Thursday, August 13, 2009

Steven Raichlen Kansas City Sweet and Smoky Ribs

Steven Raichlen is a genius! I have made ribs in the past, very successfully. But, these were the best spareribs I have ever made. First, a note about spareribs vs the more common (and more expensive) baby back ribs. A few years back, baby back ribs had a very good press agent. There was that goofy song (bet it's going through your head right now), Chili's started making commercials about them, and Fat Bastard did his parody version in one of those Austin Powers movies (now the visual is going through your head). So, baby back became the rib of choice on all the menus. Aside from a BBQ joint, it got very hard to find a restaurant serving spareribs. This resulted in the huge increase in price for baby backs. But let me tell you, spareribs are the way to go. MUCH more meat, when done right, much more tender and lots of flavor. And best of all, they are about a third the price of baby backs.

OK, here's my generic talk about Steven Raichlen and his book...and me... As long time readers know, I am doing my own tribute (rip-off) off the Julia/Julie project, cooking my way through Steven amazing grill guide, HOW TO GRILL. Unlike Julie, I won't be finishing this in a year, but I will be making an item at least once a week.

And this week, my local FABULOUS underpriced grocery store had a terrific sale on Spareribs. Two GIANT slabs for only $9! Two slabs can feed a family of 8 pretty easy... and when trimmed as Steven suggests, you have some perfect leftover chunks to add to beans or chili at a future date (they freeze well). But these, I will be making rib meat casadias tonight!

A word about reprinting recipes... I asked for some advice a few posts back. I understand that it is done, lots of people do it, and there would be no consequences. But, I decided not to reprint any of Steven's recipes from this book. I have several reasons, first and probably most important to readers, I just think that this is a book that should be in everyone's library. Buy the book. It is very detailed, comes highly recommended by someone who cooks on the grill often (me), lots of photos, lots of instruction... Darn near idiot proof. But, most important to me, I want to respect the copyright. In another life, I owned a book store. I have met and socialized with authors, and I have a great deal of respect for the effort it takes to produce a work like this. It may take a couple years, but eventually, I intend to make every single recipe in the book. Starting to reproduce the recipes, intending to do them all would certainly offend me as a book seller, and probably Steven as the copyright holder. Buy the book, Amazon has used copies available for under $7. Worth every penny.

But, let me tell you in general what I liked about this recipe... He gives great details about trimming the ribs. He gives details on trimming the under membrane. He advocates a simple marinade (although he suggests just 1 to 2 hours, I always try to marinade these overnight). Rub, slow cook, sauce at the end... he does everything right (he does not suggest the honey glaze and foil wrap (Texas Cheat) that I always do, but I can forgive that.

I used my coffee rub, so the photos came out with the meat looking black. that is just the bark on the ribs. these were (in all humility) perfect. Moist, tender, juicy and full of flavor ... The rub, the marinade, the sauce, the honey (that I added); everything blended well. Labor day is coming up. Leave the baby backs alone, buy a few racks of spareribs, use the money you saved and buy this book for this recipe alone (well, this and the perfect chicken recipe I blogged about a few days ago).

Kansas City Sweet and Smoky Ribs
The recipe is on page 139
basic introductory instructions with several photos starting on page 135.I cooked these on my smoker, 225 degrees, low and slow, and a beautiful deep smoke ring came out! But, if you have a gas or coal grill, Steven has detailed photo instructions on how to set up your grill to get the same effect.

I made two racks, one I juiced up the rub with some crushed red peppercorns you can see in this photo. I also made a rack for my wife with a more sedate rub.
And the Texas cheat... honey glazing, just prior to wrapping in foil for about 2 hours prior to serving.
Served with beans, Cole slaw and ice cream for dessert!
It was a very good night!

On a scale of 1 to 5, this gets a 5. The perfect sparerib. I really liked everything, and will make this again.

So far, Stephen has given me 9 highly rated recipes and only 1 that I would not make again. So far, very very good.


  1. Oh my, oh my! How drool-inducing is this?

    ...And man, I wish I had a grocery store like yours!

  2. Yeah, I don't mean to rub it in, but it is pretty great. I do plan ahead, there is always a sale going on (this week it's salmon), and I make use of my freezer. Long as I am flexible about what I make, I always have something that I bought cheap. I am very lucky (and cheap)

  3. Oh, YUM! These pictures are almost convincing me that I need a grill.

  4. I want a slab! Oh my goodnes...I want to lick my fingers just looking at these. Hmmm...that's kinda creepy...but you know what I mean. Right.

  5. I totally agree with you on the spare rib deal. I cut mine St Louis style so they end up about the same size as baby backs and the meat is far much flavorful. It seems to take the smoke better.

    As far as reprinting recipes, I understand your point. I try not to repost them unless I know that they have allowed them be to reposted for a television or news segement like when Chris Lilly was on the Today Show back in May and gave out several recipes from his new book.

  6. I've actually owned the book for several years. I'm curious which one you would not make again. For me, it was the hot dogs stuffed with cheese and jalapenos -- too much hassle.

  7. I just bought this book ,I've done the beer can chicken (fantastic), the rum soaked salmon (excellent) and the grilled corn (tasty). I am about to try these ribs next, I am also curious which recipie you wouldn't make again, so far the book looks like a winner from front to back.