Smoky. Sticky. Sweet and spicy. Appalachian BBQ Spare Ribs.
I ate this style of barbecue when I was a college student visiting a friend’s parents in West Virginia. And it’s always stuck with me. Serve roasted brown butter and garlic Brussels sprouts with shaved Parmesan and grilled corn on the cob with fresh herbs along with the ribs. Warm whole wheat dinner rolls. Toasted pecan and pear kale salad dressed in homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Ice cold beer mugs filled to the brim with golden craft-brewed IPA. The perfect Eastern United States backyard BBQ. Served. Cheers! David
The ultimate Appalachian backyard barbeque. Read onward for a full step-by-step tutorial to grilling smoky, sticky, sweet and spicy, mouth-watering pork spare ribs.
- Dry Rub Ingredients
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- Appalachian BBQ Sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 minced jalapenos, seeds removed and discarded
- 2 cups ketchup
- ¾ cup apple cider
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 grated crisp apple, peel removed and discarded
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2 tablespoon paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
- Kosher salt and fresh ground peppercorn, to taste
- 2 slabs pork spare ribs, trimmed and membrane removed
- 2-3 disposable Char-Broil hickory wood chip packets, applying new packet to grill every 90 minutes
- Dry Rub Instructions: Pulse the olive oil and all the other spices and herbs in a food processor to create the rub. Season additionally to taste. Set aside.
- Appalachian BBQ Sauce Instructions: In heavy bottom pan over high heat, bring oil to a gentle simmer. Toss in the garlic and onion, then sauté 10-15 minutes or until beginning to caramelize. Turn down heat to low and add all remaining ingredients. Cover. Simmer for 30-45 minutes minutes, stirring regularly, until the sauce thickens. Remove pan from heat. Let cool for 5-10 minutes then puree in a food processor until smooth. Set aside.
- BBQ'ing Spare Ribs - Grilling Instructions: Rinse the ribs with cold water, then pat entirely dry with paper towel. Then lay the trimmed ribs over a plastic wrap-lined baking sheet, brush with oil, then massage a liberal degree of dry rub across all portions of the slab. Wrap the ribs tightly with underlying plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours, up to over night. Remove ribs from refrigeration and plastic 1 hour prior to grilling. At least 30 minutes prior to cooking, preheat grill to low (225°F), using the 2-zone cooking method. Place Char-Broil's Wood Chip Smoker Box in back corner of hot zone. Once grill is at 225°F, remove ribs from plastic and rewrap tightly in tin foil. Lay ribs bone-side down over cool zone grates. Cook for 90 minutes, rotating once after 45 minutes. Remove the ribs from grill and discard tin foil. Place the racks back over cool zone grill grates, bone-side down, for an additional 45 minutes, basting intermittently with oil and rotating every 10-15 minutes. Remove ribs from the grill grates and turn both sides of the grill to maximum heat. Place ribs over the grill's direct heat zone, brushing every 2-3 minutes with layer upon caramelized layer of Appalachian BBQ Sauce. Remove slabs from grill when juices run clear and the internal temp has reached 180°F (see additional temperature notes below).
- Place ribs on a cutting board, brush one final time with sauce, then rest 10-15 minutes prior to slicing and serving.
When Purchasing Ribs from the Butcher: Request ribs be trimmed and the tough membrane removed.
If Membrane Not Removed: Simply lay the ribs, bone-side up, on a cutting board. Create an incision in the membrane by slicing through the tough flap with a sharp knife. Then, with a paper towel in hand, grip the membrane and pull away from the bone - slicing and pulling until it's entirely removed.
Two-Zone Cooking Method: Heat only one side of the grill, creating one hot direct heat zone and one cooler indirect heat zone.
Rib Doneness Guide: There are several tests for ensuring appropriate cooking of ribs, but this is as much an art as it is a science. 1. Ribs meat should not fall off the bone - overcooked. 2. Rib slabs should nearly break when lifted with tongs, not wilt - undercooked. 3. Internal temperature is difficult to measure due to the thinness of the meat, proximity of bones and variances in size from one end of the slab to the other. 4. With a toothpick inserted, juices should run clear and if cut into for a sneak peek, the meat should appear white with no pink remaining. 5. If able to accurately measure internal temp, remove from grill when ribs reach 180°F.