How to Make the Ultimate Grilled Ribs for Tailgating in DC

Courtesy of Dimitri Moshovitis

“One of my favorite things is watching games with my kids," says Dimitri Moshovitis. And when it comes to tailgating, he recommends ribs, which "are messy but they can feed a crowd, and the smoky, sweetness of the meat paired with good beer on brisk game day is the perfect combination.”

Grilled Ribs with Spicy Harissa BBQ Sauce

Where: Washington DCWho: Dimitri Moshovitis, Cava Grill

Ribs Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground caraway
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 full racks baby back pork ribs (about 5 to 6 pounds)

BBQ Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Aleppo
  • 1 tablespoon chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons part mace
  • 2 tablespoons celery seed

Harissa Yogurt Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Cava harissa
  • 2 containers ‘Chups Spicy Pineapple Ketchup
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup light or dark molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder


  1. To make the Harissa Yogurt: mix thoroughly, season to taste.
  2. To make barbecue sauce: Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer, whisking occasionally, until the flavors have melded and the sauce has reduced down, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to grill. Sauce can be made in advance and refrigerated.
  3. To prepare ribs: Place all of the ingredients except the ribs in a medium bowl and stir to combine; set aside.
  4. Cut 4 (24-by-12-inch) pieces of aluminum foil; set aside.
  5. Pat the ribs dry with paper towels. Remove the thin membrane attached to the underside of the ribs: Flip the ribs over so they’re bone-side up. Starting at the end of 1 rack, slide the tip of a paring knife between the membrane and the bone, then lift and cut through the membrane. Grasping the membrane with a paper towel, pull it toward the other end of the rack and completely remove it. Repeat with the second rack.
  6. Cut 1 rack in half crosswise and place the 2 pieces side by side on a sheet of foil. Repeat with the second rack and a second piece of foil. Evenly coat both sides of the ribs with the spice rub. Enclose each set of ribs in foil for 2 completely enclosed packets.
  7. Place the packets side by side on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet tightly with the remaining 2 pieces of foil. You can roast the ribs immediately, but we recommend refrigerating them for at least a few hours (and up to 24 hours).
  8. Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange a rack in the middle. (If you rubbed the ribs in advance, remove them from the refrigerator and set aside at room temperature while the oven is heating, at least 20 minutes.) Place the ribs in the oven and roast until fork-tender, about 2 hours.
  9. To grill the ribs: Heat grill to medium heat. Remove ribs from the foil, place them meaty-side up on the grill, and brush them with some of the sauce. Cover the grill and cook for 5 minutes. Flip and brush the ribs and cook another 5 minutes. Continue to cook, flipping and brushing every 5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the ribs are heated through and have grill marks, for a total grilling time of about 25 minutes.
  10. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board and cut the racks between the bones. Transfer the remaining barbecue sauce to a serving bowl and serve with the ribs.