If anyone can throw down on ribs, it’s Jackson Rouse. As the chef at Smoq, Rouse routinely serves 270 pounds of St. Louis–style ribs and 200 pounds of baby back ribs on Saturday nights alone. There are as many styles of ribs as there are states in the nation, but the one ingredient they all have in common is patience. Succulent, love-me-tender ribs require low-and-slow cooking; anything else results in little more than charred meatsicles. Pre-boiling them is practically a sin in the church of authentic barbecue, and drowning them in sauce is another. Mopping means basting, and it’s better to do that later in the cooking process rather than earlier, when the sugar in the sauce will burn. Get yourself a beer or two, put on some smokin’ soul music, and seek some barbecue salvation.
Dry-Rubbed Smoked Spareribs
6 pounds pork spareribs (removing membrane is recommended)
½ cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tablespoons ancho chili powder
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons garlic powder
2 Tablespoons lemon pepper
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 Tablespoons honey powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon espresso powder (such as Medaglia D’oro)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Rub mixture generously onto spareribs. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or better yet, overnight.
Kentucky-Style Black BBQ Mop Sauce
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
scant 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Heat vegetable oil over moderate heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until onion is soft and light golden brown. Add remaining ingredients, stir, and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes (sauce will thicken slightly).
Prepare outdoor grill for indirect heat, or preheat smoker to 225 degrees. When coals are gray and ashed over, place 2 handfuls of soaked woodchips directly on them. Place ribs on grate, bone side down. Cover and cook for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, periodically adding more coals as needed. Baste with mop sauce, and throw handfuls of soaked woodchips onto coals every hour. Keep temperature from going below 225 degrees. Ribs are done when the rub has created a wonderful, crispy, blackened “bark,” and the meat has pulled away from the bone.