Ribs are the ultimate barbecue. Spareribs are a challenge—they're larger and tougher than baby backs (but more flavorful), requiring long, slow smoking to reduce them to meaty perfection. That's why they're the rib of choice for people who compete on the professional barbecue circuit.
Serves 4 to 8
3 cups wood chips (preferably hickory), soaked for 1 hour in apple cider to cover, then drained; spray bottle; rib rack (optional)
4 racks of spareribs (4 to 6 pounds total)
6 cups apple cider, plus additional for spraying the ribs
4 whole lemons (optional), halved
2?3 cup Basic Barbecue Rub (see below) or your favorite commercial brand
3 cups of your favorite homemade barbecue sauce or your favorite commercial brand
Trim each rack of ribs, or have your butcher do this for you.
Place the ribs in a large nonreactive roasting pan. Pour the cider over the ribs. Squeeze the juice from the lemons over the ribs, catching the seeds with your fingers. Turn the ribs a couple of times to coat all over with marinade. If desired, let the ribs marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 4 to 6 hours, turning several times.
Drain the ribs and blot dry with paper towels. Sprinkle 1?2 cup of the rub on both sides of the ribs, patting it onto the meat with your fingers. Let the ribs stand in the refrigerator, covered, for 1 to 2 hours.
Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in the center. If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and preheat to high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium.
When ready to cook, if using charcoal, toss 1 cup of wood chips on the coals. Place the ribs in the center of the hot grate, away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook the ribs for 2 to 3 hours. After 30 minutes, spray the ribs with apple cider and continue to spray every half hour until ready to brush with the sauce. If using a charcoal grill, you'll need to add 12 fresh coals and 1?2 cup wood chips per side after each hour.
Lightly brush the ribs with 1 cup of the sauce 20 minutes before the ribs are done. When the ribs are fully cooked, the meat will have shrunk back from the bones about 1?4 inch, and the meat will be tender enough to tear apart with your fingers. But don't overcook; the ribs should have some chew to them. If the ribs start to dry out, wrap them in aluminum foil for the last hour of cooking.
Transfer the ribs to plates or a platter. Sprinkle the ribs with the remaining rub and lightly brush again with barbecue sauce. Let the ribs rest for a few minutes, then serve with the remaining barbecue sauce on the side.
You can also cook the ribs in a smoker. Smoke them for 4 to 5 hours at 225°F.
Also good for:
This is a wonderful way to prepare baby back ribs. In this case, you'll need to allow 1 to 1 1?2 hours for indirect grilling or 2 to 3 hours for cooking in a smoker.
Click here to find out more about the book this recipe came from, How To Grill, by Steven Raichlen.