Recipe By: Sweet C’s Design
Spare Ribs vs Baby Back Ribs – What’s the Difference
What most people know of ribs are the popular Baby Back Ribs. An excellent cut of meat taken from the muscle that runs along the back of the pig. Baby Back Ribs are leaner and tender and have more meat. Spare Ribs on the other hand is located on the belly side of the pig. Spare Ribs have less meat and more fat which helps keep them nice and juicy through the smoking process.
How to Trim and Prep Ribs
For Smoking, Ribs don’t involve a ton of extra trimming and prep – though a little bit of work goes a long way to making perfect fall off the bone juicy ribs.
Removing the Silver Skin from the Ribs
Silver skin is the whitish, silvery membrane that runs along the back side of the ribs. While it is not necessary to remove the membrane, it is very easy, and can help make your ribs softer and easier to eat.
Removing silver skin can be a little tricky until you get the hang of it – and then it’s a breeze!
- Slide a small, rounded knife (not a sharp knife) under the silverskin anywhere along the rib rack, and pull up on the skin to loosen it.
- If it won’t pull up in one spot, simply try another.
- Lift and loosen the membrane or silver skin with the knife until it’s loose enough that you can grab it with your hands.
- Pull the silver skin off of the rack of ribs; it should peel away in one large sheet, but if it breaks – no worries- just use the knife to restart the easy process in another section of ribs.
How to Season Ribs
When you think of smoked ribs, people often see ribs dripping in sauce (which looks fabulous for commercials, but can absolutely drown out your pork rib flavor) – but these ribs are designed to be finger-licking fabulous either with no sauce, a crusted sauce-bark, or slathered in sauce – whatever you prefer!
The best BBQ smoked ribs have so much flavor out of the smoker they don’t even need sauce (of course, they also take sauce fabulously too.) To do this, we will rub the ribs with a perfect blend of spices that pull out the pork’s naturally light and sweet flavor, and compliment the smoke without overpowering the meat. When creating a rib rub, there is a lot of room for creativity – be sure to change up the spices you use and try out new things you like, but don’t skip rubbing your ribs before smoking for the absolute best rib flavor!
Juice and Butter Bath
In the middle of smoking ribs, when they are wrapped in foil, I like to give my ribs a little bit of a bath in some apple juice or apple cider, and butter. This helps to create a juicy rib flavor and helps the meat become tender and soft and not dry out when wrapping to cook in foil. When done properly, these steps can give you juicy and delicious ribs that don’t even need a sauce for moist, tender, and delicious meat – though they also serve as the perfect base to then top with your favorite sauce.
The Right Wood
Since pork is a light and slightly sweet meat, it can become easily overpowered with heavy smoke. In general, you’ll want to look for lighter woods or fruit woods for a lighter, cleaner flavor that won’t overpower your ribs and will taste “cleaner”.
The Best Wood is:
For the Rub:
- 1 tbsp ground black or white pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp Paprika, sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp celery salt
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- For the bath:
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup apple juice or cider
- 4 tbsp of butter cubed
For the Ribs:
1 rack baby back ribs, reduce cook time if using spare or St. Louis Style ribs
- Mix Season Ingredients together
- Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F. Use your favorite hardwood. I recommend fruit, hickory, or apple woods.
- Trim your ribs. Remove the large segment of bones on top of the ribs, the thin flap and membrane on the back of the ribs, and the tail end of the ribs.
- Mix rub ingredients well, cover completely over ribs.
- Smoke your ribs. No spritzing, no wrapping, no saucing, NO PEEKING! Get those ribs on your smoker and let them roll for at least 3 hours.
- Lay out foil and lay ribs on top, adding butter, juice, and cider into foil and wrap ribs tightly in foil.
- Cook in foil for 2 hours.
- Open foil and baste ribs in cooking liquids, let set for 15 minutes