Wharf Southern Kitchen
Wharf Southern Kitchen Ribs - Photo Credit: Jessica Desforges

What She’s Having: Grill ‘er Up!

If you’re like nearly 70 percent of Americans, you’ll be firing up the grill for July 4, our nation’s most popular day for a barbecue. For the seasoned pros and those needing a refresher, here are some basics, cool tricks to keep your grill game strong, and recipes for my favorite dry rub, an herby steak rub, and a slappin’ BBQ sauce. If you’re not grilling but still craving that all-American Fourth of July flavor, Newport’s Wharf Southern Kitchen & Whiskey Bar shares its recipe for Southern-style, oven-braised pork ribs.

  1. Backyard fires are no joke. Preheat and clean your grill grates and grease trap before every use. Cool trick: Cut an onion in half, stick a fork in one half, and use the cut side of the onion to clean your grates.
  2. Prep your protein. When using a dry rub or marinade, pat your protein dry with paper towels before seasoning or submerging.
  3. Even cooking. Bring your proteins to room temperature before grilling.
  4. LEAVE IT ALONE. To ensure your meat doesn’t stick, put it on a hot grill and don’t move it until it says so. If you go to flip and it’s still hanging on, leave it. When it’s ready, it will lift right off. Don’t be a flip-flopper. Constantly flipping your meat leads to a dry and chewy end result. Cool trick: Instead of oil, use half of a raw, cut potato, stuck with a fork like the onion, and rub the cut side on the grates for a natural, non-stick surface.
  5. Rest is best. Other than hot dogs and flank steak (which actually toughens as it rests), let your meats rest for 5-10 minutes once you’ve pulled them from the grill to allow the juices to redistribute.
  6. Sauce timing. Wait to baste your meat with BBQ sauce until the meat is almost fully cooked. The sugar in it will burn and blacken your protein before it has a chance to cook through.

Steak Tricks

  • Apple Juice Mist: BBQ masters swear by apple juice for creating the juiciest, perfectly crusted steak. Use a spray bottle to mist both sides of the meat just before grilling. A spray bottle of vinegar is also handy for imparting a little acidity and keeping errant flames under control.
  • Ina Garten’s Method: Courtesy of Ina Garten via Lobel’s Prime Meats, heat just one side of the grill to super-hot and place a 1 ½ inch NY strip on the hot side to cook for exactly two minutes on each side. Then move the steaks to the cold side of the grill, close it, and cook for 10 minutes more for medium rare.

Burger Trick

Put an indentation with your thumb in the top of each burger and put an ice cube in it. As the first side cooks, the ice begins to melt, and when you flip it, the steam keeps the burger super moist and helps avoid overcooking. Some people also add a pat of butter over the cube.

Skewer Trick

Use a rosemary branch instead of a wooden skewer for your kebabs (especially good with beef and lamb) or use a bunch of rosemary or thyme tied to a wooden spoon as a basting mop for imparting extra flavor when you slather on the sauce.


Spice Rub

Good on everything. Make extra and keep it in your pantry. For less heat, cut the amount for cayenne and chipotle in half.

  • 2 tbl. Kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tbl. sweet paprika
  • ½ tbl. smoked paprika
  • 2 tbl. brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. chipotle powder
  • 2 tsp. ancho or other mild chile powder
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. oregano

Put all ingredients into a jar and shake.

Herby Steak Rub

Works beautifully for chicken and pork as well, but it’s killer on red meat.

  • 1 tbl. each of finely chopped fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme
  • ½ tbl. Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. black pepper

Mix and rub.

Tangy Barbecue Sauce

Make it a day ahead. For basting, add an additional two tbls. cider vinegar.

  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. Ancho chile powder
  • 2 ½ cups ketchup
  • ½ cup of mustard (Gulden’s Spicy Brown if possible)
  • ¼ cup of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. Tabasco
  • ¼ cup steak sauce (optional)

Sauté onion and garlic over medium heat, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add dry spices, stir for 30 seconds, then add liquids. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning, then put in the refrigerator overnight.

Wharf Southern Kitchen Braised BBQ Pork Ribs

Serves 6 with sides

  • 4 racks of ribs
  • 4 tablespoons creole spice blend or Cajun spice
  • 2 tablespoons mesquite seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons Wharf Southern Kitchen bourbon BBQ sauce (use your favorite BBQ sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 cup organic apple cider
  • 5 cups of water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pull the silver skin from the rib racks and set aside. Whisk all remaining ingredients except water together in a large mixing bowl, rub down the ribs on both sides with the mixture, and lay out on sheet pans to bring to room temperature.

Layer the ribs in a large roasting pan and cover with 5 cups water. Tightly wrap pan with foil and cook for 3 hours. Pull out ribs and break into desired portion size. Plate with more warm BBQ sauce if desired and pickled red onions and/or chives. Retain some braising liquid to use with leftover pulled meat for sandwiches the next day!




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