I know I’m straying again. But I happen to love good barbecue. My sons got me a Char-Broil Offset Smoker American Gourmet Deluxe Charcoal Grill for father’s day a number of years ago and I’ve been smoking ribs, salmon, brisket and chicken ever since.
The first summer I had the smoker my boys, who were both living with me at the time, couldn’t stand another barbecue rib. I was smoking every weekend, experimenting with different rubs, woods and smoking times and techniques. They were my lab rats. By the end of the summer, when they smelled the pungent aroma of hickory smoke, they both took off and disappeared for the day.
I’ll never forget the time I put out smoked barbecue ribs for my family one weekend during a party. In addition to the ribs I had baked ziti, sausage and peppers, chicken with lemon and garlic, so the barbecue ribs were a change of pace for my family. Thought I’d give them something they never had before.
I might as well have put out sushi for them.
Those of you who know good barbecue realize that the red ring on the meat is an indication that it was smoked properly. Pork tends to turn red when it’s smoked for a long time. It’s thoroughly cooked, but the chemical reaction from the smoke turns the meat red. I should have realized that giving my Italian family anything that resembles a little pink in their pork is like asking them to swallow a cyanide capsule.
It didn’t dawn on me, even after seeing everyone’s rib on their plate with only one bite in it. Of course everyone was too polite to actually tell me that they thought my spare ribs were raw. My sister-in-law Lillian was sitting next to my mother and leaned over and whispered in her ear, “don’t eat the spare ribs, they’re raw”.
I”m going to be kind here….but…they really should get out more and try new things.
After years of experimenting I came up with this recipe for barbecue pork ribs. The only special equipment you will need is a smoker. Smokers come in all sizes, depending on your needs. My smoker looks like a 50 gallon barrel on its side with a chimney on top. On its side is a smaller chamber which is the fire-box. That way the meat you are smoking gets indirect heat and plenty of smoke. I smoke my ribs for about 4 hours. I use the smoke like an ingredient. For me, 4 hours of smoke is enough. I then finish my ribs wrapped in foil in a 200 degree oven for another 2 hours till they are fall off the bone tender.
Smoked Barbecue Pork Ribs
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon celery salt
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon oregano
Combine all the above ingredients in a medium bowl. For a smoother rub you can puree the ingredients in a spice grinder or coffee grinder until well combined and all the spices are uniform. The rub will be very fine and tan in color. This is an optional step.
This rub can be stored in an airtight container for up to 6 months if you have any left over.
The night before you plan on smoking your ribs, remove the silver skin from the back of the ribs.
Cut the lemon in half and rub the half over one rack of ribs on both sides, squeezing the juice of the lemon over the ribs. Do the same with the other lemon half on the second rack of ribs.
Rub the ribs on both sides liberally with the spice rub. Place about 2 tablespoons of the spice rub on each side of the ribs and rub it in good.
Cut each rack in half and place the two halves in a large zip lock bag. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
When you’re ready to smoke the ribs build a charcoal fire in your fire-box or on one side of your barbecue grill.
When the coals are white-hot take the ribs out of the zip lock bags and place them bone side down on your cooking grate at the opposite end from where your fire is. You want to cook them with indirect heat.
Place a good couple of hand fulls of your water-soaked wood chips on top of the white-hot coals and close the lid on the grill. In addition to hickory wood chips I use branches I saved from my fruit tree pruning. I use apple wood, pear wood, peach and plum wood as well. Whatever I have at the time.
Do not open the grill to check the ribs. Add more wood chips as needed to keep the smoke up. The temperature inside the grill should hold at 200 degrees. Adjust the damper and chimney flue to keep the fire at that temperature Allow the ribs to smoke for at least 3 hours, up to 4 hours.
After the smoking time, lift the cover of your smoker and take out the ribs.
Place in a large piece of heavy-duty or double lined regular foil and seal it tightly. Place the foil packets in a 200 degree oven for at least another 2 hours.
You will know your ribs are done when the meat pulls away from the end of the rack exposing about 1/2 to 1 inch of the bone. You can serve the ribs just as is, the dry rub adds tons of flavor. Or you can mop up the ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce and grill them till the sauce carmelizes.
When you finish your ribs in the foil you can cool them down from that point , unopened, and place them in the refrigerator to use within the next couple of days. When you’re ready to eat the ribs just take them out of the foil and grill as they are or with your favorite barbecue sauce.