Rib-tastic results and a definite crowd pleaser. I've been getting pretty good at the baby backs on the cheapo vertical Brinkman so I decided to try out some St. Louis style spare ribs for a change of pace. Stop and Shop had a end-cap freezer full of St. Louis ribs for $2.49/lb a few weeks back so I grabbed two racks and threw them in the freezer. I decided to smoke them (and my last reserve of baby backs) for my brother's birthday on Labor day. Only problem, the party was at my parents house so I had to start the smoke nice and early then prep for transport and finishing on the grill. Technique worked well, so I figured I would share.
Started with two racks of St. Louis Ribs and a rack of baby backs. St. Louis in the back, baby backs up front. Unlike Costco, Stop and Shop does not remove the membrane, so ripped the membranes off and got to work.
I had two rubs prepared (a basic rub from America's Test Kitchen, and Wild Willy's One-derful Rub from the Smoke and Spice cookbook). I went with the ATK recipe 1/2 cup chili powder, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup kosher salt, 2 Tbsp black pepper, 2 Tsp cayenne pepper. Here are the ribs rubbed and into the fridge overnight. I cut them in half so they fit in the smoker a little easier, plus you get two more end pieces with nice bark.
Set the alarm clock for 5:30 am so I could get the ribs out of the fridge and start the smoker. By the time I got everything set up, inlcuding getting the charcoal and smoker to the right temperature, it was close to 6:30am. Had a little difficulty getting the Brinkmann temperature exactly where I wanted it. Probably because I was using just Kingsford Competition Briquettes. They burn a little cooler than when I mix it with Cowboy lump. Eventually, I got the temperature to a consistent 235-245 range, added some Hickory and Apple chunks and was ready to go.
Twice during the smoke I spayed them with a quick shot of apple juice. After about 2.5 to 2.75 hours, I pulled the baby backs off the smoker, wrapped them in foil and put them in the oven at 235*. At 3 hours, I did the same with the spares. Cooked them in the oven for another two hours. At 11:30am I then transferred them to a cooler with blankets for the ride to my parents house. (Only a 40 minute ride, but we were not eating till 4:30ish. They stayed in the hot in cooler for about 4 hours more. When I opened them up, they were still steaming. At that point they went on the grill at around 300-325* with a brushing of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce. I think I finished them on the grill for about 30-40 minutes to crisp them back up.
On the Grill
Plated up nicely for a Birthday Presentaiton...
And of course..
The Bear View.
For my first try at spare ribs the results were excellent. My wife told me that the spare ribs were some of the best Q I've put out so far. Funny story, there were 9 adults at dinner. Since there were 9 people and only two racks of spare ribs and one rack of baby backs, I cut the ribs in two bone servings. In addition to the ribs, my mom made some grilled steaks, sloppy joes and various side dishes (corn on the cob, tomato salad etc). Everyone flocked to the ribs, but being courteous, people only took one or two pieces at a time. My brother's godfather took his serving then waited patiently as everyone ate. My mom kept saying "Frank, why don't you have some steak?" and "Are you sure you don't want anything else?" Frank said "No thanks" and sat quietly until he was sure everyone had their share of ribs, then he dove back in two more times for his rib fix. I said, "I knew you were saving room for more ribs!". He agreed and said the ribs were some of the best he's had.
Thank you again to SMF for all the advice and making me the smoking king of my little clan. And thank you to everyone for viewing my Q.