Monday, September 5, 2011

Apple Smoked Pork Ribs

These ribs are one of my favorite things to grill.  They do take a bit of time, but that is half the fun!  Additionally, this is a pretty forgiving process with a lot of room for variation.

1 Rack of Pork Spareribs
Generous Amount of Dry Rub (see below for recipe) or use a premade one.
1 Can or Bottle of Beer
Your Favorite BBQ Sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's is what we use)
Brown Sugar
Apple Juice


Dry Rub:
3 T Paprika2 T Brown Sugar
1 T Garlic Powder
1 T Onion Powder
1 t Salt
1 t Pepper

Combine these ingredients in a small container using a fork.  You can play around with amounts to suit your needs and may consider adding cayenne pepper for a bit of spice.  If you have extra left over store it with your other spices for use later as long as you don't contaminate it with the meat.

Rib Preparation:
1. Remove the thin membrane from the underside of the ribs.  It is said to give off a bitter taste, but at the very least with it removed you won't have to fight through it when you eat!  Getting this started can be difficult, but once you do it should peel off relatively easily.
2. Next rinse the ribs in cold water and pat them dry with a paper towel.
3. Apply the rub generously to the ribs and pat it into the meat.  Do this to both sides and to the ends of the ribs.
4. Refrigerate the ribs for at least an hour.  (I usually do this for several hours or overnight, but it is not imperative that you do so.)

Cooking the Ribs:
1. 3-4 hours before you plan to serve your meal, you will want to heat the oven to 275 and cook for at least an hour.  Usually I place the ribs on a foil lined cookie sheet.  I fold the foil up at the sides to make a basin to pour the can of beer in.  I then place another sheet over the top to lock in the moisture.  You could use a roasting pan too.  Cook the ribs an hour.
2. About twenty minutes before the ribs are done with the oven start your charcoal.
3. While you get your charcoal started put your wood chips, chunks, or shavings in water to soak.  (I use apple wood chips I bought at Wal-Mart or shavings from apple branches.)
4. Once your charcoal is set you will want to arrange in on one half of the grill and place one of those cheap disposable deep aluminum pans on the other half of the grill.
5. When arranging the coals I try to make a depression in the stack for the smoke box.  (You can use a smoke box designed just for this purpose ($10 at Wal-Mart) or just make a foil packet for your wood chips with holes punched in it to let out the smoke.)
6. Before transferring the ribs to the grill remove them from the oven and slather the bbq sauce all over the top of them.  (I leave them right on the foil and in the juices for this, save these juices, you need them later.)
7. Next pack generous amounts of brown sugar onto the ribs and let it soak into the sauce.  (I usually do this with a fork until the sugar appears to melt into the sauce.)
8.  Back to the grill, put your smoke box and chips or foil packet and chips onto the coals.
9. Next transfer the ribs onto the grill placing them not over the coals, but over the pan opposite the coals.  This will allow you to cook slowly with indirect heat.
10. Pour the juices from the oven cooking into the pan beneath the ribs.  Add water, more beer, or apple juice to bring the level up a bit.  This gives the meat a place to drip but also keeps it moist and adds flavor back into the meat.
11. Close the grill and orient the slots in the cover so they are above the meat and opposite the coals.  This will draw the smoke over the meat before it leaves the grill.  Be sure to open the slots slightly to get the air flowing.  (You may need to adjust the inflow slots at the bottom of your grill also.)
12. Cook the ribs here, without turning, for at least another hour.  At this point they should certainly be cooked through.  However, I would recommend cooking for more like 2 or 3 hours.  (I am planning to cook them closer to 3 hours next time to see if I can get a little more caramelization on the surface of the meat)  You do not need to turn them at all.
13. About 5 to 10 minutes before they are finished, spray a mist of apple juice over them and let them finish cooking. (This isn't vital but adds a nice touch.)
14. Once they have finished, remove them from the grill and let them stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

A Few Thoughts
- Once you have them on the grill they don't require much attention, just check periodically to make sure your fire isn't too hot and they aren't burning.
- The slight blackening is the caramelization which is full of the smokey grill flavor. 
- Again, this recipe is not an exact science and everything from making the rub to the time you cook them is up to you so long as the obvious is achieved, that they are fully cooked and that they taste great.
- I am still experimenting, but the above recipe has produced some darn good ribs!
- They are great with the usual suspects of summer like potato salad, but I would also recommend a Corn and Black Bean Salad that I will add to the blog the next time I make it and a picture is available.


~ The Moose Lodge

* Next from the Moose Lodge:  Sultan's Pleasure w/ Chicken a delicious Turkish dishCheck back soon!*

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