How to Make Smoked St. Louis-Style Ribs
Make Ribs Like a Pro
For barbecue pros, the perfect ribs combine smoky, ultra-tender meat and a thin crust, a.k.a. “bark,” that shatters when you bite into it. “That contrast is what you’re after,” explains Tim Rattray, chef at The Granary in San Antonio. Here, Rattray tells how to make pit master–style ribs on an ordinary charcoal grill (no smoker needed). He starts with racks of St. Louis–cut ribs—spareribs trimmed to a uniform size—massaging them with a sweet and spicy dry rub that includes cinnamon and coffee. “The spices are like bass notes for the meat, amplifying its flavor,” he says. Then he smokes the ribs over oak chips, wraps them in foil to keep them juicy while they cook through, and smokes them once more.
Make the Spice Mix
Whisk brown sugar, pepper, chile powder, cinnamon, cumin, coffee and salt.
Get the Smoke Going
Sprinkle oak chips over hot coals on one side of the grill for indirect cooking.
Apply the Rub
Season the ribs with salt, then sprinkle with the spice mix and rub it into the meat.
Smoke the Ribs
Set the seasoned ribs on the grill opposite the heat. Cover and cook at 250° for 2 hours.
Steam the Ribs
Wrap the ribs in foil and cook them for another 2 hours for supertender, juicy meat.
Perfect the Crust
Unwrap the ribs and cook for 1 hour more, until they’re crusty all over.