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. 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.
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
cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon garlic powder
4 cups ice
1 pounds country-style pork ribs
For the barbecue sauce:
6-ounce can tomato paste
cup packed brown sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
teaspoon garlic powder
teaspoon ground dry ginger
teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons water
In medium saucepan over medium-high, combine water, brown sugar, salt, peppercorns and garlic powder. Bring to a simmer, stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Add ice and stir until fully cooled.
Transfer brine to a large zip-close plastic bag. Add ribs, seal bag and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare barbecue sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together tomato paste, brown sugar, salt, garlic powder, ginger, cumin, mustard powder, honey, sesame oil and water.
When ready to grill, heat grill to medium-high. Coat grate with oil or cooking spray. Drain and discard the brine.
Place ribs on grill. Brush tops of ribs with barbecue sauce, then cover grill and cook for 5 minutes. Use tongs to flip ribs, then brush tops with additional barbecue sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted at thickest part of a rib reads 160 F.
Just before serving, sprinkle the ribs with sesame seeds.