Charlie Mckenna knows barbecue.
Charlie grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, where his grandmother instilled his deep love for Southern cooking. (She’s the inspiration behind the name of his Chicago restaurant, Lillie’s Q.) Although he’s hailed as a barbecue world champion with dozens of awards to his name, Charlie also finds delight in bringing small-scale ’cue to the backyard. Take his method for quick ribs: “I love all- day, slow-smoked baby back ribs, but we don’t always have the time,” Charlie says. “Starting the ribs in a foil pouch in the oven makes them ultra tender. Finishing them on the grill adds that smoky flavor and delicious crust.” Check out Lilliesq.com for Charlie’s sauces, rubs, and fully cooked pulled pork.
Good ribs start with good pork. Get to know your butcher and who they’re buying their meat from.
“Look for uniform size. This ensures the ribs cook evenly,” Charlie says. “You want both a decent thickness of meat and intermuscular fat. This will provide big-time flavor.”
“Mustard gives the rub something to adhere to. Its vinegar content goes well with pork and penetrates all layers of the meat as it cooks.”
“A rub with a decent amount of sugar pulls out pork’s natural sweetness. It’s important to season well, so don’t be afraid to coat generously.”
“Typically ribs cook low and slow— about 5 to 6 hours in a smoker. To speed up the process, I essentially steam the ribs first in a foil pouch. This also makes them super tender.”
“Finish ribs on the grill to create smoky flavor plus the char, or bark, on the outside of the meat. Brushed- on sauce caramelizes to add to that outside crust.”
MAKE IT A MEAL Get zippy coleslaws, juicy fruit salads, and even sangria recipes picked specifically as summer’s best sides.