Combine all ingredients for the rub in a plastic bag or tightly lidded container. Be sure there are no clumps of brown sugar and that spices are well distributed and combined. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the rub for the sauce. (If only using enough rub for fewer than 4 racks of ribs, separate amount of rub you will need so as not to contaminate what is left over. You may store additional rub mixture in a sealed container or zip top bag for further use – it works very well on pork chops or chicken.).
Remove membrane from the underside of ribs. This can be easily done by using a paring knife to loosen one edge of the membrane and then, using paper towel to grab the membrane, pull it off. Rinse off ribs and pat dry with paper towels. Apply remaining rub on both sides of ribs. Wrap the ribs plastic or use an extra large food grade zip top bag. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours or at least 3 hours.
30 minutes before being ready to put ribs on grill, remove them from refrigerator and allow them to come closer to room temperature. On a gas grill set flame so that the temperature with the grill lid closed is 200-250°F Place water in a small aluminum pan (I use a loaf pan) on one side of the grill. This will allow a moist heat to penetrate the meat and allow for more moistness. Don’t allow the water to evaporate completely. If you can use wood chips to smoke the meat with your grill, this is the time to get the chips smoking.
Place ribs on the grill bone side down and leave them on the grill for 11/2 to 3 hours at this temperature (depending upon how much time you have and how tender you want the meat). I try to turn the ribs about every 30-40 minutes. It will be necessary to turn the ribs at least once. This is actually something that you need to see when it’s time to do. Check your ribs periodically to be sure that they are not getting charred and that your grill is not too hot. Depending upon your grill, you may have to turn the ribs more often to avoid hot spots or flame ups. If you haven’t already done so, at about the 2 hour point, you’ll need to turn the ribs over. Allow them an additional 1 1/2 - 2 hours on the grill depending upon your time schedule. The more time they are done low and slow, the more tender they will become.
(If you can’t or don’t want to grill the ribs, heat oven to 250°F Place ribs on a wire rack on top of a jelly roll pan. Place water in the bottom of the pan so that it does not come up to the rack. Use foil to tightly wrap the entire pan. Bake in oven for 3-4 hours.).
While grilling the ribs, mix all ingredients for the sauce in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Add 2 tablespoons of reserved spices and add to the sauce mixture. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
If you prefer, mop the some of the sauce onto the ribs in the last 10 minutes of grilling. Leave the rest of the sauce so that guests can add their own sauce according to their tastes.
Upon removing ribs from the grill, cut them into smaller sections or individual ribs (usually they’re ready to fall apart). Serve immediately to a very happy crowd.