Fall…leaves changing, crisp air, and my personal favorite part…football season and tailgates! You’re probably asking, “what about the PSL”? Nope! Man’s perspective here…the closest I get to being that #basic is a pumpkin-chip cookie. I do enjoy ordering them for my wife at the Starbucks drive through though, “can I get a grande, non-fat, basic please?”. Somehow, they know exactly what that means!
Anyway, back to it! What better to accommodate your tailgate or get right to your man’s heart than some delicious, smoked, pork ribs? You’ll be an All-American in his eyes with these ones for sure! I have been making these for a few years now and everyone loves them, so I decided (with plenty of inner turmoil) to share my secrets to these delicious ribs. Enough talking…lets get right down to business!
What You’ll Need
- Most important - A smoker…I use a Traeger Select Pro Pellet Grill for these, simply because it reduces the amount of babysitting required to maintain the temperature and smoke, but any smoker will do.
- 6 hours…I know, it seems like a big commitment, but its totally worth it! This is another reason for the Traeger Select Pro. Rather than spending 6 hours glued to the smoker, just come back when its time to move to the next step.
- St. Louis Style Pork Ribs. I usually get them from Costco. They are in the meat department and come in a three-rack package. I usually dig through to find the heaviest one (usually about 10 lbs.)
- Spice Rub. I make my own and will provide the instructions to make that (secret #1), but you can use a pre-made one if you don’t want to go all in!
- Apple Sauce (secret #2). Most pork recipes call for apple juice, but I found that the apple sauce makes a bit of a coating on the ribs, rather than just using the liquid to steam the meat.
- Spicy Mustard. I like the Gulden’s spicy brown mustard, but feel free to play with different types (spicy/non-spicy) to experiment with the flavors.
- Worcestershire Sauce. You’ll mix this in with the applesauce and mustard to coat the ribs.
- Honey. Some nice clover honey will do.
- Barbecue Sauce. I use Sweet Baby Ray’s on mine, but you can use whatever your favorite may be.
- Tin Foil. Any tin foil will do, but I have found that the wider the sheets, the easier it will make wrapping the ribs for the steaming step. I use the 18 inch wide rolls.
- Disposable Tin Serving Pans. You can pick these up at your local grocery store and they usually come with a lid, similar to this one. If not, you can cover them with the foil to hold in the deliciousness.
- Two Large Cookie Sheets. You will use these to prep the ribs and to transfer them back and forth to the smoker between steps.
- Large Tongs. To grab the hot ribs off the smoker for each step.
- Nitrile Gloves. Because handling the raw meat and rubbing spices on it feels disgusting!
Making the Rub
If you decide not to use a pre-made rub, here’s what you’ll need (these amounts are based on making three racks):
- Brown Sugar – 2 Tbsp
- Lawry’s Seasoned Salt – 1 tsp
- Pepper – 1 ½ tsp
- Celery Salt – ½ tsp
- Coriander – 1 tsp
- Ginger – 1 tsp
- Cloves – 1 tsp
- Garlic Powder – ½ tsp
To make the rub…just blend all of these ingredients together!
Prepping the Ribs
When you’re ready to start prepping the ribs, start your smoker on the “smoke” setting or about 150-160 degrees F.
Place the ribs on the cookie sheets and pat them dry with a paper towel.
On the underside (bone side) of the ribs, use a butter knife to slide along the bone to loosen a piece of the connective tissue covering the bones (secret #3). Use a paper towel to help you get a grip on it and peel it off. This will ensure your ribs aren’t tough.
- Mix the mustard, applesauce, and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl.
- Applesauce – 2 cups
- Mustard – ¼ cup
- Worcestershire Sauce – 1 Tbsp
- Apply the rub to the ribs starting with the bone side. Then use a spoon to apply the applesauce mixture before flipping them to the other side. Use the back of the spoon to spread the mixture on the ribs.
- Flip the ribs and repeat on the other side.
Get Your Smoke On
Once you have finished prepping the ribs, place them on the smoker, bone side down. Set a timer for 3 hours. For this step, the ribs will just smoke the entire time at the 150-160 degrees F. This gives them that nice, smoky flavor.
Pitch a Tent
While the ribs are smoking, tear off two pieces of the foil for each rack of ribs. You’ll use this to make your tin tents for the ribs to steam in. Once your timer goes off, remove the ribs from the smoker and put them on the cookie sheets. Set your temperature to 225 on your smoker.
Lay down one of the two sheets of the foil you prepped for each rack with the edges turned up to make a bit of a tray and place the racks of ribs on them, bone side down.
Place 3/4 cup honey into the microwave to heat it up (about 30 seconds) so it’s easier to pour over the ribs. Once warm, drizzle the honey over the racks of ribs, then sprinkle with brown sugar.
Shape the other piece of foil so that it creates a bit of a dome so it won’t touch the ribs.
Pinch and roll all of the edges to seal the tent tight so the steam doesn’t escape. Transfer the ribs carefully back to the grill to avoid tearing your foil masterpieces. Set your timer again for two hours this time.
Slather with Goodness
When your timer goes off, carefully remove the ribs from the smoker to avoid tearing the foil. The tents will now be full of steam and hot liquid, so be careful when handling. Open up the foil and transfer the ribs back to the grill.
Slather the ribs with the barbecue sauce and set your timer again, this time for one hour.
When your timer goes off, remove the ribs from the smoker and transfer them to them to the cookie sheets. Let them rest for a couple of minutes.
Once they have rested, cut the ribs and place them in the foil pan for serving.
Cover them up to keep them warm. Serve them with your favorite fixin’s and listen to the cheers from the crowd…and most importantly, your husband…Touchdown!