The trick to great barbecued ribs is not letting the meat get lost in the sauce.
So to keep the pork flavorful and moist — and to give it the substance to stand up to the sauce — I created a quick sweet and peppery brine from brown sugar, kosher salt, peppercorns and garlic powder.
A quick — or not, depending on how much time you have — bath in the brine produces exceptionally tender, moist ribs. And to help the meat shine even more, I opted for country-style pork ribs, which are all meat and no bone.
As for the barbecue sauce, there’s nothing wrong with using purchased. But it’s easy to make your own, which lets you tweak the flavors. I created a spicy Asian-influenced one for this recipe (it includes ginger, toasted sesame oil and hot sauce).
Brined and Grilled Country-Style Pork Ribs
Start to finish: 1 hour 20 minutes (20 minutes active)
For the brine:
2 cups water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon garlic powder
4 cups ice
1 1/4 pounds country-style pork ribs
For the barbecue sauce:
6-ounce can tomato paste
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground dry ginger
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons water
In a medium saucepan over medium-high, combine the water, brown sugar, salt, peppercorns and garlic powder. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add the ice and stir until fully cooled.
Transfer the brine to a large zip-close plastic bag. Add the ribs, seal the bag and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the barbecue sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, brown sugar, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, ginger, cumin, mustard powder, honey, sesame oil and water.
When ready to grill, heat a grill to medium-high. Coat the grate with oil or cooking spray. Drain and discard the brine.
Place the ribs on the grill. Brush the tops of the ribs with barbecue sauce, then cover the grill and cook for 5 minutes. Use tongs to flip the ribs, then brush the tops with additional barbecue sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted at the thickest part of a rib reads 160 F.
Just before serving, sprinkle the ribs with sesame seeds.