St. Louis Style Ribs
4 racks pork ribs
6 tbsp. Spanish paprika
4 tbsp. garlic powder
4 tbsp. brown sugar
4 tbsp. dry mustard
12 tbsp. coarse sea salt
2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
Now that the ribs were rubbed, I let them rest at room temperature for an hour and took the time to set up my smoker. I use a Bradley smoker that I picked up online for less than $400 brand new. It’s the perfect size for home use, is reliable and stows away quite nicely. I let the unit heat up, with it cranked on high until it reached a temperature of about 240F. Then I dropped 4 pucks of hickory into the wood puck feeder. After about ten minutes the smoker had filled with smoke and it was time to get my ribs on the racks and in the smoker. I opened the vent slightly to allow for a small amount of the smoke to dissipate, so as not to overdo it. That’s the real challenge with smoking anything, finding the right balance. Not leaving the meat in for long enough, or allowing it smoke enough, and the flavour won’t come through at all. Too much smoking, for too long, and your meat will taste like you’re eating an ashtray, not to mention how dry it will be. My best suggestion for smoking anything is to scroll through the Bradley smoking websites and blogs. There are a lot of great tips and people willing to offer advice on how to prepare just about anything. The other piece of advice I can offer, in my small amount of experience, keep notes. Write down what steps you did, the time and temperature you cooked everything, and then adjust your steps the next time. Trial and error seems to be the best approach with this style of cooking.
After allowing my ribs to smoke for 2 hours and forty five minutes, at a temperature of about 220F, I removed them from the smoker, allowed them to cool slightly and wrapped them up.
2 cups apple juice
On the big day I placed the ribs on a wire rack, in a baking pan, and then placed the apple juice in the bottom of the pan. I covered the pan with aluminum foil and placed them in a preheated 250F oven for 3 hours.
The first step in the smoker was to develop flavour, but this second step is to help tenderize the tough ribs. If you were to take the ribs and put them right on the grill, they would be tough and chewy by the time the BBQ sauce was cooked on. Keep an eye on the ribs, checking them every 20 minutes or so, after the 2 hour mark. You want to be able to easily put a fork into the meat, but not cook them so long that the meat starts falling away from the bones.
While the ribs were braising it was time to prepare the BBQ sauce that I would smear the lovely racks with at grill time.