The best seasoning to put on ribs to achieve flavorful, fall-off-the-bone tender bites isn’t a liquid sauce or a marinade. It’s all in the rub baby, a homemade dry rub made from spices and herbs you probably have sitting in your pantry right now.
When I was a novice rib cooker, I thought you cooked ribs just like a steak or a hamburger—you simply put the uncooked ribs in the oven or on the grill, then slathered them with bbq sauce to cook until they were just cooked through. What resulted from that bonehead technique was ribs that were flavorlesss, tough, and in the end were scorched to a burnt crisp thanks to the sugars in the barbecue sauce.
What I didn’t know is ribs need time…low and slow cooking time in the oven or in the smoker to break down those tough fibers and tenderize. I also learned (and as any award winning rib pit master knows) the key to great ribs is a generous rub of seasonings that soak into and permeate the meat, drawing out the moisture to tenderize and add flavor over several hours—or even days—of refrigerated marinating time.
Dry rub recipes created by those pit masters are more closely guarded than their social security numbers. My husband came up with this dry rub combination years ago and dubbed it his “magic dust”. While he’s no pit master, it is his secret to the best barbecue baby back ribs and seasoning chicken, pork chops, steaks or other cuts of beef.
He’s never been good at keeping secrets, so now his magic dust recipe is about to become your secret ingredient, too.