Grilling Ribs, Grilling Corn. You Can Do It!

Our hero, hard at work over the hot grill. Thank God for Gin & Tonics!

It’s the time of year when we need to fire up the grill and enjoy some great outdoor cooking!

It seems like that’s what all of my classes are this time of year at any rate… This month, at Sur La Table alone, I’ll be teaching 6 courses on the topic of grilling! And what better way to make sure I know what I’m talking about, than by honing up my skills at a grilling cook-out with friends?

The menu was quite simple – we wanted ribs and corn – both of which are specialties of mine on the grill. But before we get there, let me share with you a few grilling basics.

First and foremost – you must keep your grill CLEAN! I’m really serious about this. Nobody gets out of one of my grilling classes without being a stickler for a clean grill grate. The reason for this is simple: I don’t want to eat whatever has been sitting out on the grill – stuck on there in the hot sun for who-knows-how-long – when I’m eating my ribs! Scrape down your grill before you cook and after you cook. 2 cleanings for every 1 time you put food on the grill. No exceptions.

MMMM…. ribs.

The next trick is that your grill should be set up as a two-zone fire almost every time you cook. That means if you have a charcoal grill, you would push most of the coals to one side, or if you have a gas grill, you’d turn some burners way up, while others would only be at about half-temperature. The reason for this is, we want to sear the food at first when it goes on, but then move it to the less hot zone to finish cooking slowly – without burning the outside of the food. For example, in this photo, you can see, the ribs, with beautiful grill marks, are finishing up on the cooler side, while the corn is just getting started on the hot side.

And that brings us to two of the things that people seem to have the most trouble grilling: Ribs and Corn.

First off, ribs. Ribs tend to overcook on the grill because of the large number of bones in there keeping the meat raw in the middle while burnt on the outside. My way of getting around this is to steam the ribs before putting them on the grill. Put the ribs on a roasting rack in a roasting pan with a few cups of apple cider in the bottom, and cover with foil. Steam them for about 20-30 minutes, and then take them out. Rub in your favorite BBQ rub lightly, and then grill, meat side down on the hot side of the grill to give yourself some nice grill marks. Flip them, and move them to the cool side, and put on more rub and/or BBQ sauce. The grilling time will be about 15 minutes total, which is great, as that is about the time other things take too.

If you don’t think your corn should look like this coming off the grill, don’t bother grilling it. Yum!

As for grilling corn, I’ve seen a lot of techniques and I’ve tried them all. Corn should br grilled with the husk, but not in it. Pull back the husk, and tie it off with one of the inner leaves of the husk. Soak the cobs in water for about an hour, and then place them on the grill with the cobs on the hot side, and the husks pointed towards the cool side. Close the lid, and cook until you start getting some lovely caramelization on the side that’s down. Turn, and repeat until the corn has this nice browning all over. (It’s good to have a spray bottle of water on hand should the husks flare up…)

So there you have it! Awesome ribs, and perfect corn! Get out there and enjoy the summer while you can, and enjoy the fruits of your grilling labor. Me, I’m off to teach more people how to do exactly this, and the best part of all – I get them to do the grilling for me!

Love my job!

Chef Matt

P.S. Here are some more photos from my cookout with my friends Michelle and Brendan. Brendan was nice enough to take all these photos for me.

Michelle (left), my fiance, Susan, and myself sitting down to an awesome grilled meal!

Brendan’s contribution: Grilled tomatoes. Fresh with basil and oregano from his herb garden, these were really great!

The meal finished, with only one rib left, I enjoy the company of the lovely Susan as always!

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2 Responses to “Grilling Ribs, Grilling Corn. You Can Do It!”

  1. scottAD says:


    My wife and I took one of your classes and we had a great time! I am interested in taking a few more, especially the knife skills class… and I stumbled upon this video of a knife maker for chefs. Should I bring a knife like this to class? =)

    • Chef Matt says:

      That’s great that you want to take a knife skills class – a very important class for anyone who wants to become even semi-serious about cooking. Good knife skills will save you time, save you money, increase safety and will even make your food taste better! I teach knife skills through Fairfax County Adult and community education:

      So keep your eyes open there for a class coming up this September 29th. (I think online registration for this begins July 22.)

      And thanks for sharing that video – that was really interesting! And please do bring one of those knives! That would be great! 🙂