Smokeless Ribs for the lay BBQ artist

I am a person who is usually rather long on ideas and short on equipment. I am loathe to spend big bucks on specialty cooking equipment when I'm not sure I'll use it enough nor do I have room to have it sitting around.

So I called up my friend Jeff Frye, he who is better known in foodie circles as "Mr. Bacon" and asked him for some help. You see, we love barbeque, but we don't own a smoker, nor do we really feel ready to invest in one. I'm not looking to compete or to serve the masses any barbeque, but once in awhile Mr. Meat and Potatoes and I would like to have some ribs. GOOD ribs. I wanted to know if it is even legal to cook ribs anywhere other than a smoker, let alone possible.

Mr. Bacon assured me that I could cook awesome ribs sans smoker. In fact, he has a method he calls "smokeless ribs" he was willing to show me. Uh, yes, please. He is quick to note that this is not his "professional" recipe, which of course involves a smoker and a lot of secrets. This is just a process he discovered along the way that works well for the home cook and he was sure we'd like it - even without the benefit of hours on a big honking professional smoker.

Mr. Bacon suggests starting with a "St. Louis Spare" cut of ribs. This is a cut wherein the butcher has already removed all the undesirable stuff from the top of the ribs - stuff the good cook would remove anyway. He explains that this cut of ribs will get more tender than a baby back. The color should be good - very red and fresh. There is no membrane on the back of the St. Louis Spare - which allows for greater flavor influence in the meat.

To begin, coat the entire slab, front and back, with cooking spray. This will help seasonings stick to it. For this, he rubbed the entire thing with 2 Tablespoons of his favorite spice rub. He's not going to tell us exactly what it is. Home cooks can decide for themselves what exact rubs they prefer.

Then it's good to let the meat rest with the spices on it for just a few minutes to let the rub "take to" the meat.

Next, take the slab out to your regular old outdoor grill - either gas or charcoal, and sear it for about five minutes on each side over "medium" heat - about 400 degrees.

Then bring it back in the house and hit it with a "secondary rub". Mr. Bacon believes in building a flavor profile. Doing different things at different stages of cooking will result in deeper, richer flavor. No matter what you are cooking, he says, working on that constant building of flavor is always a good idea, rather than just throwing a bunch of ingredients in a pot and turning on the stove to cook.

The secondary rub consisted of 1 tablespoon of the original rub, 2 tablespoons of white sugar, and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. The sugars, he says, help to break down proteins, and this equals tenderness.

So he pressed all that into the meat, and then he said he was going to let the oven "do the heavy lifting" for about an hour per pound at 250 degrees. He wrapped it snugly in aluminum foil, and in it went.

After the oven part of the show, he brought the meat back out to the grill, where he mopped on his barbeque sauce of choice on each side, again letting the meat rest on the grill over medium heat for about five minutes per side. He also saved the cooking juices from the aluminum foil and mixed them in with the barbeque sauce he was mopping on. "No reason to waste all that good flavor," he explained. And then, voila, ready to eat. People, these ribs fell off the bone. They were juicy, packed with flavor, and delicious. I'm sure Mr. Bacon's signature sauce didn't hurt. Thankfully, he sent me home with some of the super-hot stuff for Mr. Meat and Potatoes, but I'll have to go to Hy-Vee and get myself some of the medium heat stuff, since I am a wuss and would rather not set myself up to spontaneously combust while eating.

I am so happy to know that we can eat ribs now without having to leave the house. And because they don't take a lot of time on the grill (only about twenty minutes total) we can even do them in the chillier months without losing digits to frostbite.

Thanks so much to Mr. Bacon, who showed me this out of the goodness of his warm, tender, and juicy heart. Mr. Meat and Potatoes thanks him too; this saved him about two grand in smokers.


pmrodgers 7 years, 10 months ago

We have been lucky enough to have a long standing friendship with Mr. Bacon and the family. And one benefit, (out of many), has been to enjoy the fruits of their food labor! We have enjoyed being well fed, and have always been left with full tummies and very satisfied palates! If you ever get a chance to dine on Mr. Bacon BBQ, take it. Yummy main meat dishes, and delectable sides.

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