Introduction: Smoked Thai Spare Ribs With Bourbon-Peanut Butter Glaze

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I wanted to do something a little different than the normal chili-powder-based dry rub that I usually use on ribs. I've been on a Thai kick recently -- these continue the trend. They are spicy without being hot, and the smokey bourbon complements the hickory flavor.

Note that this will work fine on baby back ribs as well as spare ribs -- just cook for 30-45 minutes less.

Step 1: Prep the Marinade

The Wet:

  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Siracha
  • .25 cup Chinese cooking Wine
  • .25 cup rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons seasame oil
  • 4 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil (not pictured, oops)
  • .25 cup honey
  • .5 cup crunchy peanut butter (if you only have smooth, but can grab raw peanuts, see for directions)
  • Juice from 1 large or 2 small limes (the ones you zested, below)

The Dry:

  • Zest from 1 large or 2 small limes
  • 4 scallions, minced
  • .5 cup cilantro, stemmed, minced
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • .25 cup roasted peanuts, chopped (if you aren't already using crunchy peanut butter)

Step 2: Clean the Ribs

On the back of the ribs there is a semi-transparent membrane cover that acts like a bouncer for any spices that might want to get in touch with the rib. It needs to go.

With a sharp knife, make a cut at one end of the membrane, then grab it with a paper towel and pull it off like shucking corn. If you're lucky and/or good, it will all come off in one piece. If not, keep working. The second pic shows the desired end result.

Step 3: Bag It Up

Put the ribs into a 2-gallon ziploc baggie, and pour the marinade in with it. Remove as much air as you can and seal the bag. Now check and make sure that the bag is *really* completely sealed. Really. Trust me.

Start working the marinade into the ribs, rubbing the outside of the bag, making sure everything is hit. Do this for 4-5 minutes. Arrange things in the bag so that the maximum amount of surface area is exposed to the marinade, and then stick the bag into the refrigerator for a minimum of one hour, up to a maximum of six. I think the marinade is too strong to leave overnight, YMMV.

Step 4: Smokin'

One hour before you are going to be done marinading, start bringing the smoker up to temperature -- 225 degrees F (107 degrees C). If you are using solid wood smoking chips (I used hickory), put them in some water to soak at this point as well. When done marinading, put them in the smoker, shut the door, and don't bother them for 3 hours 30 minutes (other than to refresh the smoking chips).

Step 5: Glaze

Over low heat mix together:

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon olive, vegetable, or sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Siracha
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (I prefer smooth at this point)

Contrary to popular myth, you don't want to continually baste ribs (or anything else) that is taking many hours to cook -- at least if the glaze/sauce has any significant amount of sugar, which most bbq sauces do, including this glaze. The long, slow cooking will burn the sugar, not a great flavor. If you have an extra spray bottle you *could* spray it down with bourbon regularly, but I prefer to just keep the smoker closed for the first 3.5 hours.

After 3.5 hours, baste the ribs with the glaze.

Do it again 15 minutes later at the 3:45 mark.

Do it one final time at 4:00 hours

Pull them out at 4:15.

Step 6: Rest and Ready

Let them rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes, then dig in!