Spareribs are preferred by many people because of their meatiness and great pork flavor. They can be barbecued whole and untrimmed, or trimmed St. Louis style to resemble pork loin back ribs.
For these ribs, I trimmed them St. Louis style and used the "Sugarless Texas Sprinkle Barbecue Rub" from Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue Sauces, a wonderful book filled with tons of information and recipes for sauces, mops, marinades, and rubs.
Here are some pictures I took on May 20, 2007 when I prepared 4 slabs of spareribs using this rub.
As always...click on any of the pictures to view a larger image.
Select And Prep The Spareribs
You'll find information about selecting ribs in the Pork Rib Selection article. Detailed instructions, photos, and a video on trimming spareribs St. Louis style are found in the Pork Sparerib Preparation article.
I purchased 4 slabs of whole spareribs in Cryovac packaging, 2 slabs per package, from a wholesale foodservice store. The packages weighed 7.10 pounds and 7.65 pounds. Each slab weighed about 2-1/2 pounds after trimming St. Louis style, as shown in this photo. Part of the trimming process included removing the membrane from the back of each slab.
Prepare And Apply The Rub
Prepare a batch of Sugarless Texas Sprinkle Barbecue Rub. This will produce enough rub for 4 slabs of ribs with a lot left over.
If you're sensitive to heat, you may want to cut down on the cayenne.
Apply a heavy sprinkling of rub to both sides of the ribs just before putting them into the cooker, as shown in Photo 3.
Select The Smoke Wood
Use 4 chunks of apple smoke wood. Each chunk should be small, for example 3" x 2" x 2" or similar. Cherry, oak, or another mild fruit wood can be used if apple is not available.
There is no need to soak the wood or remove the bark before use.
I used 3 chunks of apple and 1 chunk of cherry, as shown in Photo 4.
Fire-Up The WSM
Fire-up the cooker using the Minion Method. Fill the charcoal chamber 3/4 full with unlit Kingsford charcoal briquettes, then place 20-40 lit coals on top of the unlit ones. Add the smoke wood on top of the lit coals.
Put the water pan in the cooker and fill it with cold tap water to help with temperature control.
Barbecue The Ribs
Assemble the cooker and put 2 slabs bone-side down on each cooking
grate, as shown in Photo 5. Set the 3 bottom
vents to 100% open. Open the top vent fully and leave it that way
throughout the entire cook.
Cook for 2 hours, then baste the meat side with apple juice using a spray bottle.
Cook for another 2 hours, baste again with apple juice, then begin to check for tenderness by using the "tear test". Take hold of two adjacent bones toward the middle of the slab and give them a pull. If the meat offers a bit of resistance but then tears easily, you know the ribs are done just right.
If the ribs don't pass the test at 4 hours—and they probably won't—baste again with apple juice and cook for another 30 minutes, then test again. Repeat until the ribs are tender. Total cooking time for St. Louis style spareribs should be 4-6 hours, depending on the size of the ribs, number of slabs cooked, cooker temperature, and other variables. Let the "tear test" be your guide.
Note that some
slabs may cook faster than others. If this happens, remove the done
ribs from the cooker, wrap in aluminum foil, and place them in an
empty cooler wrapped in towels to keep warm until the others are
Once all the slabs are tender, brush the meat side with your favorite barbecue sauce and cook 5 minutes, then sauce again and cook another 5 minutes.
Here's how the cooker temperatures and vent settings went during my cook:
Note that the vent percentages represent the way I set the vents at the time indicated.
Once the ribs pass the "tear test" and have been sauced, remove them from the cooker and enjoy immediately with your favorite side dishes.
Photo 7 shows the finished ribs as they looked coming right out of the Weber Bullet. Photo 8 shows a close-up view of how the meat pulled down along the bones. Photo 9 shows the ribs served with coleslaw and baked beans.
More Pork Rib Links On TVWB