spare ribs

Greater Baltimore area residents: I’m speaking about food and nutrition at CrossFit Glen Burnie on Saturday, July 13th. More info is here.

Like most red-blooded American men, I have a special place in my heart for barbecue ribs. That’s probably pretty obvious, since I have no less than TEN ribs recipes on my site (my favorites are here and here) – that’s nearly 5% of all my recipes!

My taste in ribs has changed over the years, as well as my cooking method; originally I braised my ribs in apple juice and onions for a couple hours, then crisped them over a grill. While I still like ribs that way from time to time, I’ve come to better appreciate smoked ribs – those cooked over low temperatures for extended periods, gently nudged to perfection by wafting curls of smoking cinders.

The trouble is, despite all of my outdoor cooking adventures, I keep pushing off the idea of buying a charcoal grill or a smoker, the usual staples of tasty smoked ribs – my backyard patio only has so much real estate, and I don’t think Mrs. Domestic Man would appreciate more contraptions back there. So I’ve been diligently plugging away at making an easy, foolproof method for smoking ribs on a gas grill, and I’m ready to share the meats of my labor.

To demonstrate, I decided to use spare ribs, which is a cheaper cut of ribs, but they taste just fine to me when cooked properly. I also used a drip pan full of hard cider to flavor and moisten the ribs as they smoked (regular apple cider or water would do fine as well).

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This recipe is similar to my original ribs recipe, but with spare ribs instead of baby back ribs, and with more ingredients in the braising liquid. It resulted in a rich, complex meaty taste.

The first thing you’ll probably notice right off the bat is that spare ribs aren’t very nice looking. “Spare ribs” is a phrase used for the lower ribs, which aren’t particularly evenly cut. That’s the sacrifice one makes for getting cheaper ribs! The ribs I used in my recipe were pre-cut but you may have to cut them yourself. Also, spare ribs are usually home to a bunch of pieces of cartilage, which some people find unappealing; personally, I like to dig around the ribs and find them.

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