Joe know what date night for the week would be, he started very thorough research on what would make the juiciest, most flavor filled ribs. My research was not as extensive as his. Since I already knew what I wanted to do for my dry rub and sauce, I set out to find the best way to grill ribs with our busy schedules, since I knew we didn't have all day to spend with them like most people do in a legitimate rib cook off. During the week, I made a trip to Walmart to pick up our Farmland Pork Spareribs and when Friday night rolled around, we were ready!

Farmland Pork Spareribs

I'm a big fan of ribs that have more of a sweet flavor to them and I tend to stray away from any sauces that are spicy or have too much of a kick, so I knew that my ribs needed to be very sweet. I accomplished my goal! These ribs were really sweet and delicious, just how I like them! The brown sugar that I put on them, right before grilling, had caramelized underneath the sauce so they had a little sugary crunch to them that Joe and I both really loved. The one comment that Joe made and I agreed with was that because I used an actual barbecue sauce on my ribs, they had more a generic taste to them and the barbecue sauce almost overpowered everything else that I'd added to it.

Sauce Grilled Barbecue Ribs
grilled saucy ribs

Joe's ribs won the grill off, there was no doubt about it. While both recipes were delicious, his had so much great flavor, I couldn't get enough! The mustard and vinegar packed just enough punch while the apple juice and the brown sugar added the perfect amount of sweetness. Rather than having a barbecue sauce like my ribs had, Joe's had more of a glaze because he made his sauce runny compared to the thickness of mine. They were a lot less messy than mine, and a lot less sticky. We have leftovers of both ribs in our fridge right now and these are the ones that I'm looking forward to eating for lunch the most. So perfect and so yummy, I had no problem admitting that he'd won our competition and Joe didn't hesitate to agree and accept his title of champion!

sauceless grilled ribs
the best grilled rib recipe

Tips for Grilling Ribs

The rub, sauce and flavoring aren't everything, start off with amazing ribs! We stopped at Walmart to pick up some Farmland Pork Spareribs and they were the perfect place to start for each of our recipes. I prefer pork ribs over beef and these didn't disappoint.

Plan on a whole day for marinating. We didn't think this one through and only got a few hours for our dry rub to sit on the ribs before we started cooking them. They still tasted delicious, but next time we plan on marinating them for a full 24 hours instead.

Put a pan of water next to the ribs while grilling. This is a tip that Joe read somewhere in his research. The water is supposed to keep humidity and moisture inside the grill and contribute to more tender ribs. Since we've never grilled ribs without the pan of water, I wouldn't know if it's better either way, but our ribs were definitely tender.

Remove the excess meat before grilling. Maybe you're all aware of this, but I wasn't and Joe didn't tell me about it until after our ribs were completely cooked. Notice how in the picture above, our ribs look like a large chunk of meat instead of a slim rack of ribs. When I was prepping them I noticed that there was a few inches of extra meat on one side of the ribs, but I didn't think anything of it. Apparently you're supposed to remove that meat and cook it separately. Our ribs would have looked a little bit more legit if I'd done a bit more research on how to prepare them first. We were learning though, and now I'll know for next time!

For faster grilling time start the ribs out in the oven. Ideally, we would have let our ribs cook from start to finish on the grill, up to five hours. But with our busy schedules, we didn't have that kind of time. We let our ribs cook in the oven at 350 degrees F for an hour before putting them on the grill. (We did this the night before.) They still needed one to two hours on the grill, but they weren't quite so time consuming.

grilled ribs

Make sure you visit the Get Fired Up Grilling website for additional recipes and tips from BBQ Pitmasters Moe Cason and Tuffy Stone. You can also enter the sweepstakes to win a trip to the American Royal BBQ contest plus other great grilling prizes!

Who would win a rib grill-off in your house?