Phil's International Flair

Welcome to Seasoned Cooking and to Phil's International Flair!

Having reviewed my archives, I realized that I have never published one of the recipes that I am famous for preparing - BBQ Pork Ribs. These are a hit with family members, friends, and even acquaintences who are invited to an event that I happen to be cooking at.

I would like to give you a little history on how the sauce I use was developed. Years ago while attending college in San Luis Obispo, California, I found a little restaurant called Mamma Joe's and Pappa T's. Mamma Joe was a rather large black woman and her husband was a skinny black man who did nearly all of the cooking. One day when I went in there I noticed pork ribs on the menu, one of my favorites. The price was about $3.95 for the meal that included bread, beans, slaw and fried potatoes. I ordered the dinner and was overwhelmed by the quantity of food that was presented to me, not to mention the flavor of the ribs with a yummy sauce on them. I ended up taking the leftovers home for a second meal, and I become determined to replicate that BBQ sauce. I never did get it quite right, but I got close (see the May 1998 column). Unfortunately, Mamma Joe and Pappa T retired from the restaurant business, but from what I understand, several years ago they still cooked occasionally for church events and charities. My compliments to these wonderful chefs and the quality of the food they prepare.

Since I published Phil's BBQ Sauce in the May 1998 column, I have refined my recipe for the sauce to some degree. Primarily, I now make the sauce in much larger quantities and have proportioned the ingredients accordingly. In addition, I now add some black bean sauce and/or plum sauce to the recipe for variety. However, if you follow the basic instructions in the published recipe, you should be pretty pleased with the results. Hopefully, you may soon be able to buy my sauce online. I have selected the name Grill Mate Gourmet for my sauce. You may also be able to find it in your local market if all goes well. Now, on to the recipe!

BBQ Pork Ribs

The choice of meat is very important. I prefer the baby back ribs, however they are on the pricey side. Alternately, select a slab or two of the St. Louis style cut ribs. These are larger and my second preference for a good BBQ. Country cut boneless ribs are very meaty and cost less, however they do tend to have more fat. If the ribs you purchase have a lot of fat, trim to your liking but leave a little fat to improve the flavor. Too much fat may make the fire flare up resulting in a burned product.

I prepare the ribs by cutting half way down between the bones on the thick end. This allows the heat to penetrate the meat for thorough cooking. In addition, if the slabs are too large for the grill, I cut them in half so they will fit more easily. See the attached photo.

Some people say you should boil the ribs for an hour before putting them on the grill. I find this unnecessary, and most of the flavor and nutrients from the meat will go down the drain with the juice that is likely discarded. If you do prefer to precook the ribs, do so in a pressure cooker with a small amount of water or beer for about 20 to 25 minutes at 15 pounds pressure. Then cook the ribs on a grill and apply BBQ sauce on both sides about 15 minutes before removing them from the grill, turning once or twice and applying more sauce so that the sauce forms a glaze on the meat, but is not burnt. You can also broil them in the oven if you prefer. Smoke baking ribs is my preferred method. That is, I bake them over indirect heat (not directly over the coals or heat source) in my smoker at a medium temperature for about 90 minutes to 2 hours. I prefer a mild smoke from oak, mesquite, apple or alder. Too much smoke with overpower the flavor of the meat, so use wood chips sparingly as you would use a spice or herb in a spaghetti sauce.

Now, if I don't have time to smoke bake the ribs, I simply grill the ribs covered for about 45 minutes before applying the sauce. I then cook for an additional 15 minutes, turning frequently and applying more sauce with each turn before removing from the grill.

After smoke baking, I apply the BBQ sauce and place the ribs directly over the coals to grill and carmelize the sauce, turning several times and applying more sauce after each turn. Once the sauce is carmelized and very slightly charred, remove the ribs from the grill, cut, apply a final layer of sauce and serve immediately or place in a preheated oven at 250 degrees to keep warm until you are ready to serve. I like to serve the ribs with fresh corn on the cob, green salad or cole slaw, and beans.


  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 2 hours