Make ribs, not war: Super Bowl party at Mediation Channel

Super Bowl 2008During my first year of blogging, I posted “Breaking bread: Could sharing food foster cooperation between parties in mediation?“, a story from Deltona, Florida, about a failed mediation involving a land dispute. An ingenious Deltona resident had an inspired idea: why not settle differences instead over a plate of barbecue? But I suggested taking things one step further: mediate and eat barbecue.

I still think it’s a great idea.

The Super Bowl is this Sunday, and football means barbecue. (Baseball means barbecue, too, but we’ll revisit that on Opening Day.) In the interests of encouraging Patriots fans and Giants fans to put aside their differences and come together, here’s my recipe for grilled baby back ribs.


2 racks of baby back ribs

For the dry rub

  • 4 tblsp. sweet paprika
  • 2 tblsp. chili powder
  • 2 tblsp. ground cumin seeds
  • 2 tblsp. ground fennel seeds
  • 2 tblsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tblsp. white sugar
  • 2 tblsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tblsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tblsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 – 2 tsp. chipotle chili pepper or hot Hungarian paprika (depending on your tolerance for heat)


Put all ingredients into a plastic lidded container, close lid, and shake until well blended. Store in fridge for up to 2 months.

Four hours before you start your fire, rub the dry rub on the ribs. Place on a baking sheet covered with plastic wrap and place in fridge. One hour before you plan to put the ribs on the grill, remove from fridge and let stand at room temperature.

I use a 22 1/2 inch Weber kettle grill for these ribs. If you’re using a gas grill, you’re on your own here, but you’ll be grilling these using indirect heat using a covered grill. Build a charcoal fire, and promise me that you’ll use a large charcoal chimney, not lighter fluid, to light your charcoal.

Fill a large chimney with coals and allow to burn until covered with a light layer of white ash. When the coals are ready, pile them up on either side of the grill with a drip pan in the middle filled with the contents of a bottle of beer (domestic or imported, it’s up to you). Put the cooking grate in place, cover the grill, making sure the vents are open, and let the grill heat for about 5 minutes. Place the ribs on the grate, cover, and cook for 2 hours. You may need to replenish the charcoal halfway through, but resist the temptation to lift the lid and check otherwise.

Now here’s the important part. Remove the ribs from the heat, wrap up tightly in one large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil, then fold up in a large, heavy bath towel and leave the ribs to rest at room temperature for 45 minutes to a full hour.

Unwrap, brush with the barbecue sauce of your choice if you want (or enjoy the smoky pork goodness all on its own), cut the ribs, and serve. Feeds 4.

(Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Best Recipe Grilling & Barbecuing.)

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