Cooking with the dean

July 2nd, 2014

If you don’t mind the heat, get out of the kitchen with this summer smokin’ ribs recipe.

What better way to celebrate our country’s independence than with an All-American cookout? Dr. Lawrence Wolinsky adapts this family favorite from its West Coast environs. In place of California red oak, opt for mesquite wood chunks — cooking with them is practically a ritual in the Lone Star State — so they’re easy to find at grocery stores and specialty barbecue retailers.

So go ahead, gather up the ingredients, and while you’re at it, friends and family. The backyard – and your grill — will become the center point of the party this July 4th.

Baby back ribs


  • 2 racks of baby back pork ribs
  • Rub:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground oregano
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • olive oil

(Recipe from Dad’s Home Cooking, 2012)


Rinse the ribs in cold water, and pat dry. Mix the ingredients for the rub, and rub onto the ribs. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Start a barbecue pit with mesquite wood (or any wood of your choice), and allow the fire to mature for 30 minutes. Lower the grill to approximately 4 inches from the flame, and grill the ribs for about 15 minutes on each side, watching and turning frequently to prevent burning.

If the ribs begin to burn, raise the grill or cover with foil.

Yields 2 to 4 servings.

Barbecue Pit Basics:

The barbecue pit is a large metal box on a stand with a grill that can be raised manually with a winding wire.

“Cooking procedure for different types of barbecue pits should be adjusted to your personal preference,” Wolinsky says. “The idea is to start with a hot fire, sear the ribs, and cook at a lower temperature for 45 minutes or until done. If you like Kansas City style ribs, use a wet mop during the last five to 10 minutes of cooking.”


“Be prepared for multiple neighbors coming over to check out the wonderful aroma,” Wolinsky says.

Look for more recipes from Dean Wolinsky, who — lucky for us — doesn’t just have a background in dentistry and periodontology. A doctorate in synthetic organic chemistry complements his lifelong love for the culinary arts, and here at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry, we get to reap the benefits.

— Jennifer Fuentes