The weather was cool, there was going to be football on TV, and it had been too long since my Brinkman smoker had been let loose. All of those add up to one thing… smoked ribs – rubbed with my super secret rub, and served with some homemade whiskey BBQ sauce.
A few years ago when I moved from Manhattan to Queens, I decided to ask for a smoker for Christmas. It’s a small little kettle-type deal that has an electric heating element and and a few racks. Now I know that there are some BBQ purists out there that are shaking their heads and saying that an electric smoker is cheating, but I live in the city, my backyard is a postage stamp, and I don’t have enough space for a proper smoker. When I make millions of dollars from selling my blog empire, I’ll build a proper smoke house on my country estate. For now, a plug-in smoker works fine for me.
The key to my ribs is making sure that you get a good rub on them the night before (insert dirty double entendre here). I used a couple of slabs of pork spare ribs (they cook relatively fast and are the perfect size for the smoker) and put some magic dust on them..
Without further adieu, my super secret “Sweet, Spicy and Smokey” rub.
1 cup of brown sugar
4 TB Onion Powder
3 TB Chipotle Chili Powder
2 TB Paprika
2.5 TB Kosher Salt
2 TB Garlic Powder
1 TB of Dried Basil
1 TB of Dried Thyme
We usually have a Tupperware container of this pre-mixed in our spice cabinet. It goes great on chicken, ribs, and is a great simple rub for a pork tenderloin. The sugar makes it sweet, the chili powder makes it spicy, and the chipotle makes it a bit smokey. I love this rub, and now that it’s getting out in to the open, the world will be a better place.
After the rub goes on, wrap the ribs in plastic wrap tightly. Put them in the fridge overnight. Then drink some bourbon and contemplate how awesome tomorrow is going to be. Go to bed dreaming of pigs and how delicious they are.
I use the 2-1-1 method for my ribs; 2 hours in the smoker, 1 hour in the oven wrapped, one hour in the oven unwrapped. So, I woke up in the morning and took the ribs out so they would come to room temperature. I set up the smoker and got it going with some apple-wood chips. Once the smoker got up to temperature (around 225), I unwrapped the ribs and put them on for around 2 hours.
Sunday was the perfect smoking day. It was cold and there was a slight breeze. That actually makes the cooking process a bit more challenging, but it makes managing the smoke in a tightly packed NYC neighborhood a lot easier. Last August when I smoked ribs in the backyard, it was 85 degrees and still. The entire neighborhood had a haze of apple-wood smoke over it. Mrs. Notafoodie, who was walking the dog, said that she could smell the smoke a mile away. I was very surprised that the FDNY did not pay us a visit. Although, I do think that if any group would understand, it would have been hungry firemen.
After 2 hours, I sort of cheated. We had a 1st birthday party to go to, so I took the ribs off of the smoke, wrapped them tightly in foil, and put them in the fridge. When the party was over (Happy Birthday Anthony!), I took the ribs out and put them in the oven at 225 for an hour. Then I unwrapped them and let them cook for another hour.
The result were ribs that had a crunchy outside, but were tender and juicy on the inside. The smoke gives it such a great flavor. If you don’t have a smoker, you can cook over indirect heat on a grill, but DEFINITELY use some sort of damp wood (apple or cherry) to let off some smoke.
I served them with a whiskey BBQ sauce that I got from this book (which is a great resource for all things BBQ). The sauce is something that I cook up a batch of in the summertime and keep it in a 1-liter bottle in the fridge. It’s great on everything and has a nice little bite to it.
Nothing is better than eating a plate of ribs while the Giants are busy destroying the Redskins. There’s a pun about pork, pigskin and hogs in there somewhere, but I’m drooling and need to go get me some leftovers… so I’ll just leave it at that.
Since I originally posted this, a few people asked me about my smoker and the book. Here you go: