Friday, January 21, 2011

Rubbin' n Ribbin': Pork Spare Ribs

My first three cooks all occurred during the first weekend of getting the egg operational.  A week later and I was still drunk with excitement (and maybe still a little drunk from NYE) about my new toy.  At this point, MBH informs me we are going to have guests over for a Saturday night dinner, a perfect chance for me to fire up the grill and show off my newly discovered talents.  MBH quickly brought me back down to earth.  One of our guest is the head chef at a hunting resort in (on?) Sea Island. Time to step up my game!

Since the first successful pork butt I was dying to do a little more pig action.  So on the way home from work on Friday I grabbed two slabs of spare ribs "St. Louis" style from the Buford Highway Farmers Market (love that place).  (FUN FACT: St. Louis style ribs are prepared by cutting through the cartilage near the ends of the ribs.  This meat that is trimmed away is called rib tips. The ribs are more rectangular in shape making them easier to cook).  In general, the fattier nature of spare ribs are more forgiving when cooking making them easier than baby backs.  For my first rib cook I decided that easier and forgiving were the way to go.  For seasoning the ribs I also picked up two types of rub.  One was the same Grillmates pork rub I used on the butt and the other was a Grillmates Applewood rub.

I pulled off the membrane from each slab and rubbed each in one of the rubs mentioned above. (If you do not remove the membrane, it is hard to get the ribs as tender as they should be)  I cut each slab into two and wrapped all four pieces in saran wrap and placed them back in the fridge.

The cooking method i decided to employ was the 3-1-1 method I had often read about.  For this, I brought the egg up to 250º and let it sit for a few minutes to make sure the temp was locked in.  I dropped in 2 handfuls of soaked hickory chips and placed the plate setter in legs up for indirect heat.  I placed the grate on top of the plate setter legs with a drip pan on top.  I then used the same V-rack I used for the butt only this time inverted so it was more of a Lambda rack.  I placed the ribs in the slots standing up so that I would not have to bother with flipping them. (The setup is somewhat visible in the image below.  I will try to get better about taking setup pics.)  I cooked the ribs like this with apples juice in the drip pan for 3hours.  I then pulled the ribs and wrapped them in foil with apple juice and placed back on for an hour.  At this point the ribs are super juicy and falling off the bone.  I pulled them off unwrapped and threw them back on for one more hour to firm them back up. I re-wrapped them in foil and let them rest in a cooler with towels until it was time to eat.

Ribs are done when the meat begins to pull away from the bone.  In my case, the rib meat was already pulling back from the bone after the original three hours.  For this reason, I think I would try to keep my temperature around 225º for future cooks.  Regardless, the ribs were extraordinary.  Some of the best I have ever had.  The applewood rubbed ribs were slightly better than the pork rub ribs.  Our friends seemed to enjoy them and the chef even went back for seconds. VICTORY!

Ribs finished up.  I had already removed one of the slabs.


  1. I like spare ribs a little better because they are larger. More meat = More smiles.

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