Recipe Review

Ina Garten’s “Dirty Little Secret” for Her Foolproof Ribs Will Make the Meat Fall Right Off the Bone

published Aug 26, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Talaya Centeno/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock; Design: Apartment Therapy

Summer may be drawing to an end, but that doesn’t mean your grilling days are over. What Ina Garten describes as the “dirty little secret” behind her foolproof ribs will allow you to keep those summer flavors going by minimizing the time your meat spends on the actual grill.

Start by preparing your barbecue sauce, which clocks in at 12 ingredients. But, as Ina points out, the ingredients are staples you likely already have in your kitchen. Start by sautéing onions in vegetable oil until translucent. Then add chopped garlic — which you’ll cook for about a minute — and add in your remaining ingredients: tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, hoisin sauce, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, chili powder, ground cumin, and crushed red pepper flakes for heat.

Once you’ve combined all of your ingredients in the saucepan, bring the mixture to a boil, allowing it to simmer for 30 minutes so that the flavors can combine. As the sauce is cooking, prepare your ribs by placing two full slabs of St. Louis-style ribs on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil — meat-side up — then season with salt and pepper. Slather the ribs with your now-ready homemade sauce and loosely cover them with aluminum foil.

This is when Ina’s “secret” comes in: Rather than going straight to the grill, you’ll bake your ribs at 350°F for an hour and 45 minutes first. You’ll know you’re ready for the next step in your cooking process when the meat is practically falling off the bone.

Add another, lighter layer of sauce to your ribs, then place them on your heated and oiled grill, bone-side down. Cover the grill with the lid, vents open, and cook for five minutes; flip the ribs and repeat. After cooking the meat side, remove the ribs from the grill, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and allow them to rest for 10 minutes.

The honey in your barbecue sauce will allow the ribs to caramelize during the grilling process, while baking the ribs before grilling (which Ina insinuates she does with other meats as well) allows you to get that nice char flavor without overcooking your meat.

As for your leftover barbecue sauce, serve it alongside your ribs as a dipper or topper.

Check out the video below.