When it comes to BBQ. I think of Texas BBQ. Low and slow. The seasoning is kept simple too! Salt and pepper are the main players in the rub. While sweet paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder are just background notes. No sauce is added to the ribs except when they’re served and that is the discretion of the person who is eating the ribs. It’s the flavor of the meat and smoke that is sought after. There should be a beautiful smoke rib visible as evidence of the long smoking and cooking process. While there are a million ways to BBQ ribs. The Texas method makes tender, moist, and full flavored ribs every time. That is, if you know how.
As someone who loves to cook and bake. So much so, it’s what I do for a living! I love to learn too. With all things food related there are so many processes, techniques, skills, and execution that I’m looking to learn more about. When I was in my chefs apprenticeship one of the chefs I trained under, Chef Hass said, “When you think you know it all it’s time to quit.” What he said still rings true for me today. I feel like I’ll never learn enough about food and that what drives me to keep learning as much as I can.
Just this past week I came across a teacher who provided me with the best fundamentals about Texas BBQ. Aaron Franklin of “Franklin BBQ” in Austin, Texas. Aaron in conjunction with KLRU-TV, Austin PBS Station have put together the best videos “BBQ with Franklin” about smoking ribs, pork butt (shoulder), and beef brisket. Aaron is a natural teacher. Teaching about the basics from choosing the cut of meat, trimming, preparing the seasoning, applying the rub, choosing the wood, preparing the smoker, firing, time and temperature of smoking, and the finishing of the smoked meat. He does this with a ease about him. It is this approachable way of teaching that allows the best learning to happen. He give you ideas, concepts, knowledge, and the freedom to learn by watching and doing. Know making mistakes is part of learning, so don’t be afraid to jump right in to the fire.
With Aaron’s advice and the knowledge I’ve learned over the years. I made the best smoked pork spare ribs this past weekend. The key points for me were:
- Trimming the spare ribs (never did this before, except to remove the membran on the underside of the ribs)
- Building the proper fire
- Using dried wood that adds good smoke flavor (Sweet Maple)
- Maintaining the proper temperature (275°F.) at the grate surface
- Smoke ribs for 2 (ish) hours (BBQ is not a perfect science)
- Wrap and continue to smoke for another 2 (ish) hours
- Remove and rest for at least 1 hour before cutting (in a cooler, they relaxed and where still hot after 3 hours)
- You’ll have to expect a minimum of 6 hours for this process
- Oh yeah….drink beer like Aaron!
I used fallen Sweet Maple wood to smoke with. Maple has a light sweet smoke that doesn’t overwhelm the meat. The best part the wood is free, coming from the falling trees that surrounds my neighborhood I get as much as I want and I clean up the neighborhood at the same time. This also gave me a chance to break in a brand new off set smoker. The Brinkmann Trailmaster Limited Edition Smoker. I found it easy to cure, fire, and maintain temperature. The learning came from checking the actual temperature of the surface of the grates where the meat is place within the smoker. I found the temperature gauge on the smoker door to read 75°F. hotter than the grate surface. Once I confirmed this I was able to feed the fire to maintain the proper heat. The only “recipe” I can impart with you is for the seasoning rub. The rest can be learned by watching Aaron’s videos. I hope you are inspired to do some smoking this weekend. Oh…don’t forget stock up on plenty of “liquid refreshments” for those hours you’ll be tending to your meat.
- 1/4 cup Kosher Salt
- 1/4 cup Freshly Coarse Ground Black Pepper
- 2 Tbsp. Sweet Paprika
- 1 tsp. Onion Powder
- 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
- Combine all the ingredients in a shaker (I used an spice container with a sprinkling lid)
- I only used about a 1/4 of this seasoning rub for 4 racks of spare ribs. I suggest to wet your finger and sprinkle the rub on and taste to get an idea of how much to use. It’s always better to have to season more later that have your meat over seasoned.