Ditalini and I love pork spareribs. Full slab, St. Louis style, Kansas City style, baby back, they’re all good. In an earlier entry, I offered an easy recipe for dry-rubbed baby back ribs that are first cooked in the oven and then finished off on the barbecue grill. This time I’ll describe something a bit more ambitious: pork spareribs cooked from scratch in a smoker.
pork spareribs (for this cooking method we recommend full slab, St. Louis, or Kansas City style, but not baby back)
dry rub (Corky’s, Rendezvous, home made, etc)
wood chips for smoking (mesquite or hickory)
barbecue sauce (whatever kind you like; our favorite is this stuff)
Four or five days before cooking, prepare the ribs. Place ribs meat side down and remove the white membrane from the back side of the ribs, or cut the membrane between each rib with a sharp knife (they say you can work up a corner of the membrane with a sharp knife and then pull the rest of it off, but that never works for me, and I always wind up cutting the membrane between each rib, which works just as well). Coat ribs liberally with dry rub; wrap in aluminum foil and store in refrigerator.
On cooking day, remove the ribs from the refrigerator and let them return to room temperature. Soak wood chips in water. Prepare the smoker (we use a Weber Smoky Mountain Cooker). When the charcoal’s ready, add water to the basin inside the smoker, put the ribs on a rack, cover the smoker, and sprinkle wood chips on the charcoal through the access door. About once an hour, open the door and add a few fresh charcoal briquets and wood chips. After about two hours, open the cover and add more water to the water basin.
The ribs are done when the meat begins to pull away from the ends of the rib bones. If you’re nervous about relying on your own them-ribs-is-cooked instinct, you can check them with a meat thermometer (160-170 degrees F, being careful not to touch a bone with the thermometer). Total cooking time should be four to six hours.
Serve with anything barbecuish: corn on the cob, potato salad, baked beans, etc.
Dry-rubbed ribs just going on the smoker
Smoker (note the access door), spare charcoal, wood chips
Finished ribs (note how the meat is pulling back from the bones)