The St. Louis style spare ribs in this recipe are cut into individual pieces before they are cooked. This is is not a widely used method but I think it should be. By cutting the ribs beforehand, you get more seasoning and more smoke on more surface area and you don’t have to worry about slicing them before serving.. they come out ready to satisfy!
Let me just walk you through it step by step in the recipe below–
Step 1: Remove Membrane (optional)
A lot of the ribs I’ve been getting recently at Costco has the membrane already removed (which I’m completely ok with). If the membrane is still intact on your purchased ribs, you can choose to remove it or leave it there. I’ve tried it both ways, multiple times and in my opinion it’s a little better when it’s removed but then I’m not complaining if it’s still on there. Not TOO big of a deal really.
If you do want to remove it, flip the ribs to bone side up, use a knife, spoon or just your finger to start pulling up on that plastic-like membrane that covers the bones.
Tip: use a paper towel or catfish pliers for better grip.
Pull it clean off in 1 piece or in 3 pieces (doesn’t matter) and you’re done!
Step 2: Slice Ribs
Now for the fun part!
Most of the time we smoke the ribs as a whole rack.. not today though;-)
Today we are slicing the ribs apart so that maximum meat is left on both sides of the bone.
To do this make sure the ribs are bone side up so you can see the bones better and slice off the first bone to your left, right against the bone.
Now slice as close against the bone on the right as you can leaving maximum meat on the bone in the center.. like this:
Doing it this way, you get a bone in the center with maximum meat on both sides of the bone.
Continue these same cuts until you end up with about 6 center ribs with lots of meat on both sides.
You’ll end up with about 7 bone fragments with very little meat on them. Those can be saved for a soup, pot of beans, etc.
Step 3: Add Sauce and Rub
Lay the extra wide ribs down in a foil pan–
Make sure you have a bottle of my barbecue sauce and original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled products) for the seasoning part..
A little sauce on each one first– I wasn’t going for dots and blobs but I was finishing off a bottle that just had a little in it. It dribbled out slowly but I was patient and didn’t waste a bit!
Get your hands dirty and rub it in to the top, sides and bottom of each one.
Now apply ample amounts of Jeff’s original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) on all sides.. pat it in a little to make it stay before you flip them over.
All done and everything needs to spend some time together!
Step 4: Overnight in the Fridge
Place the pan of ribs in the fridge for at least 4 hours but overnight is MUCH better.
The small amount of salt in the original rub will pull some of the rib juices to the surface where it will mix with the rub and sauce and become a paste. Some of that salt and other flavor will get absorbed into the meat over the next several hours.
The next morning you’ll see that the rub, sauce and meat has become one and it’ll smell amazing!
Place the ribs on my new favorite stainless steel rack and pan or a cooling rack if you have one or you can just leave them and place them directly on the grate.
I really like using the stainless steel rack and pan as that holds the meat up off the bottom of the pan, provides a drip pan and still allows the smoke to get all the way around the meat.. all while keeping your smoker grates clean.
Wanna be even more smart and efficient? Wrap the pan in heavy duty foil before you place the grate in there and you’ll only have to wash the rack when you’re finished!
Lay the extra-wide ribs on the rack and they are ready for the smoker.
Step 5: Set up Smoker
I fired up the Camp Chef Woodwind Wi-Fi to Hi Smoke which just means it runs at an average of 225°F and creates a very liberal amount of smoke.
Use whatever smoker you have or want to use whether it’s charcoal, splits, gas, electric, you get the idea. Run about 225°F no matter what smoker you use.
If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up for good measure.
If your smoker did not come with a water pan (pellet smokers do not) then you can skip this step.
I used pecan but hickory or almost any smoking wood that you have available will work great for these ribs and give them an amazing flavor.
Once your smoker is preheated and ready to cook, let’s get the ribs in there.
Step 6: Smoke the Meat
Place the pan of ribs into the smoker or you can place them directly onto the grates if you prefer.
Let them cook for about 3 hours first to form a really good crust. Check them at this point and if they look like the rub on the top is nice and dry, feel free to spritz them with some apple juice, Pepsi, whatever you have. Something with a little sugar in it is best.
Step 7: Sauce and Sear
At hour 4, it’s time to put some sauce on them, of course you should use Jeff’s original barbecue sauce (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) but if you have another favorite, well, whatever 😉
Coat them good and spread it out over the top and sides.
Now crank up the heat. I have a Camp Chef Woodwind so I pushed it on up to 425°F to get a good finish on them. If you also have a smoker that can cook hot like that, then I recommend you do the same.
In my case, I wanted to finish and serve the ribs in the Made-in blue carbon roasting pan so I let the sauce set in the 425°F heat of the smoker for about 15 minutes then moved them all to that roasting pan and right back into the smoker.
You can also just leave them as they are and continue on at 425°F or whatever the highest heat you can muster whether that’s 250, 275 or whatever. You’ll get there.
Tip: Another option is to bring them in at this point and put them into the oven preheated to 425°F.
At 425°F, it took mine an additional 40 minutes to be get the color I wanted on the ribs and to get some char on the sauce.. they turned out beautiful if you ask me!
Step 8: Serve ’em Up
Serve them just as soon as they are finished and watch the smiling faces and enjoy the quietness as everyone stops talking to eat.. that’s how you know the food is amazing 😉