Ribs. My way.
This is my Weber. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My Weber is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My Weber, without me is useless. Without my Weber I am useless. I must fire my Weber true. I must grill better than my enemy who is trying to out grill me. I must out grill him before he out grills me. I will. Semper Fi.
I’ll tell you what. I never needed an excuse to BBQ ribs. Summer just makes it a bit easier.
After years of experimentation I prefer spare ribs. Baby back ribs dry out too easily and I prefer the greater meat-to-bone ratio that spare ribs bring to the party. And they also cost a lot less.
Usually the grocer wraps up the ‘tips’, a trimming that many cast aside. Not me. If you don’t mind gnawing around a bit of gristle it is very sweet meat.
Here’s my method. It’s Memphis style. The rub recipe was given to me by a co-worker a few years back. He is the son of a South Chicago rib joint pitmaster. I don’t own a pit or a fancy smoker device as seen in BBQ competitions on The Food Channel. For me the Weber kettle works just fine. But it is important to learn how to keep the heat down low and let ‘dem bones cook sloooowly. Here’s a few of my secrets.
First pour yourself a beer and make the rub.
¼ c paprika
1 ½ T fresh ground black pepper
1 ½ T brown sugar
1 ½ t celery salt
1 ½ t cayenne pepper
1 ½ t dry mustard
1 ½ t garlic powder
1 ½ t ground cumin
1 big-ass slab of spare ribs, tips included
Stir up the dry ingredients well. Apply to the ribs as generously as you wish. There is no need to “rub” the spice in to the meat. Pressing it into both sides is good enough. This rub recipe is enough for two slabs. For me, I save the extra to dust on my single slab after cooking. After applying the rub, wrap the slab(s) in foil and refrigerate four to twelve hours.
Arrange the grill with one side for coals, one side for a drip pan. The coals should go over the leg that has no wheel. This leg should face the wind. When covered, the lid vent should be over the two legs with the wheels on the opposite side. The ribs will be under the vent. This is very important for a natural low heat smoky flow.
Place the slab and tips on the upper grate over the drip pan. Add wood chips or chunks on the coals. No need to soak the wood, wet wood adds a bitter flavor to me. I think it comes from creosote that wet chips produce. I prefer and have access to sassafras wood locally. It’s my favorite. It has a sweet smoky flavor. Hickory or oak works good too. Mesquite is a no-no for pork.
Cover the Weber and allow to cook about an hour with the membrane side down side. Some will tell you to remove the membrane on the underside of the slab. I don’t. It helps hold in fat and keeps the slab tender and juicy. Besides it is a chore.
There’s the rub, now here’s the mop. While the ribs are in the Weber open another beer and make a mop sauce.
¼ c prepared yellow mustard
1c cider vinegar
Wisk the ingredients well in a glass or ceramic (non-reactive) bowl or large measuring cup.
After one hour add more coals if necessary and more wood chunks. Mop or baste the ribs with the mop sauce generously and turn, mop the membrane side as well and cover. It helps if you use a special “mop” brush found at places like Dread, Wrath and Beyond. Mop sauce doesn’t add much flavor to me, I think it just helps keep the ribs juicy and tender without burning them. Every half hour add a few more coals and wood chunks if necessary, mop, turn and repeat for a total three to four hours. During the last half-hour you may brush your favorite BBQ sauce if you wish. Adding sauce sooner will burn it.
Here I would like to put in a plug for Sweet Baby Ray’s line of BBQ sauces. It is gret for a store-bought sauce. I like Bullseye and Cattleman’s too. All are the best store-bought sauces to me. I also like Stubb’s but the family doesn’t.