Roasting meat on a stick held over an open flame is probably the most primitive cooking method we have. Cooking methods have evolved along with our vocabulary, since our cave-dwelling days, and now “spit roasting,” or "rotisserie grilling," is available to home cooks via modern gas, charcoal or electric grills with rotating skewers. Anything that can be speared can be cooked on a rotisserie, but meat is typically the go-to ingredient. Ribs are regular guests at backyard barbecues and pork spare ribs can be grilled in about 2 to 3 hours. A dry rub is recommended, but barbecue sauce is optional.
Preparing the Ribs
Select pork spare ribs that are grayish-pink and firm with a relatively small amount of surface fat and some marbling.
Insert a butter knife or the tip of a meat thermometer into the thin membrane along the back of the rack of ribs. Start in the center of the rack. Securely grip the rack with a dish towel or paper towel and peel off the membrane.
Mix seasoning herbs and spices in a mixing bowl. Break up any lumps with your fingers. Sprinkle the mixture over both sides of the ribs and press into the meat with your fingers.
Set the ribs aside to rest at room temperature for one hour before grilling. Wrap the ribs in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to maximize flavor. Remove from refrigerator one hour before cooking.
Weave the rotisserie skewer through the ribs starting between the first and second bones. Weave the skewer through every fifth bone and between the last two ribs. Secure the skewer with the spit forks. Set ribs aside.
Grilling the Ribs
Set up the rotisserie grill according to instructions. Set to indirect, medium heat at 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the drip pan in center of the grill, so that it is under the ribs. Place the skewer on the grill’s rotisserie attachments. Turn on the motor and open the air vents. Close the grill.
Cook the ribs for approximately 2 to 3 hours or until the meat begins to pull away from the end of the bones and is fork-tender. Insert a meat thermometer into the ribs. The internal temperature should be 145 F. Brush the ribs with barbecue sauce, if you like, and allow the ribs to cook for 2 or 3 additional minutes.
Remove the spit from grill and put on your grilling gloves. Remove the skewer from the ribs. Set the ribs aside and allow them to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
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- If you are using a gas grill, preheat grill on high for 15 minutes. Reduce the first and last burners to medium and turn off other burners. If you are using a charcoal grill, place charcoal inside coal chimney to three-quarters full. Light the charcoal and allow it to burn until outside is ash. Put on your grilling gloves and pour charcoal from the chimney into piles on either side of the grate. Close the air vents. Allow the temperature in the grill to cool to 250 F. If using an electric grill, set on rotisserie setting and low, indirect heat.
- Avoid high or direct heat when grilling pork spare ribs to avoid charring the ribs. Ribs should be cooked slowly over low heat to ensure the meat is cooked thoroughly all the way to the bone.
- The U.S.D.A. advises all pork products, including spare ribs, be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 F and be allowed to rest for a minimum of 3 minutes before slicing or eating. Consuming undercooked pork increases your risk of ingesting bacteria and parasites that can cause diseases.
KW Schumer is an award-winning newspaper editor, reporter and writer with more than 15 years of experience working for large, mid-sized and community newspaper companies. She also writes the food blog Chef HJ's Table with her husband, a professional chef and the director and chef-instructor of a culinary school.