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Brian Bailey: Hickory-smoked ribs

8:42 AM, May 23, 2013   |    comments
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Real Smoked Pork Ribs

(Using the Indirect Grilling Method)


2 racks of pork ribs
Your favorite dry rub (recipe for Old Carolina Pork Rub below)
Your favorite finishing sauce
Wood chips, soaked for thirty minutes in water

"Traditional" home gas or charcoal grill
Aluminum foil
Small metal bowl for water.
Oven thermometer
Meat thermometer

1. For a St. Louis cut, place un-trimmed spare ribs meat-side
up on a cutting board. Cut along the line of fat at the base
of the bones to remove the "rib tips."


2. With the bone-side up, fi nesse the tip of a sharp knifeunder the membrane that covers the bones. Grip the loose membrane with a paper towel and pull the membrane off the ribs.

 3. Generously season the ribs on both sides with you favorite dry rub. Cover the ribs with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least four hours, preferably overnight.

 4. Prepare your grill for indirect cooking. Turn half of the grill off and pre-heat to 225°. (A range between 200° and 250° is acceptable.) Place a small handful of soaked wood chips in a "pouch" of aluminum foil. Punch a few holes in the foil and place the pouch directly on the heat source.

Replace the pouch with a new one every half hour for the first two hours. Directly above the heat source, fill a small metal bowl with water, refilling as it evaporates.

 5. Place your ribs on top of each other bone side to bone side on the grill side opposite of the heat source. Be sure the ends of the ribs do not overlap the heat source or they will dry and burn out. Cook for 5 to 6 hours with the lid closed, turning and rotating every hour until done.

 Three tests for doneness

• The ribs are finished cooking when the temperature of the meat reaches 170° - 175°. For an accurate measurement, insert the meat thermometer vertically between the bones.

• Another test is to hold the ribs with a set of tongs about a 1/3 of the way up the rack. If the meat starts to separate as the slab bends, they are done. If they bend without breaking, they need more cooking time.

• As the fats cook away, you will also notice the meat will pull back from the ends of the bones about a ¼ inch.

6. After cooking, allow the ribs to rest for about 20 minutes. Place them back on the grill directly over the heat source. Bring them back to temperature and then lightly sauce and grill each side for about 1 minute. This is just enough time for the sugars in the sauce to caramelize.


• Ribs can be smoked ahead of time and refrigerated for a day or two before you fi nish them over the direct grill.

(They can also be frozen for up to three months.) Bring them to room temperature before placing them on the grill and finishing as directed above.

• When you cut between the bones, you will notice a pink ring that has formed around the meat. This is a chemical reaction from the wood smoke and is commonly referred to as the "smoke ring". It is what differentiates authentic smoked barbecue from ordinary baked or boiled ribs.

• If you need to prepare more than two slabs, use a rib rack to stand up to four slabs over the indirect grilling surface.

• People like to try different sauces. When serving, cut each slab into individual bones and serve different sauces on the side.

 Old Carolina Pork Rub

4 tablespoons Paprika (Spanish or Hungarian)
2 tablespoons Cumin
2 tablespoons Ground Black Pepper
2 tablespoons Kosher Salt
2 tablespoons Sugar
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Granulated Garlic
1 tablespoon Chili Powder
1 tablespoon Cayenne Pepper


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