Summer is just around the corner, and nothing says QUALITY backyard barbecue like a good old fashioned rack of pork ribs.
From fat spares, to juicy baby backs; St. Louis and even shortys. Whatever your favorite style is, it doesn't matter. A good rack of ribs, brings people together. I guess the same could be said with all good food. However, when you put a good rack of ribs on the table, shame is thrown to the wind and everyone is knee deep in bbq sauce, and sucking on pig bones within seconds. It's really an experience to witness. I urge you to try in for yourself.
I had the opportunity to do exactly that this past weekend. Camp was set up outside of Forks, WA on the Bogichial River. A friend of mine had recently purchased the property, and invited me to stay. A long time ago, I learned the value of the BBQ barter system, and I felt obliged to cook him and the other guests some quality BBQ. Needless to say, I figured it was an excellent time to try two new rib rubs. Bellingham Washington's Spice Hut supplied me with their "Organic Spicy Ribs and Steak" rub and "Organic Memphis BBQ" rub. Needless to say I was somewhat impressed. Having won a couple of rib-off competitions myself, these spices really held up to the heat (pun Intended). There were subtle yet bold differences between the racks using the two different spices. And (with a little tweaking here and there) I would totally use both rubs in a competition. Seriously.
Disclaimer: Even though I cook, eat, and sleep good barbecue, I'm a bit of a Health Nut. That being said, these spices were exactly what I would want if I were to cook ribs for myself or backyard friends. They were both very low in sodium, and sugar. HOWEVER, when cooking for a competition, nobody is concerned about their girlish figure. I decided to tweak both rubs a little to make them "Competition Friendly," I did this by adding 1/2 Tsp of Flaky Kosher Salt, and 1 TBSP of Maple Sugar to both rubs.
Off the hook. I've actually purchased this rub before and I've never been disappointed. It has subtle hints of coriander, garlic and what I thought was Szechuan Peppercorn? Whatever it was, it gave my first rack of ribs a little extra zing. Not a bite mind you, a zing that sets into your jaw bone and rests there nicely.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
I thoroughly enjoyed this one because it reminded me of when I first got into BBQ. Some of the first ribs that I enjoyed as a BBQ enthusiast were prepared using a Memphis-style rub. Heavy on the paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, with other hints of celery and black pepper. I really liked what the end product tasted like. A good-ol-fashion rack of BBQ ribs.
Rating 8.0 out of 10
Everybody was flat out happy. A good rack of ribs have the power to bring people together through their weird sticky existence. All of us, sitting around the campfire with bellies too full to move were content. I've always been a firm believer of eating quality meals while camping, and nothing said quality camaraderie like these ribs. Indulge yourself and your friends. You deserve it.
P.S. Below is my Competition Rib Recipe adapted for these rubs
1 Cup Apple Juice
1/4 Cup of Rib Rub per Rack
1 Stick Butter
Unwrap ribs and pat dry. Using a paper towel, remove the silver skin on the backside of the ribs.
Use the paper towel method, it's the only way to get a solid grip on the silver skin.
Fire up the smoker (or grill) to 250 degrees F. In the meantime rub up your rubs with one of my previously stated rubs. Remember to add a touch of salt and brown or maple sugar if you want to reeaaally make your friends drool
Put the ribs on the smoker, and add a mixture of fruit wood and heavy hardwood. I typically suggest Cherry and Hickory. This past cook however I used Alder and Oak. Wow. Just try it.
After 1 Hour flip the ribs
After another hour, wrap the ribs tightly in aluminum foil. Evenly combine maple sugar and butter all around ribs. I prefer to melt all of it together first and then add. Just before you close up the package, add about 5 tbsp of apple juice.
After about an hour and a half, remove the ribs from the wrap and place them face up on the grate. This allows them to firm back up
Test the ribs for done-ness after another 45 minutes.
Pro Tip: BEND THE RIBS! Get yourself a good pair of food grade heat gloves and physically pick up the rack of ribs. Then bend them. If they bend pretty difficult, then they need a little more time. If they break, then they are overdone. The "Just Right" is when they bend easily without breaking apart.
Once you've reached the desired doneness level, sauce your ribs if you wish! I used my own house blend this round, but any sauce with a little bit of apple juice to cut the sweetness will do the trick.
Serve and Enjoy!