Saturday, July 23, 2016


How do you do ribs? I’ve got two ways to grill spareribs, and I can’t quite decide which I like best. When the whole family was here, I prepared several racks of ribs with an American-style barbecue sauce. This week I did ribs in a classic Spanish adobo marinade.

Ribs and vegetables grilling over coals.

American-style barbecue sauce is tomato-based with a balance of sugar and vinegar. It’s painted on the ribs after they are completely cooked. The sugar in the sauce creates a crusty glaze. I pre-cook the ribs early in the day by simmering them in water with salt, peppercorns, vinegar, sliced onion and celery until they are fork tender.

Benjamin and Daniel tend the grill for a family get-together. Ribs are finished with American-style barbecue sauce.

The Spanish way with ribs starts with a tangy, herby marinade (no sugar). Then the ribs are slow-cooked over coals (or in a wood-fired oven), turning and basting occasionally, until they are tender, about one hour. No sauce is needed.

Adobo marinade for spareribs.

I’m grilling over charcoal made from encina, holm oak, which produces very hot-burning coals. Obviously, grilling times will vary, depending on the size of your pieces of meat and the type of grill you’re using.

I grilled eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onions and tomatoes on the grill and used them to make a wonderful side dish, escalivada (that recipe is here).

Ribs and wings have been marinated before grilling.

Juicy ribs, a grilled potato and escalivada, grilled vegetables with olive oil.

Sliced tomatoes, cukes and a bean salad complete the meal on the grill.

Escalivada contains grilled peppers, onions, eggplant, zucchini and tomato.

My (American-style) Barbecue Sauce for Ribs

Nobody noticed that I used apricot jam instead of brown sugar. In deference to kids' tastes, I left out the dose of cayenne. I don’t even bother to simmer the sauce. Mix and it’s ready to slather on ribs to finish on the grill. They’re done when the sauce is nicely browned, about 10 minutes per side.

This makes enough sauce for 2 racks of ribs.

1 cup ketchup
½ cup apricot jam
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked pimentón (paprika)
Cayenne (optional)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients.

Marinated Grilled Pork Ribs
Costillar de Cerdo Adobado a la Parilla

This recipe makes enough marinade for two racks of ribs, or one rack of ribs and a pound of wings or a whole chicken. 

Herbs for adobo marinade.
1-2 racks of ribs
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup vinegar
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon thyme
½ tablespoon rosemary
½ cup coarsely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon pimentón (paprika), smoked or unsmoked
12 cloves garlic
¼ cup olive oil

Place the ribs in a large pan or tray.

Place remaining ingredients in a blender and process until fairly smooth. You can thin with a little water, if desired.

Spread the marinade on both sides of the ribs. (If you wish, save some of the marinade to use as a spoon-on sauce after the ribs are cooked.) Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

Grill racks of ribs slowly over coals or, covered, on indirect heat on a gas grill, turning and basting occasionally until fork, tender.

Nico and a platter of ribs.


  1. Enjoyed the picture of Benjamin and Daniel. I remember them when they were little boys! Patty

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