Photo: Hector Sanchez

Memphis native and Test Kitchen veteran Pam Lolley was the victor in our Test Kitchen ribs smackdown. The best part about her smoky, sweet ribs recipe? You can cheat these babies in the oven. We love the oven method because wrapping the ribs in heavy duty foil will keep the ribs moist with no need to baste. And, oven temperature is easier to control than grill temperature so you can forget about monitoring your grill and turn your attention to which cold brew to sip or side dish to serve with your ribs.

The Oven Cheat Method 2 (2 1/2- to 3-lb.) slabs St. Louis-style pork ribs Smoky Dry Rub Rib Braising Liquid Sweet-and-Spicy Barbecue Sauce

1) Rinse slabs, and pat dry. Remove thin membrane from back of each slab by slicing into it and pulling it off. (This will make ribs more tender.) Rub both sides of slabs with Smoky Dry Rub (about 3 to 4 Tbsp. per slab), pressing gently to adhere. Wrap each slab in plastic wrap, and chill 8 to 12 hours.

2) Preheat oven to 350°. Remove plastic wrap from slabs. Wrap each slab, meat side down, in heavy-duty aluminum foil.

3) Bake foil-wrapped slabs, meat sides down, on a large baking sheet at 350° for 1 hour. Unwrap slabs, and pour Rib Braising Liquid over them. Rewrap slabs in foil, and bake l more hour.

4) Remove slabs from oven, unwrap, and discard foil. Cool slabs 30 minutes.

5) Position oven rack 10 inches from heat. Increase oven temperature to broil. Brush Sweet-and-Spicy Barbecue Sauce on both sides of each slab.

6) Broil slabs, meat sides up, on baking sheet 10 inches from heat 5 to 6 minutes or until ribs are caramelized.

Smoky Dry Rub Stir together 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. smoked paprika, 1 Tbsp. kosher salt, 2 tsp. garlic salt, 2 tsp. chili powder, 2 tsp. ground black pepper, 1 tsp. onion salt, 1 tsp. celery salt, 1 tsp. ground red pepper, and 1 tsp. ground cumin. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 month. Makes 1/2 cup

Rib Braising Liquid Stir together 1 cup apple juice, 1 Tbsp. Smoky Dry Rub, 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar, and 1 minced garlic clove. Chill in an airtight container up to 1 week. Makes 1 cup

Sweet-and-Spicy Barbecue Sauce Sauté 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, and 1 seeded and minced jalapeño pepper in 1 Tbsp. hot olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in 1 (32-oz.) bottle ketchup (such as Heinz), 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup apple juice, 1/2 cup honey, 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, 1 tsp. celery seeds, and 1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 month. Makes 5 cups

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