A big slab of beef ribs can be hard to find and intimidating to cook, so here I use short ribs. I also don’t follow any prescribed style of cooking or flavoring, which makes this recipe an easy shortcut for beginners, or people who don’t want to spend hours smoking their ribs. Start with a sweet and spicy rub to coat the meat, and let it sit overnight for the best flavor. In the meantime, make the slightly smoky chipotle barbecue sauce. Roast the ribs in the oven until the meat almost falls off the bone, then finish them on the grill, slathering them with sauce until the ribs are lacquered and slightly charred. Serve with a fresh corn salad and some herby potatoes.
Special equipment: You’ll need a pastry brush or barbecue basting brush for this recipe.
What to buy: Look for flanken-cut beef short ribs—they’re sliced through the bones, revealing four or five oval-shaped cross-sections. You’ll need ribs that are 2 to 2 1/2 inches thick and 5 to 7 inches long. But don’t worry if you can’t find that exact size or cut: Though their shape is not ideal for grilling, English-cut short ribs (sliced parallel to the rib) can also be used in this recipe. Just monitor the cooking time in step 3—if your ribs are thinner than 2 inches, check them for doneness after about 1 1/2 hours; if they’re thicker than 2 1/2 inches, check them after 2 hours.
Game plan: You can make the ribs through step 3 up to 2 days in advance. After roasting, transfer them to a large, shallow container, set aside to cool for about 1 hour, then cover and refrigerate. When you’re ready to grill, remove the ribs from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature before grilling, about 1 hour.
The barbecue sauce can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Let it come to room temperature before using.
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- Yield: 4 to 6 servings
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 3 hrs 10 mins, plus up to 24 hrs marinating time
For the ribs:
- 1/4 cup paprika
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 pounds (2- to 2-1/2-inch-thick) flanken-cut beef short ribs
For the barbecue sauce:
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, finely chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the ribs:
- Place all of the ingredients except the ribs in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Place the ribs in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and arrange them in an even layer. Evenly rub the spice mixture on all sides of the ribs and cover the dish with aluminum foil. (At this point, you can roast the ribs immediately, but for the best flavor and texture, refrigerate them for up to 24 hours.)
- Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. (If you rubbed the ribs in advance, remove them from the refrigerator and set aside at room temperature while the oven is heating, at least 20 minutes.)
- Place the ribs in the oven and roast until fork-tender, about 2 hours. Meanwhile, make the sauce.
For the barbecue sauce:
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients, whisk to combine, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer, whisking occasionally, until the flavors have melded and the sauce has reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to grill the ribs.
To grill the ribs:
- Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium (about 350°F to 450°F).
- Place the ribs on the grill and brush them with some of the sauce. Cover the grill and cook until grill marks appear on the bottom of the ribs, about 5 minutes. Turn the ribs, brush with sauce, cover, and cook another 5 minutes. Flip and brush every 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened and formed a glaze and the ribs are heated through, about 20 minutes total. Transfer the remaining sauce to a serving bowl and serve with the ribs.