Cooking a bunch of chicken sometimes leaves you wanting some BBQ ribs in your life. Consequently, that’s how I was feeling after preparing for a BBQ competition a while back.
I’d been using my 22″ Weber kettle grill a lot at the time… experimenting with chicken thighs, getting ready for the Viejas BBQ competition. Cooking on that grill brought back memories of what it was like before I purchased a dedicated smoker and how I used to make excellent BBQ ribs on just that one simple piece of equipment. However, not everyone has a smoker, but most folks have a kettle-style charcoal grill of some sort to cook on.
So in honor of the standard charcoal grill and making delicious BBQ Ribs, here is a little something for you to try. The main thing to remember here is to have all of your coals on one side of the kettle. You don’t even need that many briquettes, just one charcoal chimney full is about all you’ll need. I only had one rack of ribs, but you can quickly do up to four on your kettle if you use a “rib rack” … not to be confused with a “rack of ribs.” A rib rack will hold your ribs vertically on your grill or smoker to maximize the horizontal space.
Here is a video that demonstrates the techniques involved in BBQ’n your pork spare ribs on a kettle smoker:
A couple of beers to keep you company while you cook (optional)
A bag of charcoal
Some wood chunks of your choice
First, you will need to prepare your ribs by removing the membrane on the inner side of the rack of ribs. You can trim them Kansas City or St. Louis style if you wish.... or you can do like I did and just take off the flap of meat on the membrane-side of the rack. Check out this video on trimming your ribs.
After your rack of ribs is trimmed, coat it with a generous amount of your favorite BBQ rub on all sides. Steps 1 & 2 can be done a day ahead of time. Be sure to refrigerate your meat and make sure that it is stored in such a way that it doesn't come into contact with any other food.
Remove the top grate from your grill. Light one charcoal chimney starter full of coals. After the coals have ashed over, pour them onto one side of the kettle. Offsetting the lit charcoal is crucial because it sets up your BBQ for cooking with indirect heat. It is also important to be extremely careful here because those coals are very hot.
Add a couple of chunks of hickory over the coals, replace the top grate, cover your grill and close the vents. Wait about 15 minutes.
Add your ribs to the top grate of your grill opposite the hot coals. Cover the grill and wait four to five hours depending on your heat. Try to keep your grill temperature between 225º and 250º F. It's o.k. if you run a little hot, just check on your ribs periodically and make sure that they aren't getting too toasty. If your grill is running a little cold, open up the vents a little and let ins some air.
Pop open a cold one and put your feet up.
You may wish to glaze your ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce or some honey about a half an hour before removing them from the grill.
Remove your ribs from your grill and let them rest for 10 to 15 minutes. A sheet pan is perfect for this. Cut up the rack of ribs, serve and enjoy.