Ribs with Sweet Potato Fries

Chances are you’ve been cooking ribs wrong your whole life. Let’s fix that. You can use baby back ribs (žebra z pečeně), but spareribs (žebra z boku) are fattier, juicier, and more flavorful. Even better is if you can get your butcher to leave a layer of belly meat attached like we do.

Use applewood or cherrywood chips and a charcoal grill for best results. A gas grill works too, or toss them in the oven in your kitchen, although you’ll miss out on the smokey flavors.

One annoying part about cooking ribs is that using a thermometer is tricky. The bones and fat pockets skew the readings. It’s a great chance to practice testing for doneness with your other senses!


Makes 6 servings


  • Wood chips (only if cooking on an outdoor grill)
  • Butcher’s paper or heavy duty aluminum foil
  1. Prepare your grill for indirect cooking at about 110-130°C.
  2. Remove the membrane from the bone side of the ribs by peeling off a corner with a sharp paring knife, grasping the membrane with a paper towel, and peeling it off.
  3. Apply the vinegar/mustard mix to both sides of the ribs and then generously sprinkle on the pork rub. It should completely cover the meat with no bare spots. The more meat there is on the bones, the more rub you should use.
  4. Leaving the ribs in the fridge overnight is nice, because the salt penetrates deeply and functions as a dry brine, and the other spices tack up into a nice layer, but it’s not totally necessary.
  5. Drop your wood chips directly on the heat source of the grill and place the ribs in the grill on the opposite side so that they’re not exposed to direct heat. Close the lid, stabilize the temperature, and then don’t touch it for 3 hours.

    A note about technique: The goal of this step here is to pump the meat full of smoke flavor, which only gets absorbed while the internal temperature of the meat is below 70°C-ish, and to create the crispy, crunchy exterior layer called the bark, which is a combination of caramelized sugar and proteins undergoing the Maillard reaction, plus a little bit of combustion gasses accumulating on the surface. Get more smoke flavor and a more pronounced smoke ring by bringing the ribs straight from the fridge to the grill. This increases the amount of time that it spends in the smoke absorption temperature range. Unlike with steaks, you don’t want to bring the meat to room temperature first.

  6. Meanwhile, heat up the BBQ sauce in a small saucepan and whisk in the cold, cubed butter to make a glaze.
  7. Preheat your oven to 120°C, toss the sweet potatoes in a few glugs (that’s the technical term) of cooking oil, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast them until al dente. You want them cooked through but not mushy yet. Set them aside when finished.
  8. After 3 hours, start checking the ribs every 20-30 minutes. When the exterior is dark and crispy, pull them out.
  9. Place each rack of ribs on a large sheet of butcher’s paper or heavy aluminum foil. Pour a little of the BBQ glaze over the meat and wrap it up.
  10. Return the wrapped ribs to the grill and continue cooking at 110-130°C. Very thin baby back ribs might only need 15-20 minutes, but thicker spareribs will need a couple hours.

    A note about technique: during this step, the goal is to take the ribs to what I call “BBQ degree of doneness” and what others call fork-tender. This is around 95°C, so much more cooked than a well-done steak, for example. The most important part of this process is the conversion of collagen to gelatin, which only happens ABOVE 70°C (contrast that with the smoke absorption temperature range) and doesn’t happen instantly, so don’t rush this step.

  11. When the ribs are done, remove them from the grill and let them rest for 20-30 minutes.
    How do you know when the ribs are done? Use our 3 tests, and remember that each rack will cook differently and needs to be checked individually.

    1. Pick up a rack of ribs on the ends and bend it into an upside-down U shape. The bark should crack visibly. If it just bends, it’s not ready.
    2. Look at the bones. They should be much more visible than in the beginning, and should ALMOST be able to rotate in the meat. If they rotate freely, it’s overcooked.
    3. Pinch the meat between the bones. Do your fingers go through with no resistance? Overcooked. Do they meet a firm, unyielding layer of meat in the middle? Not done yet.
  12. Increase the grill temperature to maximum and set it up for direct heat. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C.
  13. Return the sweet potatoes to the oven and roast, turning them occasionally, until they’re crispy and brown on the outside. Throw them back into the large bowl and toss them with our Cajun Spice Mix to taste. Put them on a big platter with Ranch dressing on the side.
  14. Unwrap the ribs, brush them with more of the BBQ glaze, and return them to the grill over direct heat until the glaze has reduced and started bubbling.
  15. Serve everything together with pickles, bread, hot peppers, and maybe some coleslaw or potato salad. And of course lots of beer!