Chef Jamie Purviance
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Championship Spareribs with Sweet Apple Barbecue Sauce
3 Tbs kosher salt
2 Tbs ancho chile powder
2 Tbs packed light brown sugar
2 Tbs granulated garlic
1 Tbs ground cumin
2 tsp ground black pepper
4 racks spareribs, each 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pounds
3/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/4 cup cider vinegar
5 fist-sized hickory wood chunks
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup yellow mustard
2 Tbs molasses
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 tsp chipotle chile powder
Prepare the smoker for indirect cooking with very low heat (225 to 250F). In a medium bowl mix the rub ingredients. Put the spareribs, meaty side up, on a cutting board. Follow the line of fat that separates the meaty ribs from the much tougher tips at the base of each rack, and cut off the tips. Turn each rack over. Cut off the flap of meat attached in the center of each rack. Also cut off the flap of meat that hangs below the shorter end of the ribs. Using a dull dinner knife, slide the tip under the membrane covering the back of each rack of ribs. Lift and loosen the membrane until it breaks, then grab a corner of it with a paper towel and pull it off. Season the spareribs all over with the rub, putting more of the rub on the meaty sides than on the bone sides. In a small spray bottle combine 3/4 cup apple juice and 1/4 cup cider vinegar. Brush the cooking grate clean. Add two of the wood chunks to the charcoal. Smoke the spareribs, bone side down, over INDIRECT VERY LOW HEAT, with the lid closed, until the meat has shrunk back from the bones at least ½ inch, 4 to 5 hours. After each hour, add more lit briquettes as necessary to maintain the heat, add one more wood chunk to the charcoal (until they are gone), and spray the ribs on both sides with the apple juice mixture. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the spareribs are done, remove them from the smoker. Brush the racks on both sides with the sauce and wrap each rack in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Return the foil-wrapped racks to the smoker, stacking them on the top cooking grate. Continue to cook over INDIRECT VERY LOW HEAT, with the lid closed, until the meat is tender enough to tear with your fingers, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the spareribs from the smoker and lightly brush the racks on both sides with sauce again. Cut the racks into individual ribs. Serve warm with the remaining sauce on the side.
Regulate the heat with a water pan. Big fluctuations in smoking temperatures can tighten and dry out foods. Whenever you cook for longer than an hour, use a pan of water to help stabilize the heat and add some humidity. Obviously a water smoker already has one, but for a charcoal or gas grill, use a large disposable foil pan and don’t forget to refill it.
Don’t overdo it. The biggest mistake that rookies make is adding too much wood, chunk after chunk, to the point where the food tastes bitter. In general, you should smoke food for no longer than half its cooking time.
Also, the smoke should flow like a gentle stream, not like it is billowing out of a train engine.
Try not to peek. Every time you open a cooker, you lose heat and smoke − two of the most important elements for making a great meal. Open the lid only when you really need to tend to the fire, the water pan, or the food. Ideally take care of them all at once − quickly. Otherwise, relax and keep a lid on it.
Let the bark get dark. Barbecued meat should glisten with a dark mahogany crust that borders on black. This “bark” is the delicious consequence of fat and spices sizzling with smoke on the surface of the meat and developing a caramelized crust over the luscious meat below. Before you take the meat off the cooker or wrap it in foil, make sure the bark is dark enough that it tastes like heaven.
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