Since so many people like my brisket instructable, I decided to put one on here for the ribs that we did. We ended up smoking three racks of ribs using hickory and apple wood. The total time for the ribs was 4 hours at 225 degrees. We used pork spareribs that were cut St. Louis style. This just means that the rib tips were cut off to make the ribs more uniform. This is purely for presentation and looks because it was a competition (the rib tips are actually delicious and we cooked them as a snack the night before).
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Step 1: Simple Tools
Just like in my brisket instructable, my BBQ team decided to do the entire competition with what we could fit in a minivan. We used our Dyna-Glo smoker and the wood chips and pork spareribs that were bought at Wal-Mart.
Step 2: Preparation
First thing to do is cut open the packaging and drain all the blood. After than, go ahead and rinse off the ribs and pat them dry with some paper towels; this allows the rub to better adhere to the meat. After the ribs are dried off, look over them and trim away any blatantly excess fat or extra meat (the extra meat is usually going to be on the bone side and it will look like a strip). Now for the tricky part, removing the membrane on the bone side, it looks like a thin layer of film or skin with a silver/shiny tint to it. Sometimes it comes off really well (we got lucky on ours, as you can see in some of the pictures, it came off in one piece). The easiest way to do this is to take your knife and peel up one side and then put your fingers under it to separate it from the meat; do this until you can grab it with your hand and pull back gently until it all comes off. Removing this allows for better smoke and rub penetration and also makes the finished product better to eat because it won't be chewy.
Step 3: Flavoring
Next it is time to get the rub on the ribs. Our rub consisted of a commercial rib rub as a base and then we add a little (very little) cinnamon and brown sugar, some ancho powder or paprika to help with the color, black pepper, garlic powder, and some other spices. Basically, the flavor profile we were going for was just a little sweet with a nice fruit (usually apple) flavor and some heat that shows up on the back end (usually obtained through cheyanne or jalapeno powder). A trick to remember is that if you make your rub and it ends up being too spicy, put some more garlic powder in there and that will help bring the heat back down. Just as with the brisket, flavor to your taste; here in Texas I use the flavor profile stated above. In other parts of the country, you will need to have a thicker dry rub (Memphis) or you may be more inclined to use a tomato/bbq sauce based glaze. After the rub is on, wrap the ribs in saran wrap and then aluminum foil to sit for a couple hours in a cooler.
Step 4: Cooking and the Finished Product
For the first two hours that the ribs were on the smoker (bone side down the entire time), they were sprayed with an apple juice and apple cider mixture to keep them moist; apply this every 30 to 45 minutes. After two hours, the ribs had enough smoke so we took them off. When you get ready to wrap the ribs in foil, place them on the foil and put some of the spray over them as well as any additional rub and some butter. Some people use squeeze butter but I prefer the real thing. After you add your juice and butter, finish wrapping the ribs and place back on the smoker for another two hours or until the temperature reaches about 190 degrees; this temperature is needed to render the fat on the ribs and keep them moist. Ribs do not require a rest time like brisket does, so when it is done, take it off and slice it up. With this process and flavor profile, we ended up taking 5th this past weekend. Not too bad for the minivan experiment.
Sorry, about the lack of final product pictures; turn in for ribs was between chicken and brisket and so much was going on. I will be smoking some more ribs this week to try some new flavors so I'll get some other ups. If there is any other meat that you'd like to see, leave a comment; me and my team constantly cook meat and other outside foods.