When you first venture into the world of charcoal grilling, it can be quite a daunting task. The fact of the matter is that while grilling with charcoal produces the most flavorful results, it can be challenging.
Getting your fire started, getting the coals hot, controlling the temperature, and knowing how long to grill your food are all challenges you will face when using a charcoal grill.
One of the best foods to grill over charcoal is pork ribs. Ribs are a real delicacy, and when made right, they result in tender, succulent, and fall-off-the-bone meat that you can flavor with dry rubs, sauces, or marinades.
Ribs aren’t easy to cook, and getting them to the point where they fall off the bone without burning them is a bit difficult.
Cooking ribs on a charcoal grill fast is possible, but you need to follow the right steps, all of which we are about to outline below.
Low and Slow vs. High and Fast – The Problem of Ribs
Before we talk about how to cook your ribs fast, we should look at the issue of cooking ribs fast. The problem is that ribs take a long time to cook properly, and most people will tell you that the only way to cook ribs is low and slow.
Rib meat is very tough; it is very fibrous, and it takes a long time to break those fibers down. When you cook ribs low and slow, it gives those fibers plenty of time to break down, resulting in tender meat.
However, if you cook ribs high and fast, although the meat might technically be cooked, you won’t have allowed those fibers enough time to break down, and this results in tough meat that doesn’t fall off the bone.
Nothing is worse than expecting tender ribs and getting what amounts to rubbery and chewy meat.
This is an issue that you need to consider when it comes to charcoal grilling ribs fast.
If you just pop raw ribs on a charcoal grill for 20 minutes, although the meat might be safe to eat, it won’t be tender and juicy, and this is where our guide comes into play.
How to Cook Ribs on a Charcoal Grill Fast
If you follow the steps that we are about to discuss, you should be able to achieve super-tender and juicy ribs, even when grilling at a high heat on a charcoal grill.
1. You Have to Boil Them First
The issue of those fibers breaking down over a long period is not going to disappear.
You need to take care of this first, and if you don’t plan on grilling your ribs low and slow, you should first boil the ribs.
You need to break down those fibers one way or another, and if you don’t do it via low and slow grilling, you’ll have to do it via boiling.
We found that creating a brine using 2 gallons of water, a cup of vinegar, a cup of sugar, a cup or two of brown sugar (depending on your sweetness preference), a couple of tablespoons of pepper and salt each, a bay leaf or two, and maybe a bit of cayenne pepper, chili, and paprika works best to start your ribs.
Bring the brine to a boil, insert the ribs, and then let them simmer for 90 to 120 minutes. They don’t need to boil hard just simmer and this will break those fibers down.
2. Now You Can Grill
Those ribs should be cooked 100% through, and they should already be falling off the bone. At this point, you can use a dry rub and a BBQ sauce to season the ribs and to get them ready for the final cooking step.
Now it is time to stoke the grill. Fill the chamber with a moderate amount of charcoal and get them all white-hot. You want the grill temperature to be relatively high, so keep the vents open most of the way.
You want a medium-high heat here, high enough to cook fast and caramelize your BBQ sauce, but not so high that your sugary BBQ sauce burns.
With medium-high heat, grill the ribs for a total of 20 minutes, 10 minutes on each side.
You can flip them every 5 minutes to keep an eye on them. If you like your ribs extra saucy and crispy, slap on a second layer of BBQ sauce halfway through grilling and crank up the heat, which should produce perfect ribs without having to grill them for 3 to 4 hours.
If you follow the steps we discussed, you should produce succulent, tender, and juicy ribs without having to stand over a burning hot grill for 4 hours.