The Most Addictive Ribs

We think of it as the Eleventh Commandment: When entertaining, thou shall not make food that requires too much time away from your guests. And though it’s easy to forget this when the weather is warm and the parties move outside and the grill is up and running, the rule still applies. We learned this the hard way that one time we thought it was a good idea to do six pounds of precut baby lamb chops—one of us flipping (and flipping) and sweating (and sweating) over the raging Weber, the other distributing, short-order style, while the chops were still hot. We’ve wised up a bit since then, landing on a couple of racks of baby back ribs as our go-to move. Here’s why:

• Because the heavy-lifting takes place ahead of time, when the rub goes on and the racks roast in the oven for hours. Then the only thing that has to happen when the chaos—happy chaos!—descends is a slather of sauce while the ribs lacquer up on the grill.

• Because there are endless sauce variations (sweet and tomatoey for the kids, smoky and spicy gochujang—a recipe we cribbed from Justin Montgomery and Chris Vergara, the chefs at our favorite local haunt Harper’s—for the grown-ups).

• Because they’re absurdly good when grilled, and you can eat them with your fingers, a crucial element of summer cooking.

This is our “Providers” column for the July 2016 issue of Bon Appetit. (Subscribe here.) Head over to BA for Chris and Justin’s ridiculously addictive Gochujang Rib recipe, and while you’re there, omg, the watermelon granita. Photo credit: Alex Lau for Bon Appetit. And head over to Harper’s next time you find yourself in Westchester. (We’ll be sitting in the booth to your left.)

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jessica ireland

Ooh these recipes is just what I needed, thank you!!
p.s. I know you’re a green chile fan, and as a Santa Fean, may I suggest green chile cornbread (slathered in butter and honey) as a side for ribs? 🙂 xo


I totally agree – when entertaining at home everything needs to be prepared ahead of time. That means a simple recipe, or staggering meal prep across the week. There’s nothing I hate more than my guests noticing me fretting away in the kitchen and feeling like they can’t relax.

PS – This recipe looks stomach-achingly delicious! I’ve never been great at cooking pork ribs, I think it’s because here in Australia we don’t really have a “tradition” of it as you do in America but I’m definitely going to try this.


You are correct about not fixing foods that take you away from your guests! It does seem a bit rude to invite people over and you’re in the kitchen for the majority of the time. Ribs are a yummy choice; choose your own sauce and get messy. And of course you can choose beef, pork, or lamb ribs. This post made me a bit hungry. And thanks for the restaurant recommendation too.