Smoked Barbecue Pork Spare Ribs Recipe
One of the great American past times and excuses to get together for a few adult beverages is smoking meat. It is the definition of relaxing and taking it easy, especially on a warm summer day (or frigid winter afternoon as I have done in the past, but hey – I don’t discriminate against Mother Nature my friends) where you can kick back and have a few cold ones to make the time pass. It also allows people like myself to use my smoker-box (which is attached to my charcoal grill) and take advantage of an American tradition of slow cooking that few other countries celebrate like we do here in the great U-S-of-A! But there are other traditions to consider, such as males occasionally wearing USA lettered thongs in the work place (not something I would do or suggest – but I’m just sayin’!).
When it comes to pork ribs or smoking of any kind, I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m no expert, but I am an enthusiast who loves to try and smoke just about anything (on the grill that is people!!! I’m a parent now). Whether it be pork loin, pork roast, whole chickens, beef ribs, etc… I’ll give it a shot, but my favorite without a doubt is pork spare ribs. I like to let them smoke for about 5-6 hours using hickory and apple wood and just easin’ back on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I keep trying until I get it right, or until it tastes good enough that I can’t wait to do it again!
When preparing your ribs make sure to wash them thoroughly and remove the membrane from underneath the bones across the rack (I would show you a photo of that but I’m trying to encourage hunger, not nausea). Once the ribs are ready, I prepare my rub of paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, espresso, salt, black pepper, and dried thyme (you can buy a dry rub if you like but make sure it’s specific for pork). Mix all the ingredients together and then spread it generously on both sides of the ribs and rubbing into the pork. I always do this the night before to allow the rub to really sink into the meat.
To start the smoker, I use 2 chimney starters of hardwood lump charcoal and once the wood charcoal is grey, dump them into the smoker-box and add a few wood chunks and chips that have soaked over night (you might need to add more wood charcoal as the cooking progresses and you don’t want to put too many wood chunks and chips in the beginning because too much smoke will dry out the ribs quickly). Now, finally – it’s time to put the ribs on the grill! I put the ribs bone side down with a pan of water underneath the grates. Under the water, I’ve placed bricks in the grill pit, wrapped in foil to help absorb heat in the grill, while the water provides moisture for the ribs.
Maintain a temperature of 225 to 250 degrees and for the first few hours, it’s a good idea to refrain from opening your smoker-box or grill and letting the heat/smoke exit. To preserve the tenderness of the ribs, it’s important to add a “mop” to the ribs (dressing) so I like to add honey bbq sauce into a small foil pan and place on the grill. Every 30 minutes after the 3rd hour of smoking, I lather the ribs with the honey bbq sauce alternating sides (close to the 5th hour of smoking, you can also throw some corn wrapped in aluminum foil into the smoker-box for about 30 minutes – the corn comes out very succulent this way and my 2-year old loves it). Most experts, depending on the style of ribs will use an apple cider and vinegar mop during the smoking process but I like to off-set my spicy rub with a bbq sauce flavor. After about 5-6 hours, check the ribs to make sure they’re tender and use a meat thermometer to check the pork’s temperature. If the temp says 165 degrees, then you know it’s time to eat!
To go with this I’ve made Focaccia style garlic bread with fresh rosemary, basil, garlic cloves, olive oil, Reggiano Parmigiano and Pecorino Romano over fresh Ciabatta bread (you can use a French baguette as well).
Normally I might prepare some margarita’s for smoked pork ribs but there’s no replacing an ice cold beer on a hot day so crack open a Corona to go with those bad boys because you’ve earned it!
Smoked Barbecue Pork Ribs Recipe
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 5 hours
Total time: 6 hours
Yield: 6 servings
- 1 Rack of Pork Spare Ribs
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons paprika
- 3 tablespoons black pepper
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon cayanne pepper
- 1 teaspoon espresso
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 8 ounces honey bbq sauce
- Clean pork spare ribs by removing membrane and washing under sink.
- Mix all rub ingredients together within bowl (paprika, cayenne, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, espresso, and brown sugar) and generously pour and rub into ribs on both sides.
- Cover ribs in wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.
- Soak hickory and apple wood chunks overnight, then drain before use.
- Prepare smoker/grill with 2 chimney starters full of hardwood lump charcoal and when turned grey, place in smoker-box with some wood chunks. As ribs smoke, continue to add more wood chunks periodically.
- Lay pork ribs onto grill bone side down, and close grill and smoker-box for several hours maintaining a temperature of 225 to 250 degrees.
- After 3 hours, dress pork ribs with honey bbq sauce, alternating sides every 30 minutes.
- After 5-6 hours, when ribs are tender and at or near 165 degrees, take off grill and let sit for 5 minutes before cutting into strips.
- Take remaining bbq sauce from pan and dress over ribs.
- Ready to serve.
Smoked Barbecue Pork Spare Ribs recipe stars based on 20 ratings and 9 reviews.
Focaccia Style Garlic Bread
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Yield: 16 slices
- 1 loaf of ciabatta bread or French baguette
- 4 small garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil
- pinch salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Pecorino Romano
- 1 tablespoon Reggiano Parmigiano
- Slice ciabatta bread length wise and then cut into 4 large pieces.
- Lightly add olive oil to all 4 pieces.
- Chop garlic cloves, fresh basil and rosemary into very fine pieces.
- Spread garlic, basil, and rosemary across 4 ciabatta bread and season with salt and pepper.
- Grate Reggiano Parmigiano and Pecorino Romano over bread.
- Put over charcoal grill (low heat) for 5-7 minutes or place in bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes.
- Cut into thin strips and serve.