From America's Test Kitchen
Kansas City ribs are slow-smoked pork ribs slathered in a sauce so thick, sweet, and sticky that you need a case of wet naps to get your hands clean after eating them. But authentic ribs can take all day to prepare. We knew we could come up with a faster method for Kansas City ribs—one that would produce the same fall-off-the-bone, tender smoky meat of the long-cooked original recipe.
We quickly learned that spareribs, which are well marbled with fat, produce moist, tender ribs, but some racks are so big they barely fit on the grill. We turned to a more manageable cut, referred to as “St. Louis” ribs, which is a narrower, rectangular rack that offers all the taste of whole spareribs without any of the trouble. A spice rub added flavor and encouraged a savory crust on the meat. We barbecued the ribs, covered with foil, over indirect heat for four hours—the foil traps some of the steam over the meat, so that it cooks up tender, not dry. Using wood chips on the grill imparts the meat with great smoky flavor. For sticky, saucy ribs, we brushed the ribs all over with barbecue sauce during the last hour of cooking, then wrapped them in foil and cooked them until they were tender and falling off the bone.
Serves 4 to 6
Buy St. Louis-style racks , which are more manageable than untrimmed pork ribs. We prefer our sauce recipe (see related recipe), but store-bought works, too (Texas Best and Bull’s-Eye are our favorites). If you're not keen on tending a grill for 4 hours, our ribs will still taste good even if they spend the last 2 hours of cooking in your oven, see optional step 6.