Smoked Spare Ribs

Smoked-Spare-Ribs-from-Slim-PalateMy mother is a Texas bred woman and is also one of the most selfless human beings on the planet. Everyone that I’ve ever introduced to her has always pointed out that she is the sweetest lady that they have ever met, which I completely agree. The only thing that I’d note is despite her daintiness that some people don’t notice at first is that she is still emblazoned with that burning essence of pure fire breathing southern kick. A sort of hidden tremendous level of strength mentally and physically, and a serious love for barbecue all over her face. I feel that her Texan blood transferred a little in to me so I have a special place in my heart for all things Texas Barbecue. Many a time I kid myself with always concocting the most  elegant dishes I can with atypical ingredients but I simply just can’t lie to myself anymore about still loving good old Texas barbecue.

Meaty-Spare-RibsOf course I’m referring to the wondrous world of smoked meats. Collosal towering slabs of fatty brisket layered on top of each other pooling it’s smokey juices onto a weathered cutting board, thick layers of umami concentrated “bark” surrounding the smoke ring branded meat as the aroma of sweet fresh burning wood fill your nose. You know what I’m talking about. I’m not sure there are many people who don’t have a special place in their heart for smoked meats, I have yet to run into such a misery in a person. And I definitely know that pretty much the entire Paleo community has a special place in their hearts for it. Heck they even have huge competitions for it, I say it’s an art that takes true mastery and patience to be good at.


The artistry of meat smoking is something that I’m quite new to and quite frankly I’m not that great at it yet, and I wanted to break in my new smoker. While I’m not the best at smoking just yet, my uncle Larry and my local farmer Jason are incredibly well versed in the craft. Luckily I had their assistance in my first “real” smoking endeavor that required real time and diligence that wasn’t bacon. Through their teachings I learned a few things about smoking that I applied to this endeavor such as my wood choice, timing, ventilation, temperature.

To be honest I’m quite glad I got their opinions and assistance before I attempted it because I never realized how many elements could be thrown into one cooking method. It’s a daunting thing to go into and I was hesitant but now that I’ve done it I feel a lot more comfortable doing it and realize how simple it is once you just try it, and you should too if you want to smoke something but still haven’t. Plus since my cookbook is printing that’s all the more reason to smoke some ribs in anticipation.


Once I had my method planned and I was confident with my wood choice I ultimately decided to smoke my local farm Yonder Way Farm’s cut of spare ribs called “meaty spare ribs”. These aren’t you’re average rack of spare ribs. On these ribs my farmer leaves a small layer of pork belly attached to them in addition to the ribs. If that isn’t a kiss on the cheek for supporting a local farmer then I don’t know what is. So in terms of layering from bottom to top it starts with meat surrounded bone, another layer of the spare rib meat and then a small strip of pork belly; which the pork belly happens to be the meaty part of the pork belly so it is indeed very “meaty”.


Each and every bite is sumptuously tender, melts in your mouth, and has the perfect level of fattiness so that it isn’t overwhelming.  So if you’re afraid of smoking and haven’t attempted anything yet then don’t be and try it out because you will likely do just fine and want to do it again, also if you don’t have meaty spare ribs that are accessible to you then I feel very bad for you. In fact everyone should try and work together to make meaty spare ribs a standard cut, for the better of man kind.


Smoked Spare Ribs
How to make smoked ribs; the food that almost everyones heart yearns for.
  • 1 rack of spare ribs, preferably meaty (4-7 lbs)
  • 8½ cups wood chips, wood chunks, or a mixture of the two (pecan or oak are good choices. I used pecan.)
Dry Rub:
  • 2 teaspoons each of salt, optional coconut sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon each black pepper, cacao powder
  • ½ teaspoon each onion powder, cinnamon, chipotle chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Combine all ingredients for the dry rub in a small bowl and mix until well combined. Rinse and pat dry the spare ribs then remove the membrane from the underside of the ribs. You can do this by carefully using a paring knife to loosen it and then working your fingers under it and it should eventually peel off fairly easily. (Refer to the image in the post and do not skip the membrane removing as it won't cook properly if you do not remove it). Rub the ribs with the spice rub and place in the fridge for 45 minutes and up to overnight.
  2. Soak 2½ cups of the wood chips in water for at least 20 minutes. Preheat your smoker to 225-250 degrees. Fill your water pan with some water so it's halfway filled. Add 3 cups of dry chips to your smoker, once it begins to smoke place your ribs in the smoker and smoke for a total of 5-6 hours. Checking every once in a while for the smoke to stop. Once the smoke has stopped emitting from your smoker add 1 cup of dry chips with a handful of wet chips to your smoker and continue smoking for the remaining time. Continue replacing the chips with the same ratio of wet and dry chips when the smoke stops emitting from your smoker until you run out of chips and continue to cook the ribs in your smoker making sure to maintain a temperature of 225-250 for the remaining time (this should leave you with around 3 hours of actual smoking and 5-6 hours total time in the smoker cooking).
  3. Your ribs are done once you can see the ribs poking out from the meat and they loosely wiggle around when you twist them. Let rest lightly tented with foil for 30 minutes and serve immediately or wrap in foil and leave in a oven preheated to 225 degrees for up to 3 hours. (If you leave them in the oven to stay warm for at least another hour the ribs are even better FYI)
Notes about coconut sugar use: I made the coconut sugar optional but I highly recommend not skipping it despite what you might think about the sugar content it's very low since there is only 2 teaspoons which totals at 8 grams of sugar for the whole rack of ribs, so whatever residual sugar is left on the ribs is negligible and the sugar is what helps create the caramelized crust known as the bark around the ribs. Plus coconut sugar is lower glycemic than other sweeteners like honey, cane sugar, maple sugar, etc, so in my opinion it's nothing to worry about.


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  1. Andrea says

    I just bought a propane grill and am now wishing I’d have bought a smoker. How can this be done on propane?

    • chris says


      Turn the burners on one side of your grill on if able. You can remove the grill grate from that side and make a “boat” out of aluminum foil for the wood chips to set right on the burner. Get the grill to a chamber temp of about 250…you may need to start out on HIGH and then lower the propane to maintain the temp. Put the meat on the other side of the grill (not over the flame) and throw the wood chips, prepared as mentioned above, on the burner. Alternately, you can make several wood packets with foil and just use them as you go.

  2. DaddyO says

    Good lookin’ ribs, I will have to find some with the belly on.

    That membrane comes off a LOT easier if you grab it with a paper towel after getting it loose with a butter knife.

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