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Spares - OK, But Not Great

Dan in StLDan in StL Posts: 252
edited 10:40PM in EggHead Forum
Did my first two racks of spares yesterday. It certainly wasn't anything I'd throw out, but not anything I'd brag about either.

I trimmed them to St. Louis style and removed the membrane. Gave them a light coat of mustard and some Dizzy Dust. They sat for 2-3 hours while I got the grill ready.

Indirect, 225 temp at the grate. Used a Guru and kept temp rock solid throughout. Used 3-4 smaller chunks of hickory for smoke. Ribs were placed on the grate, bone side down. I left them there and didn't turn. Starting at about the 3.5 hour mark I gave them a spritz of diluted apple juice. Did this every 30-45 minutes until I pulled them just under 6 hrs. I sauced them for about 45 minutes before I pulled. them. No foil until I pulled them off to rest.

Even though I removed the membrane, the bone side of the ribs were still very tough - like the membrane was still there. Even the meat side seemed to have a little toughness at the surface. The meat didn't pull back on the bone very much at all. That along with the internal texture leads me to believe the could've been left on longer, or my temp could've been higher. The flavor was very good.

Any thoughts or suggestions on how to improve would be greatly appreciated.



  • JBJB Posts: 510
    Dan- may have been the temp. I usually run em 6-7 hours @ 250-275 and they get very tender, fall off the bone which is the way I like em.
  • AZRPAZRP Posts: 10,116
    When I do spares they always take about 7 hours, maybe you didn't cook them long enough. -RP
  • I did my first set on the Egg yesterday as well following Car Wash Mikes process.

    3 hours 225, 1.5 hours 250, 0.5 hours 275. Spritz every hour with vinegar/apple juice. I did wrap mine in foil to sit for about 45 minutes as I waited for some wings to cook on my small.

    Absolutely the best. 4 guys sitting around the tube not sayng a thing as they wolfed'em down.

    It might have been your temps.

    Thanks CWM, I have found a process and will not deviate.
  • FidelFidel Posts: 10,172
    How much rub did you use?

    The turb sugar in the DD along with the sugars in the apple juice are probably what contributed to the tough exterior. Those sugars caramelize and harden as they cook.

    Otherwise, like others have said, spares usually take 7 hours or longer, and at lower temps like you used probably 8 or 9. Spares typically pull back more so than baby back ribs. For me, this is one of the best indicators that they are ready.



  • i always cook my ribs @225 for about 3hrs,add sauce after 2hrs and always turn out nice and tender.i use a brown sugar rub as well,that carmelize great!!. sounds like you over cooked. ribs dont take 6hrs @225.i will post pics of cook i did this weekend. to show how much brown sugar rub i use.
  • spare ribs, for me, run almost 8 or 9 hours at 250 with no foiling...

    a tough rib is an underdone rib...

    did you let them sit out for 2-3 hours? i know smoke ring is no big deal other than cosmetic, but i like it. going on cold will give you a smoke ring (more of one, i mean).
  • FidelFidel Posts: 10,172
    Are you thinking baby backs maybe? I've never seen a slab of spares get done in 5 hours at 225deg - and I've cooked a lot of spare ribs.
  • Capt FrankCapt Frank Posts: 2,578
    Adding a little cider vinegar to your apple juice spritz may help. Vinegar is a tenderizer, I use about a 4 or 5 part juice to one part vinegar with a shot of wooster, mop and turn about every 1 1/2 hrs. Hope this helps :) .

    Capt. Frank
    Homosassa, FL
  • seems to me that at 225 degrees they would have needed more time to become fallin off the bone tender.....just my thought
  • I am not sure what St. Louis style trim is would some one please explain? Thanks
  • I found a site that explained st louis trim
  • Folks - Great feedback. Looks like I need to give `em a little more time (at least) and maybe adjust spritz.
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428

    I think you sized up your ribs about right. And most agreed that they just weren't cooked long enough.

    The pull back is something to expect and keep an eye on. The spritzing would have helped a little with the surface moisture, so they should have not been dry. I cook higher than 225° actual, but a lot of folks don't. So, it sounds like you are real close to where you want them.

    Belly ribs are definitely harder to cook than back ribs, so try another rack soon.
    Happy Trails

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    Now those are some beautiful ribs.
    Happy Trails

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • WessBWessB Posts: 6,937
    I'm lovin that signature...ribs look awesome to..
  • Thirdeye - great to hear back from you. I do appreciate it. And in case you didn't see it, I did a post about your chicken thighs prep. Basically it said, lotta work, but the payoff is pretty good!
  • When I don't foil, I go 6.5-7 hours, but then again, I usually foil. When I foil, I go 5-5.5 hours and always have tender spares.
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    I did see that post, and the paint scraper makes things much easier.

    I was in you neck of the woods last weekend. Spent most of the time in Columbia & South County but did get to The Hill for some great food and of course calamari.
    Happy Trails

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • HossHoss Posts: 14,600
    St Louis Style is a spare rib that has the ends and bottom trimmed off to make it symetrical.It is still a Spare rib,just trimmed up! ;) Check out Thirdeye's website-Playin with fire and smoke.It gives step by step instructions! ;)
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