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Friday, July 19, 2013

Slow Smoked Barbecue Spare Ribs

The sunshine, the outdoors, the grill, the fire and smoke, the patience, the discipline, the testosterone, the unmitigated voracity, the carnivorous high. It's a spectacle without comparison, equal parts meditation and mayhem, an affirmation of masculinity and gluttony and meat. It's a veritable manstravaganza (doesn't that sound like some rugged fun?)! I'm providing less a precise recipe here than a lengthy set of superficial instructions (no instructional photos), basically a description of what I like to do/has worked for me. No one taught me how to grill. I just do it. Because I'm a man.

Barbecue Spare Ribs

2 racks pork spare ribs (trimmed St. Louis style)
Basic Barbecue Rub
Homemade Barbecue Sauce
hardwood charcoal (briquettes or lump)
green or soaked wood for smoking (green limbs from an apple tree cut to 3 inch lengths are my preference)*

First thing you need to do is light your grill. Realize that this is going to be at bare minimum about a five or six hour process with at least a four hour cook time. So light that grill now! You have time while your coals ash over to do some prep.The ribs you can get trimmed St. Louis style for you at the butcher or if your feeling dangerous, you can buy full racks and hack at them yourself. Even if you've had them trimmed, you're probably going to have to get your hands dirty taking the membrane off the back. Note: the membrane is very tough when cooked (we may be tough, but we like our ribs tender). Now rub those ribs like you mean business.

When the coals are good and ashed over, spread them out into one half the of the kettle and drop a couple handfuls of wood directly on the them before you put the actual grill in place. Put your ribs on the grill opposite the coals and lid it. Close the vents on the grill to less than half open (on the lid and the bottom if you've got 'em).

In half an hour or so, pop the lid and take a look. Rearrange the ribs to make sure they're cooking evenly and peak in at the coals to make sure they aren't going out (adjust the vents if they need more oxygen or if it seems like they're burning too fast). Check the ribs this way every hour or so for the next three to four hours and add more wood and charcoal as needed.

When the ribs are looking just about done, generally in the last hour or two of cooking (it's an imprecise science), we're ready for the sauce. Use a sauce mop, pastry brush, or the back of a spoon, whatever works. Apply as much or as little as you like to both sides. I do a thin layer and serve my ribs with a bowl of sauce on the side so people can apply as much as they want to their own.

After another hour or so take 'em off the grill, cut 'em up and make an obscene, barbarous, gluttonous, glorious mess.

*The nice thing about green apple limbs is that they'll slip through the space between the bars of the grill so you don't have to lift the grill up to add more when it's loaded with meat.

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