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Barbecued Ribs

August 3, 2012

Holy smokes!  These ribs are amazing.  Finger licking, wish you made more, cravably delicious.  I recommend you make these this weekend.  If your calendar isn’t accomodating, make them next weekend.

For many years (as in 17) I only ate poultry.  I still don’t eat beef or other red meat, but two or three years ago I started eating pork again and quickly learned to love the flavor.  We typically stick to pork chops, loin or tenderloin but with summer in full force, I wanted to make ribs.  Conrad loves ribs so it wasn’t hard to convince him and he loves an excuse to use his smoker.

First, you make a flavorful rub and let the ribs sit overnight covered in the rub.  Then you smoke the ribs for several hours on the grill at a low temperature which makes for very tender meat.  For the last half hour or hour of cooking, you coat the ribs in a sweet, spicy, tangy barbecue sauce.  Sure, the ribs take hours to cook but it’s mostly unattended time so you can do chores around the house, sunbathe in the yard, or drink beer while staring at the smoker.  Trust me, the time is worthwhile once you bite into these yummy ribs.

If you don’t have a smoker, you can still make these on a charcoal grill.  Instructions are here

The recipe calls for two to four racks of ribs.  We made one rack which was a big, BIG mistake.  Clearly we weren’t thinking because we thought one rack would feed the two of us and we’d have leftovers.  Next time, we’ll make at least two racks and probably four so we can have ample leftovers, including some to freeze. If you want to halve the recipe, make the full rub recipe and reserve some in a jar for future use on pork chops or chicken breasts. The barbecue sauce will also keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks.  (I used the leftover barbecue sauce a few times on grilled chicken breasts and it was fantastic.)

Served with corn on the cob, coleslaw and extra napkins this is the perfect summer meal to enjoy with good friends and family.  Do not attempt ribs with acquaintences, your boss or a first date!

Kansas City Barbecued Ribs
adapted from Fine Cooking
serves 4 to 8

2 to 4 slabs of baby back ribs

Spice Rub
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup seasoned salt
2 tablespoons garlic salt
1 tablespoon onion salt (I used shallot salt from Penzeys)
1 1/2 teaspoons celery salt
1/4 cup sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
a pinch of ground cloves

Barbecue Sauce
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups ketchup

The night before you want to smoke the ribs, make the rub. Combine all rub ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine, pressing out any clumps. Remove the membrane from the ribs by slitting at one end with a knife and pulling off. Discard. Sprinkle spice rub generously over each side of the slabs. Put on a platter, sprinkling any extra rub over the top and side of the meat and refrigerate overnight. Take ribs out of the fridge about 30 minutes before placing them on the grill so they come to room temperature.

To prepare the fire, light a medium pile of charcoal. Wait until the coals are hot and add a few pieces of wood that you’ve soaked in water for a few minutes (applewood, hickory or mesquite all work well…use whichever you prefer). You don’t need a huge pile of coals because you are creating a slow heat. Once the smoker is around 225ºF, put the ribs in the smoker. Maintain smoking temperature around 225º by opening vents and adding charcoal as needed for about one hour per pound of ribs.

While the ribs are cooking, make the barbecue sauce. Add all the sauce ingredients in a medium or large saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring to combine and dissolve the spices. Reduce heat to low and simmer the sauce, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Our stove runs hot but be careful for splatters – I had a mess to clean on our backsplash.)

After about 2 1/2 hours you can turn the ribs over (we forgot to do this and they turned out great). You can also mop the ribs with barbecue sauce during the last half hour to hour of cooking. Pour some barbecue sauce into a small bowl to avoid contamination and brush or spoon over both sides or just the top of the ribs. Otherwise, serve all of the sauce on the side. Ribs are ready when they separate easily, after about four hours smoking total.

Remove ribs from the grill and let rest, covered with foil, for 10 minutes. Cut into individual ribs and serve hot with the extra barbecue sauce on the side.

The ribs go on the grill. See the rub?

The smoke zone.

Spoon barbecue sauce on for the last half hour of cooking.


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