Sweet & Spicy Spare Ribs with Pork Perfect
Paula: Do you have a spirit animal? Or, more to the point, do you have a Rib Spirit Animal? Mine would be a Memphis-style dry rub made with peppery red spices and a kiss of brown sugar. My go-to technique, two hours over a wood-infused fire followed by two hours in a low oven, works perfectly every time.
Scott: Are you implying that one can have a multitude of spirit animals classified by bone type? Because I am intrigued by that possibility.
Paula: I’m not sure what I was implying. I guess I was thinking of rib preferences as a sort of personality test, like the ones my kids do online that reveal whether you’re Hermione Granger or Ron Weasley, or if you’re in the Slytherin or Hufflepuff house. But I digress: I think finishing ribs in the oven, wrapped up to preserve moisture, is brilliant because the low heat allows the meat to gently braise in the seasoned juices. Plus it gives you a couple hours to round out the rest of the meal.
Scott: I’m Hufflepuff all the way. I can’t wait for your next book, Slow Cooking Magic For Muggles. Everyone certainly did seem to eat very well in all the Harry Potter movies. Those long tables...
Paula: Um, pass the Cholula and cold rosé, please.
Sweet and Spicy Spare Ribs with Pork Perfect
This recipe calls for St. Louis-style spare ribs, which are larger and meatier than baby back ribs, and they have more fat. I think spare ribs have the best flavor, but baby backs are more tender (and for that reason, more expensive). Feel free to swap in baby back ribs here, but know that they'll become tender more quickly. Check them after they've been in the oven for 30 minutes, and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
2 racks St. Louis-style spare ribs (about 4 ¼ pounds)
2/3 cup Pork Perfect
Hot sauce or barbecue sauce, for serving (optional)
Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium-high fire, or heat a gas grill to high. Clean and oil the grill grates. When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, use tongs to remove the cooking grate and place a drip pan with 1 inch of warm water on the side with no coals, and add 2-3 wood chunks to the coals.
While the grill heats, place the ribs on a platter or in a baking dish and sprinkle both sides of each rack with Pork Perfect, using your hands to evenly coat the ribs, then season the meaty side of the rack with a light sprinkle of kosher salt. Set the pork aside to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, or wrap them well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days.
When the fire begins to produce a steady stream of smoke, place the ribs over indirect heat (if a portion of the rack stretched over the coals, it’s okay). Close the grill, vent the grill for smoking, and smoke for 30 minutes, using the vents to maintain a temperature of 275°F to 300°F. Use tongs to flip and rotate the ribs, so the opposite side is stretching over the coals. Close the grill and smoke for 1 ½ hours more, flipping and rotating the ribs every 30 minutes, adding more coals and wood as needed to maintain a steady temperature and smoke flow, until the ribs are deeply fragrant and have a nice, crisp crust.
Preheat the oven to 225°F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foils and top the foil with two layers of parchment paper. Stack the racks on top of each other on the baking sheet, wrap them tightly in the paper and foil packet, and cook in the oven for 2 hours. Remove the racks from the oven and let them rest in the packet for at least 10 minutes (and up to 30).
To serve, unwrap the racks, slice into individual ribs and serve with your favorite sauce on the side.