Ribs are a staple in any Barbeque restaurant that’s worth eating in. Ribs come in all different forms and sizes depending on the cut, the type of rib, and the animal the rib is from. For this article we will be looking at St. Louis style pork spare ribs. The St. Louis style of rib simply means that the meat just above the end of the ribs is all trimmed off by the butcher. The butcher trimming the ribs gives you an easy to work with product that cooks easier and is easier to cut after the ribs are cooked.
Any BBQ worth eating can’t be made quickly, it has to be cooked low and slow. The lower heat allows the entire piece of meat to cook evenly throughout and since it is on a lower temperature, it needs longer to cook. The longer cooking time lets the meat get tenderized and most of the fat to melt and just flavor the meat.
While there are all types of grills and smokers out there, each with their own pros and cons, I personally use a Traeger grill for my BBQ and grilling needs. I find Traeger grills allow me to get a good amount of smoky flavor on the meat without overpowering them. Any time you follow this recipe it will result in good ribs, even if you put them in the oven. If you do have to use the oven add just a bit of liquid smoke to the top and bottom of the rack for a little artificial smoke flavor.
To start the recipe you will need a rack of St. Louis-style spare ribs, these can be found in the meat section of most grocery stores or a local butcher. When you are picking out a rack try to look for ones where the bones are very straight and there is a good amount of fat throughout. The bones being straight will make the finished product look better after they’ve been cooked and cut. The fat throughout will allow for an even cook on the entire rack.
Now that we have the basics on what kind of ribs to look for we need to list out the ingredients:
• Olive Oil
• Your favorite BBQ Rub
• Apple Juice
• Brown Sugar
• Tin Foil
• Your favorite BBQ Sauce
• Salt & Pepper
Next are the step by step instructions for delicious ribs:
1. Remove the Membrane on the Back of the Rack.
On the bottom of the rack of ribs is a membrane that is not only tough to chew, but stops the rubs or flavors from penetrating past that membrane. There are numerous videos on YouTube about removing membranes, but if you take a knife and make a cut on the back of ribs you will find what looks like loose skin, that is the membrane. Get a bit of the membrane loose and then with a paper towel (for grip) grab the membrane and peel it back. If there is small pieces of that don’t want to come up that’s okay just take a knife and make several cuts in the membrane so rub can get through.
2. Wash the Rack Off
Run the ribs under cool water to get all of the excess blood and fluids off.
3. Spread the Olive Oil
You can also use yellow mustard for this step, the oil is just there as a binding agent for the rub. Make sure to cover the whole rack including the edges.
4. Put Your BBQ Rub on the Entire Rack
Make sure to give the ribs a generous coat of rub that doesn’t have any blank spots. Do not forget to rub down the back and all the edges.
5. Let the Rack sit for Thirty Minutes
This is an optional step that some people do to let the ribs warm up a little from the refrigerated state and to let the rub soak in a little.
6. Set your Grill to 225 Degrees Fahrenheit
Use the thirty minutes of setting time to set up your grill and get it to the temperature you want.
7. Place Your Ribs Meat Side Up on the Grill for Three Hours
Place the side that appears face up in the grocery store face up on the grill.
8. Use Apple Juice on the Ribs
If you have an empty spray bottle you can use that, if not use a spoon or something you can put small amounts of apple juice on the top of the ribs without making a mess. Do this every forty-five minutes.
9. Take the Rack Off and Add Brown Sugar, Honey, and Butter
With oven safe mitts or a clean towel take the rack off the grill and onto a sterile surface that you don’t mind getting messy. Lay out a sheet of tin foil long enough to fold over the ribs. Sprinkle a few clumps of brown sugar over the top of the ribs. Next squeeze honey in a diagonal pattern over the top of the ribs. Finally use either spray butter or cut a few thin slices of butter over the top of the meat. After that flip the rack and do the same with the top side before you wrap the ribs in tin foil. When wrapping with tin foil make sure that if you have any gaps or holes that they are on the bone side of the rack.
10. Place the Rack Back onto the Grill Meat Side down for One Hour
This time we want the entire new flavor we added to soak down into the meat of the ribs. This is why it is so important that if you do have gaps in the tin foil that they are away from the meat side so all the juice from the ribs don’t spill into the grill and make a huge mess.
11. Take the Rack off the Grill and Unwrap Them
Once again bring the ribs to a clean surface and unwrap the ribs.
12. Add a thin layer of BBQ Sauce to Your Ribs
Here we want to almost “paint” a layer of BBQ sauce onto both sides of the ribs before putting them back onto the grill meat side up.
13. Leave the Ribs on the Grill for Thirty Minutes
We want the sauce to caramelize a little, but we don’t want to leave them on there too long or the sauce will burn.
14. Do a Pull Test
All that this means is that if you grab the edge of an individual rib it feels like you could just pull it out if you wanted to. Do not actually pull it out.
15. Let Them Sit For Twenty Minutes
Some people say to let them sit for ten minutes some say thirty or more, but I find that twenty minutes is plenty of time.
16. Cut the Rack into Individual Ribs
An electric knife is extremely helpful here. The ribs should be easy to cut without an electric knife, but it makes the process easier. Simply cut in between each rib to produce around twelve single ribs.
17. Eat Your Ribs
All that’s left now is to chow down! Your ribs shouldn’t fall off the bone, but should produce a perfect bite mark wherever you bite into them!