I’ve blathered on about being from a barbecue family before, and I’ve been asked when I was going to get around to writing some barbecue posts. Well, finally I have my smoker back at out of storage, and today was my first cook in over two years.
Since I’m a bit rusty, I decided to keep it simple (in case things went horribly awry – don’t want to waste too much meat) - 1 rack of pork spareribs and 1 chicken. (A moderate amount of pre-smoke anxiety made me forget to take prep photos – I’ll add some after my next cook).
Nothing special about the ribs – standard 2 1/2 down – about a 4.5lb rack, trimmed, membrane removed.
I’ll go into more detail about rib prep in subsequent posts, but I agree with most that removing the membrane (the pleura) is critical. There’s a lot of debate on whether or not it affects seasoning, etc., but it ultimately comes down to the fact that it contributes nothing to the eating, and it’s so simple to remove that it there’s no reason not to…
The ribs were trimmed and given a dry rub the day before. Growing up, we never used rubs, but I’ve been experimenting with them on and off. I’ve been using a basic rub that is pretty easy to tweak, primarily brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, onion and garlic powder, white and black pepper, salt and cayenne. I’ll post the recipe soon – I don’t mind sharing that. The family sauce is off limits though… The chicken was simply rubbed, inside and out, with salt and black pepper.
Fuel choice is pretty important as well. I’ve done full cooks on wood only, but temperature control becomes extremely difficult in a (relatively) small smoker. Natural lump charcoal is the key (no briquettes) with the occasional addition of unburned wood for flavor (I used mesquite for this batch).
End result is that after a 7 hour cook (5 hours for the ribs – I put the chicken on late) – perfect. Best ribs I’ve had since I took a break 2 years ago, if I do say so myself. Oh, and the chicken was pretty amazing too.
Geek stuff follows:
Remember, barbecuing is not grilling. Barbecuing is slow cooking with relatively low temperatures, in the 225 – 250 degree range. As you can see from my cook log (yes, there does seem to be something a bit wrong with me – but that’s not the point) the key is to maintain that range. Dips in the temperature graph are from loading product into or removing product from the cooking chamber or just screwing around with the door open too long (if you’re lookin’, you’re not cookin’). Spikes are associated with loading fuel into the firebox.