It was touch and go for a while there, but, I was finally able to retrieve my last set of pictures for this recipe. It’s funny, you get so used to your computer, like a comfortable shoe. This one has been with me a long time so I have to make this post the last one I’ll ever type on”Old Betsy” before I put her out to pasture.
Enough about me, let me tell you about my Sweet And Smokey Ribs With Caramelized Onions #sweetandsmokeyribs.
First, I’m going to show you how to turn your oven into a make-shift smoker.
Second, you need to know, that when you buy ribs, there is some preparation that you need to do before you can begin to spice up your ribs.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 2 hours to overnight
Cook Time: 4 hours 40 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 40 minutes
Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, foil, 2 large mixing bowls, 1 (3-quart) saucepot
2 racks of St. Louis Ribs, each rack 1 1/2 to 2 pounds
2 large sweet onions, thick slices
1 bag of Applewood chips, 3 cups for this recipe
Ingredients For Dry Rub:
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground chipotle powder
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoon ground mustard
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 tablespoons Ancho chili powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano (optional)
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet paprika
Ingredients For Barbecue Sauce:
1 (28-ounce) bottle of barbecue sauce, Sweet Baby Ray’s
2 to 3 dashes of liquid smoke
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup apricot jam
First, turn the rack over and on the underside remove the silver skin. You need to remove this because it will help your spices penetrate through the meat, and this piece of silver skin is not appetizing at all.
Take your fingers at one corner of the backside and start to separate it from the ribs, kind of like you’re starting a piece of tape on a new role you want to get started. Once you grab ahold of it, it should peel right off for you, as you can see in the picture above.
Next, trim off a couple of the end rib pieces. This rectangle style that St. Louis ribs are known to have will ensure for even cooking. Now, if you like those end pieces, you can, by all means, leave them on. It’s also a good idea to trim off some of that extra meat that’s on the backside, as seen in the above picture. I like the ribs to be neatly trimmed of any excess fat as possible. The picture on the left side showing the rack of ribs (without the spice rub) is an example of how I like my ribs to look.
Preheat oven to 275-degrees F.
To make my oven into a makeshift smoker. Add 3 cups of applewood chips to a large bowl. Add enough water to cover the wood chips and let soak for a minimum of 1 hour.
While that’s happening you want to get the spice rub ready for the dry rub. In a bowl, add garlic powder, ground Chipotle powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, onion powder, ground mustard, cayenne pepper, Ancho chili powder, dried oregano (optional), light brown sugar, sweet paprika, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper.
I know that’s a lot of spices but remember it’s for 2 racks of ribs. Whisk all the spices together then rub them all over both sides of the ribs. Place the ribs on the pans and refrigerate for 2 hours, overnight is even better.
Note: All of this can be done in advance.
On each of the baking sheets lay another piece of foil twice the length of the baking sheet. Spread out 1 of the sliced onions on each of the pans. The onions will act as a bed to set the ribs on so the heat can transfer easily around them.
In the pictures following, you can see to fold the extra foil over the ribs and fold up all the sides around the rack to trap in the heat. This will allow the ribs to steam for 1 1/2 hours. Low and slow.
Adjust oven temperature to 230-degrees F.
Next, uncover the ribs, place the wood chips in an oven-safe vessel, and place the wood chips on the lowest rack in the oven and ribs set on the center rack. Continue to smoke the ribs for an additional 3 hours.
I like my ribs to be tender but not to the point where they will fall apart when you cut them. This means they are overcooked. If after the 2 1/2 hours you see the ends of the rib bones are exposed on one end, they are done. If not, continue smoking.
Using an instant-read thermometer check the ribs for an internal temperature of 180-degrees F. With the point of a paring knife stick it between the bones, if the knife comes out easily they’re done.
There’re so many variables when cooking ribs, it just takes some practice. Getting to know your oven is important. The goal is to get the internal temperature of the meat to 180-185 degrees because the barbecue sauce stage is next.
You can see in this picture above shows the rib bones are exposed, and the ribs are still intact. Remove the foil pouches. Transfer the cooked onions to the bottom of the sheet pan and again place the ribs on top.
I’m not making barbecue sauce from scratch but I am adding a few ingredients to my favorite bottled sauce.
In a large mixing bowl, add a bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce. To the sauce, add real maple syrup, liquid smoke for some smokey flavor, and apricot jam. In a saucepot over low heat, simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes. This allows the flavors to marry.
Remove the ribs from the oven. Brush this delicious sauce all over the ribs on both sides. Remove the wood chips, they’ve done their job. Set the oven on broil and put both racks back in but I leave the oven door cracked. The reason for this is so that the sugar in the sauce will burn really quickly so it’s important to keep an eye on them, it doesn’t take long maybe 10 minutes. Take the ribs out of the oven because they’re ready! Serve with some of that awesome barbecue sauce in case you want some extra to dip your ribs in. Talk about finger-lickin’ good!
There you have it, my Sweet And Smokey Ribs With Caramelized Onions.