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I'm learning about grilling by making mistakes. The instructions on some pre-seasoned "St. Louis Ribs" say the following:

Remove ribs from package. Preheat grill to medium high. Place ribs on grill and cook on medium high for 12-15 min. Flip ribs over and cook for an additional 12-15 mins. Finish cooking ribs on indirect heat on medium high for an additional hour to hour and a half temperature should reach 175 degrees.

They seem quite clear that everything should be at "medium high" the whole time.

I thought things were going well when I flipped the ribs the first time. But when I went to flip the ribs the second time they were on fire and quite black.

ribs on a turned off grill, on fire

Oops! This is a new grill, so I'm a little unfamiliar with it, but I actually had the dials set at about the halfway marker. I would expect that to be somewhat closer to "medium" heat than "medium high". But all nuance is lost when the food catches on fire! Should I have ignored the directions and done the initial searing for less time, or at a lower temperature?

I have another rack, and I'd like to try again tomorrow. What should I adjust about these directions to prevent setting St. Louis on fire? (And even with indirect heat, is medium high the right idea for 90 minutes of cooking?)

  • The instructions only have you flipping the ribs once. Grill for 12-15 minutes, flip, grill for 12-15 minutes, then cook on indirect heat. You only needed one burner on to cook those ribs for either cooking stage. My guess is that it was flare ups that ignited your ribs, but I've never had meat catch on fire like that. – Ross Ridge Jun 7 '15 at 1:18
  • "Medium high" does not mean anything. Or rather, it means a temperature at which the ribs are getting done neither too slow nor too quick, no matter what setting this is on the grill. If you are experienced enough to recognize a "medium high" setting, you won't need to read package instructions anyway. – rumtscho Jun 7 '15 at 8:38
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    I love the fact that you took the time to take a picture while the ribs were on fire on your grill. – Federico Poloni Jun 7 '15 at 12:30
  • The grill was off, the fire was under control. Nothing to do but let it burn out. – kojiro Jun 7 '15 at 18:29
  • The best thing to do with flare-ups is to close the lid and any vents; depriving the fire of oxygen will put it out quickly. – logophobe Jun 7 '15 at 18:38
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Ribs should not be cooked with direct heat, generally. The directions on the meat are VERY defective. You should turn the left burner on, and put the ribs in the right side of the grill. You should cook at a temperature between 250-300F, typically for 4-5 hours. They're done when the meat pulls back from the bone and when you can easily tear the meat between bones, not when they hit a certain temperature.

Check out amazingribs.com, and also get your money back. The instructions on the packaging border on fraud.

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    +1, the package instructions are terrible. "Medium High" on a grill is almost meaningless, there is no standard heating capacity for grills. Medium-high on one grill could be the same heat output as medium-low on another. – Dan C Jun 7 '15 at 2:20
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    I am not sure if you're talking of pork ribs or beef ribs but I can usually get them done in less than an hour... Not burned nor rare, just yummy. – Vladimir Cravero Jun 7 '15 at 12:27

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