Ribs have been a favorite of mine since childhood. I watched my dad carefully cook the ribs “low and slow”. I fell in love with ribs at a young age. Since that time I have graduated from a gas grill, to a barrel smoker, and eventually to my hand built gravity fed charcoal cabinet smoker.
While this recipe suggests using a smoker, the most important part of cooking ribs is good temperature control. If you don’t have a smoker, you can make these on a Weber Kettle or in a gas grill (with wood chips for smoke). You can even use your kitchen oven. While you won’t get that great smoke, but cooking at the right temperature ensures the “lip-smacking goodness” of a great pork spare rib.
Your target temperature for cooking ribs should be 225° - 250°F.
Makes about 12 servings. If you have a big smoker, scale this recipe up.
- 4 Racks of St. Louis Pork Spare Ribs with silver skin removed.
- 8 lemons, cut in half
- 1 quart of apple cider
- 12 tablespoons of Prancing Pig BBQ Rub
- Prancing Pig Spiced Bourbon BBQ Sauce
Note: It is very important to remove the sliver skin on the back side of the ribs. First, you don’t want to chew on that skin. It isn’t pleasant and it gets caught in your teeth. Second, removing this skin will allow the rub flavor and smoke to move more easily into the meat. Lastly, if you do not remove the skin, the ribs will curl. If you don’t know how to remove, watch this video:
Large non-reactive container
- Stainless or food grade plastic
- Large enough to hold the ribs and cider
- When making very large batch, I use a cooler.
Large, heavy duty aluminum foil
Optional: Vacuum Sealer with bags: large enough for the cooked racks of ribs.
This recipe is a three day process, but it is worth it. If you use a vacuum sealer after smoking, the ribs will travel well to your next cookout.
Two Days before Serving
- In your container, place your first rack of ribs. Squeeze two whole lemons (4 halves) over this rack, concentrating mostly on the meat side of the rib. Repeat this for each rack.
- Pour cider over ribs just enough to cover.
- Let this stand in your refrigerator or cooler for at least 8 hours. I usually do this in the evening and begin cooking the next day.
One Day before Serving
- Remove the ribs from the liquid and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Reserve the liquid to be used later in the cooking process.
- Apply 3 tablespoons of rub to each rack of ribs. Two tablespoons on the meat side and one on the bone side. Let ribs stand in refrigerator for two to four hours
- Meanwhile, preheat your smoker, grill or oven to a target temperature of 225 - 250. Add a large drip pan with some water at the bottom of the cooking chamber.
- Place ribs on a rack in the smoker or oven, above the drip pan. Close the door and let them cook.
- Every 45-60 minutes, use the reserved marinade to “mop” the ribs. I use a small food mop to gently add liquid (without removing the rub).
- If you are cooking around 225°F, at about the 4 hour mark, the meat on ribs will have pulled back, showing about one-quarter inch of the bone. At this point, wrap the ribs tightly in aluminum foil. I usually put two racks in each foil pack.
- Let the ribs cook another 45 to 60 minutes at the same temperature, never above 250°F.
- Remove the foil packets and let these cool for about an hour. You can open the top of the packet a bit to help speed up the cooling.
- After cool enough to handle, I vacuum seal the racks of ribs and put them into the refrigerator. Vacuum sealing makes it easy to put the ribs in a cooler and take them to a cookout. Alternatively, wrap them tightly in aluminum foil. Refrigerate overnight.
The day of the feast
- When ready to serve, cut the racks into single ribs. Place ribs on grill, cut side down until you begin to get grill marks.
- Flip the ribs and coat with Prancing Pig Spiced Bourbon BBQ Sauce. Continue to grill and coat ribs in sauce until ribs are hot and there is slight blackening of the ribs. Watch the ribs carefully: there is a fine line between blackening and burnt!