4th of July BBQ, Pork Ribs St. Louis Style
Pork Ribs, particularly spare ribs, are frequently cooked at backyard BBQ’s across the USA.
The City of St. Louis, MO, provides the name of St. Louis-style ribs, which are spare ribs with the sternum bone, cartilage and rib tips removed to create a rectangular-shaped rack.
The rib tips are also a St. Louis specialty, grilled or smoked.
This cut of ribs, formalized by the USDA as “Pork Ribs, St. Louis Style,” originated with numerous meat-packing plants located in the region in the mid 20th Century and put into the policy by a diehard fan of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. The St. Louis style ribs are a favorite cut for competitive and home BBQ’ing.
Although St. Louis is typically not included on the list of major styles of barbecue in the United States, the city was recognized by Kingsford Charcoal as “America’s Top Grilling City” in its 2nd annual list of Top 10 Grilling Cities.
In fact, many of the foods characteristic of this style are grilled rather than cooked over the indirect heat and smoke that is typically associated with the term “barbecue” in the United States.
George Mahe, St. Louis Magazine’s Dining Editor, states: “When you hear the words ‘St. Louis-style barbecue,’ though, most often it means ‘grilled, then sauced’ as opposed to dry-rubbed and slow-smoked.”
I like them smoked and then sauce glazed,
Here is how to make them:
You can buy the entire slab of spare ribs and trim it into St. Louis cut ribs at home, but you can also find them pre-trimmed at most grocery stores..
Once out of the package there’s a bit work that needs to be done.
Flip the ribs over and trim off the flap of meat right against the bone, also remove the membrane. To do this use a butter knife to gently raise the membrane until I can get a finger under it. Then use a paper towel for grip and slowly pull the membrane off. Sometimes it will tear; just keep working at it until all of the it is removed. And, if there is any large deposits of fat underneath the membrane, scrape it off.
Now the ribs are ready to season.
The 1st thing: apply a combination of salt, black pepper, and garlic with some herbs to your taste for a base flavor. Then spread on a layer of yellow mustard for a binder. This will help the rub stick to the ribs as it cooks.
Once the mustard is slathered on both sides, apply the rub. to each side. Let the ribs rest for a few minutes while your smoker is coming up to temperature. Set the temp to 275F and in 20 mins it is ready.
Place the ribs on the smoker and let them for 45 mins. At this point it’s time to baste, you do not want them to get too dry.
For the baste mix:
- 8 oz Apple Juice
- 4 oz Pineapple Juice
- 2 oz Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 oz Extrs Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 oz Red Wine
Pour all of the ingredients into a squirt bottle and shake to combine. At each 45 min mark, spray the ribs with the baste mixture and apply a touch more of the dry rub, this technique builds layers of flavor on the ribs.
After 3 hrs of smoke it’s time to wrap the ribs.
You do not want them to get too dark or develop an over-smoked flavor. For wrapping the ribs you need heavy duty aluminum foil. Tear off a large strip of foil, lay the ribs meat down in the center, and drizzle melted clarified butter. Sprinkle brown sugar over the butter and drizzle with Organic honey. Flip the ribs over and do the same for the top side. Bring the foil up and over the ribs, then flip the rack over. Fold up the sides and it will create a tight seal.
Place the ribs back on the smoker and check them again in 1 hr, they should be getting very tender.
Carefully open the foil and tug on the bones a little. If it feels as if the bone can be removed with a little more force, than the ribs are right where you want them. Sometimes it requires a little more time in the foil, so you just have to watch them close. If you take an internal temperature, it should be around 190-195F.
Now that the ribs are tender it is time to set a final glaze.
Carefully return the slabs back to the smoker on full size wire cooling racks. It makes for maneuvering them back and forth easier. You can find these racks at local restaurant supply stores.
For the glaze use a St. Louis style sauce, I use Maull’s, a 100 yr old St. Louis tradition, mixed with a little apple juice. Spread it evenly on both sides of the ribs and let the glaze cook on for about 30 mins.
Watch it carefully, because the sugars in the glaze can turn dark and burn fast, check the ribs about every 10 mins just to make sure the glaze is not over caramelizing.
Once the glaze has set, it’s time to pull the ribs off, and cut them into one bone pieces if you are going to serve them immediately
Have terrific 4th of July Holiday!