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America's 35 Best Ribs 2014

America's 35 Best Ribs 2014

There are few things in life more delicious and satisfying than a plate of barbecue. And more often than not, the centerpiece of that plate is a rack of ribs. A glistening, smoky, slow-cooked rib, whether pork or beef, has the potential to be one of the most groan-inducingly good foods in existence, especially when enjoyed with a cold, easy-drinking beer. But who makes the best ribs in America? And what exactly makes a perfect rib?

Click Here for the America's Best Ribs Slideshow

We reached out to some of the country’s most renowned food writers and critics, and assembled a list not only of their favorites, but of ribs that are renowned far and wide for their smoky perfection. The only criterion that we provided these panelists was that their picks needed to be bone-in ribs, best eaten with your hands and a pile of napkins. So while we’re certainly fans of Italian-style braised short ribs (famed critic Gael Greene told us that her favorite ribs are the ones at New York City’s Il Buco Alimentari), those didn’t meet our criteria for this list. Renowned food writer and director of the Southern Foodways Alliance John T. Edge, The Washington Post’s Tim Carman, GQ’s Alan Richman, the Los Angeles Times’ Jonathan Gold, and Esquire’s John Mariani all submitted some of their favorites. A couple of panelists also gave us their answer to the question — "What makes the perfect rib?"

So what does make for a perfect rib, according to some of the country’s leading experts? Tenderness, sauce-to-meat ratio, smokiness, and good charring.

"For me, barbecue spareribs should not fall off the bone like those ubiquitous braised short ribs you find on every chef-driven menu,” Tim Carman told us. “Your teeth should be engaged in the eating process with spareribs, forced to lock onto the smoky flesh and gently pull it from the bone. The spareribs should also not arrive at your table smothered in tangy/sweet/spicy sauce. I want to taste the meat and smoke and whatever layer of seasonings the pitmaster has applied to the ribs. Sauces can hide defects in seasoning and smoking."

"For me a great rib is never oversmoked, pink under the skin, with good charring on the outside,” John Mariani said. “The sauce is down my list of virtues, preferring a dry rub to do most of the work. The meat may come off the bone easily but not “fall off,” and there should be some definite chewiness to the meat."

We wholeheartedly agree, so with those parameters in mind, we set off to find the country’s 20 best ribs, building on our previous rankings and ranking them according to local renown, critical appraisal, and adherence to the criteria set forth by our panel of experts. A word of warning before reading on: You’ll be hungry by the time you make your way to number one. And if your favorite place isn’t on the list, we also agree with what Alan Richman told us: "In fact, they’re all great."

35) Morgan’s Barbecue, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Pitmaster John Avila, formerly of Austin’s renowned Franklin Barbecue, is no longer manning the pit that he helped build when Morgan’s opened on Brooklyn’s well-trafficked Flatbush Avenue not far from the Barclays Center, but his legacy — and amazing ribs — live on. These are Texas-style ribs, meaning they rely only on a salt-and-pepper-heavy dry rub and oak wood smoke to make the meat shine. They’re smoked for upwards of 12 hours, and are tender, juicy, and full of flavor.

34) Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, Llano, Texas

This supremely peppery pork rib breaks a trademark rule of barbecue — it’s finished over direct heat — but it’s just about impossible not to fall in love with Cooper’s ribs. That finishing touch gives it a great char, and you’re also allowed to choose your own rack, right off the grill. The folks at Details Magazine also agree that this is one of the country’s finest.

Click here to learn about 33 more of the best ribs in America.

Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers. Additional Reporting by Ryan Glasspiegel.


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Edging into forty-something, Karen and Pam found themselves in a state of stuck. They had checked off many of their major life goalscareer, husband, children, friendsbut they'd lost momentum. After griping over drinks one night, they came up with a plan to face their fears, rediscover their interests, try new things, and renew their relationships. They challenged themselves to try one new thing every week for a yearfrom test-driving a Maserati to target practice at a shooting range to ballroom dance lessonsand to blog about their journeys. They quickly realized it was harder than they ever imagined but came through it with a sense of clarity and purpose that has them itching to share the possibilities with the millions of middle-aged women out there who feel the same way about one or many areas of their lives. Getting unstuck doesn't have to mean running a marathon, traveling the world, or ending a relationship with your partner. Through their experiences and a good dose of no-nonsense advice, Karen and Pam show readers how achieving small goals can give you a renewed sense of accomplishment and how you can keep growing, learning, and moving forward at any age. Interspersed with personal stories is expert advice from doctors, psychiatrists, artists, and even a poker diva (who also happens to be a Fortune 500 executive)

Award-winning barbecue recipes -- Bovine recipes -- Hawg recipes -- Yardbird recipes -- Mexi-que recipes -- Family cookout favorites -- Small plates & side dishes -- Seafood recipes -- Other recipes -- Rubs, sauces, & more

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Memphis BBQ Rub

In Memphis, the rub is the most important ingredient aside from the meat. Often ribs are served with only a rub and without sauce. This means that this barbecue rub has to provide all the flavor to make Memphis-style barbecue. This rub starts with a generous portion of paprika and then builds a slightly spicy but definitely savory profile to help you make the most of your barbecue. This Memphis rub is particularly good on ribs but can be used on any smoked meats.

Bone-in country ribs work best with this recipe. If you choose to use boneless ribs, be sure to cover them with foil. This will help keep the ribs from becoming dry.

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Season the ribs well with salt and pepper or dry rub. Transfer the ribs to a rimmed baking sheet [paid link] or baking pan lined with aluminum foil and a roasting rack. To dry roast, bake ribs for 90 minutes, uncovered. For boneless, I suggest using aluminum foil to cover the ribs as they can sometimes dry out. You can also use a splash of apple juice as a mopping sauce to help keep the ribs moist.
  3. Meanwhile, combine all of the BBQ sauce ingredients in a saucepan [paid link] and slowly bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer until dark, thick, and richly flavored 10 to 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning to your desired flavor, if necessary.
  4. After 90 minutes, carefully remove the tray from the oven. Carefully pour off any juices and oils that have collected in the pan.
  5. Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and baste the ribs with BBQ sauce. For brushing on the BBQ sauce, I love these silicone basting brushes that can go right in the dishwasher.
  6. Continue basting every 30 minutes, turning the ribs each time you baste with sauce.
  7. After 90 minutes, baste them one more time and then move them under the broiler.
  8. Broil the ribs for a minute or two just to caramelize the sauce. The sugars in the sauce can char fast so be sure to stay close to the oven during the broiling process.

Heat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit (135C).

If the ribs still have the thin membrane covering the back of the rack, remove it. See how in the notes section below.

Season both sides of the ribs with a generous amount of salt and pepper then place, meat-side up, into a large roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. (It may be necessary to cut the ribs in half in order for them to fit into the pan).

Cover the pan or baking sheet tightly with aluminum foil, and then bake until the meat falls easily from the bones, 3 to 4 hours.

While the ribs bake, make the barbecue sauce. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.

Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the cumin and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

Add the ketchup, hot chili sauce, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar. Stir to combine, season with salt then cook for 2 minutes. Set aside in preparation for the ribs to finish roasting.

Remove the ribs from the oven, discard the aluminum foil and generously brush both sides with barbecue sauce.

Optional: Move an oven rack near to the top of the oven. Turn broiler to high and broil the ribs for 3-4 minutes, just until the barbecue sauce begins to caramelize. (Keep a close eye on the ribs while they broil so they the sauce does not burn.)

Short Ribs

Short ribs are just what their name says they are — “short ribs” cut from any part along the length of the cow’s ribs. They can come from the lower belly section or higher up toward the back, from the shoulder (or chuck) area, or the forward midsection.

When we started testing short ribs, we went to the local grocery store and bought out their supply. What we brought back to the test kitchen were 2- to 4-inch lengths of wide flat rib bone, to which a rectangular plate of fatty meat was attached. We also ordered short ribs from the butcher. Imagine our confusion when these turned out to be long, continuous pieces of meat, about 3/4 inch thick, that had been cut across the ribs and grain and that included two or three segments of rib bone. The former, we learned, are sometimes called English-style short ribs, and the samples from the butcher are called flanken-style ribs.

We began by braising both types of ribs. The ones from the butcher were favored by most tasters because the relatively thin, across-the-grain cut made the meat more pleasant to eat the supermarket ribs were a bit stringier because they contained longer segments of “grain.” Both types were equally tender and good, but considering the cost ($5.99 versus $2.99 per pound) and effort (special order) required to procure the butcher-cut specimens, we ultimately chose to develop our recipes to use the English-style.

Tuscan-Style Pork Spareribs

This recipe, from NYC chef Cesare Casella, appeared several years ago in an article by JBF Award&ndashwinning authors Matt Lee and Ted Lee and was reprinted in The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century. In the book, Hesser suggests serving the ribs and sauce in large shallow bowls, with beer and plenty of napkins on the side.


3 tablespoons minced garlic, plus 2 cloves garlic, sliced
3 tablespoons finely chopped sage
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
7 pounds pork spareribs
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or as needed
Two 28-ounce cans tomatoes, with their juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
2 1/2 cups water
1 cup dry white wine


Combine the minced garlic, sage, rosemary, salt, black pepper, and 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper in a small bowl. Put the spareribs on a baking sheet and rub well with the spice mixture. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.

Heat the oven to 375ºF. Arrange the ribs in a 12 x 16-inch roasting pan (use 2 pans if necessary) and roast uncovered for 1 hour, or until browned.

Turn the ribs over and roast for another hour. If drippings in the bottom of the pan begin to burn, add a small amount of water or olive oil.

Meanwhile, pour the olive oil into a large saucepan, add the sliced garlic and remaining tablespoon of crushed red pepper, and sauté over medium heat until the garlic begins to color. Add the tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and 1 1/2 cups water season with salt, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. As the tomatoes soften, break them up with a whisk and stir. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Adjust the seasoning, and remove from the heat.

When the ribs have browned on both sides, pour the wine, remaining 1 cup water, and the tomato sauce over them. (If you&rsquove used 2 pans to roast the ribs, combine them all in one pan now.) Cover the pan with foil and roast for 40 minutes.

Remove the foil, skim off the excess fat, and roast uncovered for 20 minutes more. Cut into 4-rib sections.


Step 1

Preheat oven to 300°. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Place each rack of ribs on a double layer of foil sprinkle rub all over ribs. Wrap racks individually and divide between 2 baking sheets.

Step 2

Bake ribs until very tender but not falling apart, about 2 hours for baby backs and 3 hours for spareribs. Carefully unwrap ribs pour any juices from foil into a 4-cup heatproof measuring cup reserve juices. Let ribs cool completely. DO AHEAD: Ribs can be baked up to 3 days ahead (the flavor will be more developed, and the cold ribs will hold together better on the grill as they heat through). Cover and chill juices. Rewrap ribs in foil and chill.

Step 3

Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Add broth or water to rib juices, if needed, to measure 1 1/2 cups. Whisk in barbecue sauce to blend.

Step 4

Grill ribs, basting with barbecue sauce mixture and turning frequently, until lacquered and charred in places and heated through, 7-10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board cut between ribs to separate. Transfer to a platter and serve with additional barbecue sauce.

How would you rate Best-Ever Barbecued Ribs?

i made St. Louis ribs and i cooked them for 3 hours. they were falling off the bone so i finished them in the oven. these ribs are greatgreatgreat and the sauce is delish!

I tried this recipe with Beef Ribs. I think one of the keys is to bake and refrigerate first before throwing on the grill as instructed. Really keeps the ribs together and the meld of rub then sauce with the extra time is fantastic. I did keep the ribs out on the counter for 1/2 hr before grilling so as to not put cold meat on a hot grill. As hot as it gets here in summer, doing the bulk of the work in the oven early and ending with a short grilling for that crispiness is no good ppl.

This recipe is the only recipe I will ever need for making ribs ever again. It's so delicious that I only have two changes I've made to it, and that's adding brown sugar to the rub and using smoked paprika. Making this along with Bon Appetit's Bourbon barbeque sauce is so amazing. Everyone who has eaten these ribs after I made them has told me that they are the best ribs they've ever had.

Would so appreciate help - the store sent spare ribs, but pre-cut instead of in slabs. Should I do anything differently? Appreciate any insight!

Delicious and so easy. I only had 3 lbs of St Louis ribs but cooked them just as described (just scaled down the spices) for about 2 hours 45 minutes in the oven, then finished on the grill. Can't wait to make it again and again. I loved the trick of mixing the juices into the barbecue sauce. Thanks Claire!

Ridiculous. I had my doubts about this but I tried it anyway. Needless to say they came out perfect. While grilling I threw some applewood pellets on the coals for some smokey flavor. I just finished 3/4 of a rack of st louis style ribs by myself. I wonder, would this method work with an offset smoker to speed up the smoking time vs smoking raw pork ribs?

I’ve made these many many times, and they always work perfectly. I’ve even been told I should start a restaurants/farmers market stand to sell them.

These ribs are phenomenal, so tasty and easy to make. I highly recommend

I've made this recipe twice the first time in the oven, and the second time on the smoker. both times, the ribs came out perfect!

I've made ribs a few times using this method and they've turned out perfect each time--beautifully tender with a lovely char on the outside. Definitely my go-to technique for ribs from here on out.

The caption says to cook at 300 F, but recipe and video say 350 F. Which is correct?

You want to make these ribs! The rub is an easy and delicious blend of ingredients you probably have in your pantry. The bbq sauce can be your own or a good jar (Sweet Baby Rays). The only thing you will be slaving over is eating the ribs. I am a terrible cook but this recipe makes me the best rib maker ever! Everyone loves them.

So simple and Claire’s tips help with the mess and creating a great basting sauce! I am in love with this recipe. Can’t wait to make it for a family gathering.

No, but for real. These are the best ribs in the history of ribs. I'm not particularly skilled at cooking meat (ex-vegetarian here) and I'm not really great at BBQing. But my brother and I had a contest one day on who did the best ribs and these were fall apart perfection (I won). And the flavours were magnificent. I have no suggestions expect to follow the recipe.

3. Bogart’s Smokehouse, St. Louis

A relative newcomer, Bogart’s is helmed by the former pitmaster from a St. Louis institution, Pappy’s. The sides here are spectacular, but make sure not to fill up on them because their ribs are the main event. They’re sticky and caramelized due to a special treatment that they get after being removed from the grill: they’re hit with a blowtorch, a genius move if we ever saw one.

Watch the video: The Best Korean Short Ribs. SAM THE COOKING GUY 4K (January 2022).