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Why Smoky Ribs Rule the World BBQ Recipe

Food-writer, broadcaster, and founder of the Australian Barbecue Academy, Bob Hart, tells us why smoky ribs rule the world…


All Purpose Barbecue Rub

For the rub, combine:

  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons celery salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground allspice

Barbecue Sauce

For the sauce, mix:

  • 1 ½ cups tomato sauce with ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • a splash of liquid smoke
  • whisk in 2 tablespoons of the rub mixture



Prepare two racks of ribs – ideally baby back ribs if you have an enlightened butcher – by removing the tough membrane from the back of each rack by lifting one corner with a knife, grasping it with the help of a paper towel and ripping it off in one piece. Or if you have a good butcher, ask him to do it for you. This is important because it allows the rub and sauce flavours to penetrate. Coat both sides of each rack with plenty of my all-purpose rub, place in a baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.


Prepare a Weber kettle for semi-indirect cooking or, if you have one, fire up a Smokey Mountain cooker or an offset barrel smoker. In the case of the Weber kettle, pile lit Heat Beads® BBQ Briquettes to one side of the grate, leaving room on the other side for a large foil tray. This means that, roughly, your charcoal grate will be half coals, half tray. Then, half fill the tray with water.


Position your rubbed ribs above the water tray. If you have a rib rack, so much the better, but it is not essential. If you don’t have a rack you will have to more the ribs around from time to time. Put plenty of wet hickory chips on the charcoal, cover the kettle and allow to cook and smoke gently for about 90 minutes, topping up the hickory chips at least once. This should ensure the ribs are nicely bronzed by the smoke. At this point, they are about half way there.


For a Smokey Mountain or barrel smoker, simply continue to cook, easing the heat back a little, for another couple of hours, or until the ribs can, literally, be pulled apart. But for a kettle, take a shallow baking tray with a cake rack that fits inside, and cover the bottom of the tray with water. Position the ribs on the rack and cover the tray (and the ribs) tightly with foil. Return the rack to your Weber, positioning as before, and freshening up the coals if necessary, for at least another hour. Check to ensure the ribs are meltingly tender, and remove from the heat.


Place the ribs on a board and coat well with barbecue sauce. Slice into single ribs and serve with additional barbecue sauce.
Now eat one. And another. So, now, do you understand what smoked pork ribs are all about?


Note: these two recipes deliver products you will want to keep at hand all summer. The rub is superb: this quantity will take care of two racks of ribs. But I suggest that, while you’re at it, you at least quadruple the recipe. It is an all-purpose rub, really. The uncooked barbecue sauce echoes the spice notes of the rub and, again, works on most grill dishes.

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