Slow-Grilled Salt and Pepper Ribs with Three Sauces


BBQ Sauce (top), Chimichurri Sauce (right), and Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (bottom)

Dave’s the rib guy. I eat them. Of course I do.  But they aren’t the passion for me they are for him.  You know these people. They all swear by the best local ribs places and even run by, bringing home a rack or two for take-out at lots of bucks a pop.  

Even at Costco, ready-to-eat barbecued ribs fly off the warmer shelves ahead of the rotisserie chicken. Now I would never order ribs for take-out. I’m more the Chicken Basil mild at the Thai joint down the street. Or sausage, mushroom, onion pizza with a big bottle of zinfandel on a cold, snowy tired night. Naturally a great Italian beef if I’m in Chicago.  Ribs? Probably not.  But if someone makes them? Well. And well again.

Early summer, I bought a 3-pack of St. Louis ribs from Costco. I separated them into single racks, wrapped them well with foil, and froze them. We’d eaten two good ol’ American BBQ sauce-style and had just one package left in the freezer.


The other day, Pike’s Peak received its first serious snow. And yes, I can see this from my front yard.

As summer waned, shorter days made their somewhat sad appearance (insert pouty lips), and evenings become chiller, the time to make slow-grill ribs grew slim. 

Below:  My winter ribs made totally in the oven.  Just in case you’re here mid-January.

I knew it was time to unthaw and make that last rack or I’d have to leave them for a winter desperation dinner–see above. Looking for something other than the tasty and happy, but ubiquitous as all hell spicy rub method, I thought:  “Why not cook them slowly without a rub? What about only salt and pepper?”  With such simple seasoning, they could then go any which way but loose on the plate. How about a few different sauces –such as BBQ (of course), Vietnamese Dipping, and Chimichurri– to splash on or dip into at the table? 

Serve with your favorite basic slaw …

Crunch, Crunch–Here’s your slaw.  It keeps in the fridge several days.

or try mine, which adds a little cilantro for zing. What else? A bowl of simple steamed, peppered rice, maybe with a little sautéed onion or garlic and fresh parsley stirred in, would fill out the meal without a nod in any particular country’s (or food style) direction so that the disparate sauces wouldn’t be problematic. No rice? Think about quickly grilled tortillas or naan to sop up extra dribs and drabs.  Plain grilled or roasted dippable asparagus, corn on the cob, and thickly sliced tomatoes are other good possibilities.  Just keep the sides simple so that they’re compatible with all three sauces. 

Everyone gets a favorite flavor with this meal and is content even though the leaves are beginning to turn and the garden is sighing and dying. Try this before summer disappears completely on a day while some sunny fall weather stretches ahead for a few hours:


serves 2-3                             Doubles or triples easily.

This whole deal can take up to four hours. Plan accordingly. The sauces–recipes below– can be made with lots of time to spare while the ribs cook.  The barbecue sauce takes about 40 minutes prep and cooking time.  The other two sauces are quite fast–chop and/or process in food processor with no stove time necessary.

  • 1 rack St. Louis pork ribs
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Canola oil
  • Barbecue Sauce  —  to serve at the table
  • Chimichurri Sauce — to serve at the table
  • Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham) — to serve at the table
  1. Set up your charcoal grill for indirect grilling.  If you’d like, soak some wood chips for 30 minutes, drain, and place on coals. Add a small pan of water in the middle of the coals right on the coal rack to keep the ribs moist while cooking.
  2. Remove membrane from ribs. (Table knife underneath and pull off firmly with a cloth.) Brush ribs with canola oil; liberally salt and pepper both sides.
  3. Grill at about 225 degrees F for three to four hours or so bone side down so until ribs are showing the ends of their bones and are chewy-tender when tasted.
  4. Let rest a few minutes, slice, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature with sauces.

Cook’s Notes:  For most tender ribs, remove ribs from grill about 30 minutes before serving.  Slice into single or double ribs, wrap well in foil, and replace on coals, cooking until done to your liking.

Need more info on grilling or grilling ribs?  Go to the Kingsford site.

Not grilling?  Try this easy slow-cooker method.

Want ribs in a hurry?  Look here.

          Thanks to Dave for always sharing his ideas about grilling on the blog.  Lucky us!



Serve these at room temperature, each in a small bowl with a tiny ladle.  Guests might appreciate a small extra plate for dipping.  You could also give each person 3 tiny bowls with sauces if you have the dish ware and the space on the table.

  1. My Barbecue Sauce recipe is here.

2. Chimichurri Sauce from  (BON APPETIT, Oct/2002)  I used only a pinch of crushed red pepper.  3/4 teaspoon is just way more than we can handle. We like a little heat to kick things up, but don’t like it to overwhelm herbs or other flavors.  Do it your way!

3. Vietnamese Dipping Sauce –also great for spring rolls and salad dressings:  I like the simple, but just about perfect sauce (or salad dressing) from Patricia Wells in her Salad as a Meal book, but also am enamored of the Mai Pham Nuoc Cham published on  You could choose either (or some other), but when I combine the best from my two favorites with a little change to boot, I am most happy:

  • 1 serrano chili, minced–quite hot– or I use just a good pinch of crushed red pepper or a 1/4 minced, seeded/deveined jalapeño if I have one(or to taste)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup each: warm water and fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon each julienned carrots,  minced green onions, and minced cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste (Start with a tiny pinch of each and add a little more as needed after tasting by dipping in a piece of carrot or a lettuce leaf.)

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and store leftovers in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

WINE/BEER/MINT ICED TEA:   Either an off-dry Riesling (Washington state, Oregon, NY, or Germany) or a plain Syrah — no red blends–probably from California. Neither will fight the heat from the Argentinian and Vietnamese sauces.   Many people might like a beer with this meal. You could choose a trappist ale or perhaps a Chinese beer, or Dave’s simple favorite for this meal:  Dos Equis.  Or pick your own because that’s what beer folks do anyway and I’m a Scotch Ale person almost always.

DESSERT:  If you’re grilling, you can also grill the last of the peaches (peel on, pitted and sliced in half) or sliced cantaloupe.  A little goat cheese with a drizzle of honey and a grind or two of black pepper are good toppings.   

PRINTABLE RECIPE:  Recipes-Pork-Ribs w 3 Sauces

Sing a peaceful fall song,


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