Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Spare Ribs

Ever since I started cooking BBQ, I have always used baby back, actually loin back ribs instead of spares. I have always preferred the backs. It probably goes back to my first experiences with ribs.

Some of you may remember a baseball player named Rusty Staub who used to play for the Mets. He wasn't just a pretty good hitter, he was also a gourmet chef. His specialty was "Canadian Baby Back Ribs." When I was in high school, I worked for my father in the summers in Manhattan. One of my favorite treats was when we would go up to Rusty's Restaurant on 3rd Avenue and 73rd Street. His ribs were true baby backs and fall off the bone tender, unlike any I had ever had in my life. While I have no idea how they were prepared, that was where I developed my initial love for BBQ ribs.
I wish he still had a place. However, he has been raising tons of money for the firefighters and police who died September 11th, 2001. He has raised over 100-million-dollars, which is awesome.

Now that I have been competing for a while, I have started learning more about spare ribs. They are the choice of many of the top scoring competition teams, so I have decided that I should try and start cooking them too.
I did cook them once before, a couple of years ago, with average results. This was before I started competing. Sunday was my first real spare rib cook.
I started with a two pack of spare ribs from BJ's.

I did my best to trim them down to St. Louis size. One of the racks I ended up trimming too muchand they were a lot smaller than the other. I rubbed both racks with my homemade competition rib rub.

Next, they went into the WSM for three and a half hours at 225 degrees with lump charcoal, a couple of large apple wood chunks and a big chunk of hickory.

Next, they went into foil for an hour and a half with apple juice and honey. Then, back into the smoke for another hour.

Sauced for the final 15 minutes, turned and basted a few times before I pulled them for slicing.

Here is the finished product.

Overall, I thought they came out pretty good. The tenderness was not quite there, might have needed a little more time in the foil. But they really held the smoke flavor, and had a nice smoke ring.

I didn't slice them very well either. I'll work on that for next time. Spares clearly would present a lot better in competition, but I have to say that for me personally, I still prefer the backs. But I will do a few more cooks before I decide whether to make the switch for competitions.


pigtrip said...

Good lookin' ribs!

Michael said...

Spare Ribs are never meant to be fall off the bone tender like baby backs. They should always have a little "tooth to them".

Ernest said...

IBC or Smithfield. Be careful at Salem Prime Cuts too.. they cost and they will sneek by a saturated pack if your not careful.
Now those are some pretty ribs, very little bone shine, I'd say top knotch as far as looks... maybe if they were colder when you put them in the ring would be better (no cresote problem if you have good smoke) BUT i bet a million you have bought into the low and slow and your GRADE temp is under 212. Collagen needs to be carried away
after bonding with fat and that does NOT happen under what you think is 225 because of the time actually spent at that temp. Too high and the fat goes away without chemically bonding and taking the collagen with it. This eluded me for years! As the texture is the same.
Ever wonder why Billy Bones won all those competitions at 350 with no wrap and why Kreuz Briskets are tender at 350? Smoke rings stop at internal 140 too so long exposure won't make it better.

Spares can deal with higher temps as lower dries them out. You have to have quite a humidor in there to keep them from drying at that temp.
Or 100 lbs of other meats.

Case of IBC spares for around 55 bucks... freeze the rest and test.

Brooklyn Blood said...

Try cutting them in thirds, place each third it it's own foil packet with 1/4 cup of water, seal and cool around 350 for 45 min - hour. Unwrap place sauce on I e side, flip after 15 min, BBQ sauce on the bottom, 15 min, turn one last time and coat again for 15 min, remove and enjoy. Don't forget to place your dry rub on first.

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.