Chris Schlesinger's Slow-Grilled Ribs

Makes 4 servings
Time: at least 3 (and up to 6) hours, largely unattended

These are ribs the way they should be, but you need a day off with an empty schedule to make them. If days like those are as infrequent in your life as they are in mine, try my version Bittman's Faster Grilled Ribs variation. The flavor is roughly the same, but the texture is not as perfect as that you achieve with Chris's method.

Chris's reasoning is that you drink a beer every time you add charcoal to the fire, so wood fires are not only better but more fun. Mine is that you have a beer whenever you feel like it, regardless of which grill you're using.


1/4 cup Chris Schlesinger's Rib Rub (see below)
About 4 pounds pork spareribs
About 3 cups hickory, oak, or other hardwood chips, soaked in water to cover

1. Massage the rub into the ribs. If you have a gas grill, preheat by using the burner on only one side, on medium heat, for about 15 minutes. If you are using a charcoal or wood fire, bank it to one side of your grill and keep the fire as low as possible, starting with just enough fuel to get heat, about 15 briquettes or the equivalent in hardwood charcoal. Sprinkle a handful of wood chips onto the rack above the heat source, allowing them to fall directly onto the fire.

2. Place the ribs away from the heat source (over the unlit burner of a gas grill) and cover the grill. You want a very cool fire, less than 300°F if possible (you should be able to hold your hand right over the area on which the ribs are cooking with just a little discomfort). If you are using solid fuel, add a few lumps of charcoal or a few briquettes every hour, just enough to keep the fire going. Turn the ribs every 30 minutes or so, adding more wood chips as needed, and re-closing the grill cover.

3. Depending on the heat of your fire, after 2 to 6 hours the ribs will have lost much of their fat and developed an unquestionably cooked look. Just before you're ready to eat, raise the heat to high (or add a
bunch more briquettes and wait a while) and brown the ribs on both sides. Be very careful; they will likely still have enough fat on them to flare up and burn, ruining all your hard work in an instant (believe me,
I've done it several times). Watch them constantly and move them frequently. Browning will take about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Chris Schlesinger's Rib Rub

Makes: 1/4 cup
Time: 5 minutes

I've relied on this for more than fifteen years; it's the best rib rub in my repertoire, and the only one you'll ever need. Unbelievably delicious, and not at all hot.

2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder

1. Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl, then transfer the mixture to a covered container. Keeps for at least one summer.