Introduction: Amazing and Versatile Rib Rub
Create an amazing dry rib rub for barbecuing that has many other uses! This is a sweet/spicy rub that turns out a very nice glaze and bark on pork loin back ribs.
I worked on this recipe for about three years. The ingredients are common to many dry rubs. It's not so much the ingredients, but the proportions that makes this phenomenal! Throughout the months of trials (and many racks of ribs) I found that varying even 1/4 teaspoon of an ingredient can totally change the flavor profile.
This Instructable focuses on the rub recipe only (with a few surprises!) I know that many people are rigid about their barbecuing methods, so I'm not about to insist on cooking them my way. (Although it is a very effective procedure!) I will add some notes at the end about my barbecuing/smoking method. I have called it the x11 Spice Rub Recipe, implying that you can make it any spiciness you desire, even up to 911 hot! But since I've found the level I like, I'd say it's maybe a 411 level with these proportions.
Pork loin back ribs
Dark brown sugar
Step 1: Combine Ingredients in These Precise Measurements.
Based on a 32-oz bag of dark brown sugar, this will make enough for 5-8 racks of ribs. It will keep practically forever so it's nice to have some extra on hand.
1 32 oz. package dark brown sugar (= 4 cups)
1/2 cup kosher salt
3/4 cup chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground mustard
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and combine with a fork or pastry blender. (A whisk might be too flimsy.)
This recipe scales up nicely so it's ok to double or multiply the portions to make a bigger batch.
Store double-bagged in zip-top plastic storage bags. If for some reason it does get hard after storing for a long time, put a piece of fresh bread in the bag for a day or so and it will soften up.
Step 2: Prepare Ribs.
Pull the membrane off the back side of the rack (if it's there -- some racks I've bought already had it removed).
Place in a casserole dish back side up.
Step 3: Scoop, Add, and Spread.
Use 1/2 cup per side of each rack (1 cup total per rack). Spread evenly and thickly on the bottom side first. Place in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour or so until some of the meat juice is incorporated into the rub and it turns slightly darker. This will ensure it adheres to the meat after turning.
Turn over and add 1/2 cup rub to each top side, pressing firmly to adhere. At this point you can start cooking right away or keep in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.
Remember your food safety! Wash hands thoroughly after touching raw pork, and don't re-use any of the leftover sauce/marinade that is produced unless it's on this batch.
Step 4: Bar-be-cue!!!
Here's a (long) rundown of my cooking method:
To paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke:
When a distinguished but elderly cook states that his is a perfect way to cook amazing ribs, he is almost certainly right. When he states that his is the only way, he is very probably wrong.
So, I’m not going to tell you how to cook your ribs. You already have a procedure. But here’s mine anyway. In fact, it is the ultimate way I’ve found to get perfectly moist ribs with a smoky flavor, naturally enhanced with this Spice Rub. If you decide to do it differently, the results may be less than optimal. Have you ever seen the comments like this for a recipe on the net? “Your recipe sucks!!! I substituted half the ingredients and eliminated some more, and it didn’t turn out well at all!!” I’ve been through a lot of (expensive) racks of ribs to get this nailed down to the way I and my guests really like it.
When I do ribs, it is an all-afternoon event. Sure, you can make “Super-Easy 1-hour Oven Ribs!” using any of those methods found on the net, but it is guaranteed that you will not get the depth of flavor and knee-weakeningly rewarding hit of that first bite of slow-cooked ribs.
I have a grill with a separate smoker side box. I place a pan of water under the grill side, so it can evaporate and keep the ribs moist. I spritz the tops once an hour or so with undiluted fruit juice -- apple or cherry works best. I also add soaked smoking chips after the first hour or so, and charcoal as needed.
As far as temperature goes, I always strive to keep it under 225 degrees. I usually go lower than that (not above 200) and smoke a bit longer (5-6 hours). The important thing is not to let the ribs dry out (the spritzing helps with that) or to be overcooked (difficult with this method). Did you ever hear “Oh the meat is just falling off the bone!”? That means it’s been cooking too long and too much of the connective tissue has dissolved, and you have basically meat mush. Ribs should have some bite and chewiness to them and leave a clear bite mark when taking that first chomp.
Step 5: Prepare Grill and Smoker.
Start charcoal. Here I used a chimney with old yellow pages paper to get it going. With one of these, no lighter fluid is needed! When the coals are almost covered with a white ash, dump them into the smoker side of the grill.
Add water to a pan under the grill.
Step 6: Prepare Smoking Chips.
Put smoking chips in a container and cover with water. Here I'm using apple wood but cherry or mesquite is good, too.
Step 7: Place Ribs and Sauce.
Take the ribs from the casserole dish and place on foil on the grill side. (Note: if you don't have a separate smoker, put the coals on one side of the grill and the meat on another. You want indirect, low heat over a long period of time. This is barbecuing, not grilling!)
Use any extra sauce from the dish and slather it over the tops of the ribs.
Step 8: Add Chips and Smoke Away (but Wait an Hour or So First!)
Close the grill and let cook for an hour or so before doing anything else. Don't open the cover! "If you're lookin', you ain't cookin'!"
After an hour or so, check the temp (a dial thermometer inside the grill tends to be more accurate than the installed one on mine.) Add some fresh charcoal, and the chips in a smoking box. If you don't have a smoking box, place the wet chips right on the coals.
Step 9: Spritz With Fruit Juice Every So Often.
Spray with the fruit juice every once in a while to add extra moisture to the ribs and keep them from drying out. Go quickly because each time lifting the lid releases a lot of that good magic smoke. Check the coals and temperature as long as you're in there.
If you decide you want some extra sauce, while the ribs are smoking, add an equal amount of x11 Spice Rub and water to a pot. Bring to a boil (watch for boil-over!) and cook until sugar dissolves. Don't leave it on much longer or it will burn or turn into a hard candy puck.
Step 10: Plate and Enjoy!
After 4-6 hours, the ribs should be perfectly cooked. Of course, grill times and powers vary, so cook to your desired doneness. Remove to a clean dish, serve, and bask in the adulation of your guests as they enjoy the best ribs they've ever had!
Step 11: Other Uses.
I can say without reservation that this has been the most popular item I have ever made.
NOTE: If you already have the x11 Spice Rub Recipe prepared, you can just add an equal amount of dark brown sugar to it to make this recipe. (i.e. — 1/2 cup of the x11 Spice Rub Recipe + 1/2 cup brown sugar = 1 cup Bacon Candy Recipe). Use thick-cut bacon because thin cut will break apart too easily due to the stickiness of the brown sugar.
Place a baking rack over a foil-lined baking tray. Distribute thick-cut bacon slices evenly (do not overlap). Heavily sprinkle rub on both sides of bacon slices (at least 1 TBSP per side per slice). Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes to desired texture. Watch it near the end as it can go from cooked to burned very quickly! If the drippings on the foil smoke, that’s OK. Just be sure to have the hood fan on! Remove from oven, allow to cool for five minutes, then transfer to a glass or plastic plate. Don’t let it stay on the rack longer or it will stick and be difficult to remove. Don’t use paper towels or plates unless you want a paper sandwich! Save the strained, golden drippings for frying or salad dressings.
NOTE: Make your own dark brown sugar for a deeper flavor: 2 cups white sugar 1/4 cup molasses Combine the sugar and molasses until thoroughly mixed and the color is even throughout. Use as you would dark brown sugar.
Add a couple tablespoons of the recipe to canned or prepared beans. Or, add some already-cooked Bacon Candy to the beans!
Spiced Cooked Apples
Core, peel, and slice apples and place in pot with some honey and apple cider vinegar. Sprinkle x11 spice mix lightly on top. Cook over low heat until apples are translucent. Be careful when stirring because the honey gets hot! Cool before serving.
First Prize in the
Barbecue Speed Challenge