BBQ Pork Spareribs Trial Run

by Backyard BBQ Blog

in Pork

Last weekend I tried cooking baby back ribs on my new BBQ pit and it was pretty much a flop.  I had oversmoked them and undercooked em.  This weekend I did a pork spareribs trial run to see if I could up my game a little.  In addition to converting my offset smoker to a reverse flow offset smoker, I tried a rub instead of a marinade.

I went back to again to find a recipe to make my own rub.  If I’m going to up my game, I think skipping the rubs on the spice aisle at the grocery store is a good start.

I settled on Meathead’s Memphis Dust Rub recipe.  I like it a little spicy so, I added two tablespoons of cayenne pepper to make it a little hotter without taking my girlfriends head off.

The recipe ended up as follows:

  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 white sugar
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary powder (i got this out of my garden, dried it out, and ground it in a mortar and pestle)
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

Pork Spareribs Rub

I think next go-around, a little more black pepper will suit my taste buds a little better.  Maybe another tablespoon.

Again, since I’m sticking with for now, I continued with Meathead’s recipe for “Last Meal Ribs.”

First things first, a quick rinse in the sink and peel off the membrane.  After that, it was time to add the rub.  Meathead suggests that you coat the ribs in a thin layer of vegetable oil (as opposed to olive oil due to vegetable oil’s lack of flavor) due to the flavorings in the rub being soluble in oil as opposed to water, which will help it penetrate the ribs better.  I would have never thought of that.

I coated the ribs with just enough rub so that the meat showed through.  Meathead suggests letting the ribs sit in the fridge for about an hour after you’ve put the rub on, but I’ve seen some people recommending eight hours.  I called it even and let mine sit for four hours.

Pork Spareribs Rub

My pork spareribs are starting to look good, time to fire up the grill!

With my grill converted, its time for the real test.  I loaded up the firebox with enough charcoal to get it good and hot.  Maybe about five pounds to start with.  And, added more as it burned down. Additionally, since I had put too much smoke on my baby back ribs the last go-around, I just added a chunk of hickory every thirty minutes or so for the first half of the cook time, to keep from overpowering the other flavors.

My understanding is that the optimal temperature setting for cooking pork spareribs low and slow is around 225 degrees Fahrenheit.  I learned later in the day that that stupid built in thermometer at the top of my pit can be off by as much as 50 degrees.  Although it showed 250 for the six hours that I cooked the spareribs, it was likely much less at the grill level.

BBQ Temperature Gauge

Although this time the ribs weren’t as under cooked as last time, they still could have probably used another hour. Or I could have finished them up with the “Texas Crutch” (I’ll try this, and explain it, at another time).

The last thirty minutes, I slathered the ribs with Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce.  Slather it on too early and it can burn.  I’m not sure that Sweet Baby Ray’s was the BBQ sauce that I should have used in combination with the sweet rub that was on it.  Some parts of the ribs were as sweet as candy when they were done.  I’ll try something a little more tangy next time to offset the sugar in the rub, either by making it, or finding a high quality sauce at the grocery store.

Pork Spareribs

All in all, I rank my trial run with pork spareribs as a 5 out of 10.  My son and my girlfriend gave it much higher marks and were very happy, but I know it could be better.  Next time around, I’ll manage the smoker temperature better and use a sauce that’s not as sweet.  I think Meathead’s recipe is probably a lot better than the results I got.

My pork spareribs all done


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