Backyard Barbecued Ribs


Labor Day marks the sad end of our beloved summer, so why not make the most of the holiday with a backyard barbecue?

Our family loves ribs, so years ago I came up with a tasty rub and quick barbecue sauce that pleased us all.

When we moved to Highland Park in 1985, a neighbor at our first block party mentioned that she loved to shop at Poeta’s Italian Food Market in Highwood. Brothers Luca and Dominic Poeta are butchers who take great care in getting the best meats and poultry available. They opened their store in 1978 and have been busy every day since. I have been shopping there twice weekly for all these years and have never once been disappointed in anything I buy there. They make their own Italian sausage and their baby back pork ribs are outstanding.

I like to precook the ribs before they go on the grill to cut the grilling time down and make sure they get cooked through. There are two types of rib-lovers: those who prefer the meat to fall off the bone, and those who like to do a little more work chewing it off. Since we are a family of gnawers I use a baking method rather than boiling the ribs before rubbing them. Baking with the rub on imbues the ribs with lots of flavor; brushing with the barbecue sauce on the grill gives them a nice glaze.

I like to serve the ribs with my homemade coleslaw, wedges of watermelon and warmed crusty bread, but you can choose any of your favorite summer side dishes.

Backyard Barbecued Ribs
Serves 4 to 6

  • 3 whole slabs baby back pork ribs, cut in half

Dry Rub

  • 2 tablespoons paprika or smoked paprika
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Quick Barbecue Sauce

  • 3/4 cup catsup
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced


1. For dry rub, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle over meaty side of ribs and rub seasonings into meat with your fingers. At this point, the ribs may be refrigerated up to 24 hours before cooking which will only make them taste better.

2. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place ribs in a single layer in a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake 45 minutes.

3. For barbecue sauce, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; mix well. Pour half of the mixture into a small serving pitcher; set aside.

4. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill to medium heat. Place ribs meaty sides down on the grid. Cover; grill 6 minutes. Turn; brush the remaining sauce in the bowl over ribs. Continue to grill covered 8 to 10 minutes or until ribs are glazed and hot. Serve immediately with the pitcher of barbecue sauce.