I have a fascination for grilling and smoking meats. Maybe it’s my southern upbringing or it’s my primal instinct as a man. Either way I find comfort in standing around a grill, tending the fire and watching the thin blue smoke roll out with the scent of charcoal and hickory.
Cooking great ribs is not difficult but it does take time and patience.
There’s no such thing as true smoked ribs in 1 hr. Sure there are ways to cheat and achieve tender ribs (crock pot, pressure cooker, etc) but you will sacrifice flavor.
The method outlined below works perfectly for spare ribs but If you’re cooking baby backs then reduce the equation to 2-2-.30. I’m currently using a Weber Performer Platinum Charcoal Grill and loving it!
My technique to perfect spare ribs
3-Hours of smoking at 225-250 degrees
2-Hours wrapped in foil (on grill or in oven)
1-Hour unwrapped (on grill or in oven)
It doesn’t matter if you’re using a gas, charcoal grill or a dedicated smoker. You don’t want your heat source to be in direct contact with your meat (hence the name indirect grilling). Good BBQ requires longer cooking times, low temperatures in the range of 225-250 degrees and high humidity. You can increase the humidity by adding a water pan.
The water pan serves two purposes.
1: It creates a high humidity environment in the cooker
2: It catches fat and juices from the meat which keeps your cooker clean.
Step 1-Smoke for 3 hours
I use hickory chunks and don’t need to add any more wood during the smoking period. If you’re using wood chips have a 2nd foil packet handy to place on the coals halfway through smoking. Maintain your temperature between 225-250 degrees during smoking. This is easily done but opening and closing the bottom and top dampers on charcoal grills to control airflow. The more the dampers are open the more air is allowed in which stoked the fire and increases the temperature. Close the vents and you cut off oxygen from the fire which causes it to cool down.
If you are using a gas grill then you can play with the flame control knobs to reach your desired temperature. Also propping the lid open a few inches simulates dampeners on charcoal grills.
Step 2-Wrap in foil and cook for 2 hours
At this point you can choose to return the ribs to the grill for the 2 hour duration or place them on a cookie tray in the oven at 225 degrees. Depending on the weather or if I have other dishes to prep I will use the oven which works great without sacrificing flavor.
Step 3- Remove foil and cook for 1 hr
Once again you can do this in the oven or on the grill. After removing the ribs from the foil they will be moist. Cooking them for another hour removes that excess moisture and helps to form a crust.
*During the last 15-20 minutes place the ribs over direct heat and slather them with some New South BBQ Sauce. Grill for 15 minutes rotating halfway through. The sugars present in BBQ sauce will start to caramelize from the heat and form a sugary crust. Just be sure to not leave your grill during these last 15 minutes because the ribs can burn quickly
If you follow these steps you will have perfect spare ribs every time.