Saturday, July 14, 2012

July 4 BBQ - Smoked Pork Spareribs

This is one of several dishes I made for our annual feast this year which I'll shortly be adding to the blog. I'll note when they're posted so that you can look for the others here if you like this one.

This is one of my favorite meals to make. Usually a friend holds the July 4 BBQ but since they were under a lot of time constraints this year, we volunteered to make the feast. 
I like adventure in the kitchen as much as anyone, especially when trying new dishes. However, this is one dish I pretty much stick to what works for me. I first got this from Steven Raichlen's book How To Grill and, although I'm sure there's lots of ways to do this that are least as good, it will take a lot for me to ever risk much deviation from it.

Rack of pork spareribs

Starting the membrane peeling process

Trimmed St. Louis style

In pre-marinade bath of apple cider and lemon juice

Getting the bath treatment

Ribs, meet grill - grill, meet ribs. You guys will be spending a bit of time together today.

I've been using a vertical rack for years - just have to make sure there's something under it to pick up the juices

What better way to spend the Fourth?

I think these next few photos speak for themselves

The past couple of years I've gone out of my way and spared little expense to get my ribs from Becker Lane as they sell them from heritage breeds which typically has the kind of pork, i.e. with lots of fat, that I grew up with many years ago before producers bred pigs pretending pork should have less fat than an anorexic chicken. Apparently BL has become so popular that the prices and availability of their products are dear and hard to find now so, not being able to find any, I went with the best I could get, which still was pretty damn good.
Important to note here as well that this was smoked on a Big Green Egg which has completely and utterly spoiled me for life when it comes to barbecue, smoking, and grilling food. If you love to cook outdoors and have never heard of the Big Green Egg, take some time to do a little research on it as you may be missing out on a thrill of a lifetime, it's that good of a cooking tool.

2 full racks of pork spareribs
6 cups apple cider
juice of 2 whole lemons
BBQ dry rub

Put the ribs on a cutting board backside up in order to remove the gossamer-thin membrane from the back. I use a small metal pick to get under it and use a paper towel to grab it, pulling it back and off of the meat.
Next, there are two steps of preparation for this that can take 2-4 hours prior to the cooking which of itself will typically take about 3 hours - so about 5-7 hours in total.
Clean the ribs under running water then add to a pan with the cider and lemon juice. Put the pan covered in the refrigerator to sit for 1-2 hours turning a few times. Remove from the frig, drain the juices and pat dry the ribs and dry the pan.

Coat the ribs by hand with your favorite dry rub, put them back in the pan and the pan back in frig covered for another 1-2 hours. With about 30-45 minutes before the marinade time is done, start the fire in order to get it to a constant 210-215F. I use chunk hardwood with a good amount of hickory chunks for the smoke flavor.

When ready to smoke the ribs, remove the pan from the frig and arrange the ribs on a vertical rack.

I usually leave the fatter side facing up but not sure if it really matters. On the Egg I use the plate setter which is a large ceramic piece that sits between the fire and the grill top preventing the heat from making direct contact with the food, effectively turning the Egg into an convection oven. Under the grill and on top of the plate setter I put a pan lined with foil so that the juices from the meat doesn't drip all over the plate setter. 

Close the grill and maintain the temperature as close to 210-215F as much as possible.

Raichlen recommends spraying apple cider or water on the ribs during the cooking to keep them moist but the Egg doesn't need that kind of help so I don't do it.

I find that the cooking time is between 2 1/2 to 3 hours - you can tell when it is time when the meat starts to retreat from the end of the bones. Remove from the heat and cover with foil until carving, at least 15 minutes so that the meat can rest. If it will be more than 15 minutes, put the ribs in a warm (140F) oven until time to carve and serve.

Carve the ribs along the bones and dress with your favorite BBQ sauce at the table.

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