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Almost Competition Pork Ribs

This recipe is for TWO 3 to 3-1/2 pound racks of pork spare ribs. I get them at Sam's, BJ's or Costco/Price Club. They have consistent quality at a reasonable price. This is enough to feed four hungry folks. Baby back and St. Louis-cut ribs may also be used.  The night before...

The ribs should be trimmed of all hard fat and the membrane removed from the bone side. Just run a butter knife between the membrane and the bone lifting the membrane from the bone. Using a paper towel to keep your fingers from slipping grab the membrane and rip it away. I trim the flap of meat from the membrane side of the ribs and I square-up the narrow end of the rack by removing the thin piece of meat on the end. (Save the trimmings for the beans recipe below.)

Rub both sides of the ribs with a coating of the following mixture:

  • 1/2 cup ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher or sea salt
  • 4 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Place the ribs in a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight. (Thanks to Smoke & Spice by Cheryl and Bill Jamison, published by The Harvard Common Press, Boston, Massachusetts, $14.95, for the inspiration for this rub. If you are only planning to buy ONE barbecue book, this is it!) More barbecue book titles are listed at the end of this page.

The next day... Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature for about an hour.

Start a lump charcoal fire in your Webber Grill, Weber Smokey Mountain smoker or offset smoker. As the charcoal turns gray add hardwood chunks or water soaked wood chips. Bring the smoker temperature to between 225 and 250 degrees by adjusting the vents. Hold this temperature throughout the smoke/cooking by adding more wood and charcoal.

Put the ribs in the cooker and cook them in heavy smoke, for at the first 2 hours, (three hours is better if you like a lot of smoke flavor). Add wood or chips 2 or 3 times during the smoking. The ribs should take about 6 hours total or until the rack "cracks" when you flex it. The meat SHOULD NOT be falling off the bone. The ribs should have a dark "crust". Try not to knock it off when handling them, that is where the flavor is!

To finished the ribs paint them with your favorite BBQ sauce 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking.

If you like juicier ribs, remove the ribs from cooker and place them on a sheet of aluminum foil, brush with barbecue sauce (the recipe follows) and wrap. Hold in a dry cooler or put the ribs back in the smoker until serving time. Be advised that the ribs may turn to mush if held wrapped for too long.

Ribs can be made a day or two ahead and reheated in a warm oven, on the grill, or for a couple of minutes in the microwave.

Serve with barbecue beans, cole slaw, potato salad, cornbread, and plenty of cold beer. Enjoy!

Ed Roith is showing the New England boys how to cook a whole pig - so naturally I had to try it! It was good!


He Man Barbecue Sauce

  • 1-1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant beef broth or 2 cubes
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. If not using immediately, cool and refrigerate. Will keep several weeks. May be frozen in an ice-cube tray and stored as cubes. Makes 1 quart.

Baked Beans

  • 1 pound small white beans (about 2 cups), picked over and soaked in water for at least 4 hours.
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
  • 1 cup BBQ meat trimmings (from the ribs, shoulder or brisket - cooked or uncooked ) with excess fat removed, cut into small pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon rib rub powder (from the recipe above)
  • 1/2 cup Molasses
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 dashes of Texas Pete or other hot sauce (optional)
  • Water to cover beans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. (May be cooked on the top shelf of your smoker while you're cooking a pork butt.)

Drain beans and place in bean pot with the rest of the ingredients. Add water to cover beans by 1/2 inch, cover bean pot, and place in oven for 30 minutes. At the end of 30 minutes turn oven down to 250 degrees and continue cooking for 5 1/2 hours or until beans are tender.

Check every two hours or so and add a little water if beans look dry. Remove the cover from the pot for the last hour so the beans will brown slightly and the liquid will thicken.

I enjoy these beans at breakfast with a slab of sourdough bread toasted or with a sesame seed bagel.


The easy way to cook a whole chicken on a gas grill!

Split a whole 3 pound chicken by cutting up the middle of the back bone. Press the chicken flat, and rub both sides, plus under the skin around the breast, with the following rub:

  • 1/3 cup onion powder
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 4 teaspoons dried thyme flakes
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons black pepper
  • 1 dried habanero chile, chopped fine or 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce (optional)

Mix the spices thoroughly in a bowl. Store remainder in a covered jar in a cool pantry.

Light both sides of your gas grill and leave them on high for ten minutes or until the lava rocks are hot. Shut off one side of the grill and turn the other side to its lowest setting. Place the chicken, skin side up, on the off side of the grill. Close the cover and let it cook for 1 hour. Raise the cover and rotate the chicken 180 degrees, close the cover and finish cooking for another hour. Test the thigh for doneness with an instant reading meat thermometer. About 170 to 180 degrees is okay - or pull the wing, it should come off easily. Remove the chicken from the grill and let it rest for at least ten minutes before slicing.

If you would like a BBQ dipping sauce for the chicken try this:

Chicken Barbecue Sauce

  • 3 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs. grated ginger
  • 2 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Chinese oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • Black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes. Cool and serve on the side. This freezes well.

Barbecued Chicken on a Weber Grill

I've been fooling with different chicken recipes for several years. Here's one marinade that always gives tasty results.

Chicken Marinade

  • 1 quart apple juice
  • 1/3 cup Kosher salt
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pancake syrup
  • 1/8 cup A-1 Steak Sauce
  • 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Texas Pete or Tabasco sauce

(Inspiration for this chicken marinade came from the book Barbecue America, listed below.)

Combine ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool. Marinate chicken breasts for 2 or 3 hours. Chicken thighs may be marinated up to 10 hours. Remove the chicken from the marinade and sprinkle the chicken rub shown above on both sides. Allow the chicken to rest, uncovered while the fire gets going.

Start a small charcoal fire (enough charcoal to burn for one hour) on one side of the Weber grill. When the fire is ready place the chicken skin side down on the grate only to the edge of the fire (my weber will hold about 15 thighs leaving room for the fire). The chicken near the fire will cook the fastest so rotate the pieces every ten minutes - moving those in front to the rear, etc.

Cover and cook for 30 minutes skin side down then turn chicken and cook for 15 more minutes or until the internal temperature is 168 -170 degrees. During the last 15 minutes paint the skin with equal parts on your favorite BBQ sauce and honey. Enjoy!

Smoked Fish

There's always an abundant supply of fresh fish where I live. In the spring I catch fresh mackerel from the beach near my home. All summer there's Striped Bass and in the fall there's Bluefish. These are my favorite fishes for smoking. This recipe will also work with Salmon, Trout, and even Cod fish.

If you catch the fish yourself; while they're still alive, cut through the throat at the gills to bleed them. Put them head down in a bucket so they will pump out as much blood as possible. Gut, wash and chill the whole fish until you can fillet them.

Early in the morning of the day you are going to smoke wash 4 to 6 skin-on fillets in fresh water and place them in a brine made from:

  • 1 quart cold water
  • 1/3 cup Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black, red or other peppers (spices) to taste

Mix this together in a zip-lock plastic bag. Add the fish and squeeze the bag to eliminate the air and to hold them under the brine. Brine the fillets in the refrigerator from 2 to 4 hours (longer if the fillets are over 1" thick).

Remove the fillets from the brine and rinse in cold water. Wipe dry with paper towels. Place them, skin side down, on several thickness' of dry paper towels and let them air dry for several hours. The surface is dry enough when your finger sticks to the flesh. The longer they dry the better.

Hot smoke over a 225 degree wood fire for about 2 hours or until the fillets are firm to the touch (like medium rare steak.) They should be golden and firm on the outside and soft and mushy on the inside.

Slice across the fillet using the skin to hold it together. Get your favorite crackers, pop open a beer, and enjoy!

Smoked Salmon Marinade

When I was young and foolish I worked for several summers on an offshore lobster boat - we caught thousands of pounds of lobsters on the edge of the continental shelf - about 300 miles south and east of Boston. The boat's captain, an amiable fellow named Frank Kenny, loved smoked fish. He said he had been holding on to this recipe for many years (he said a fellow soldier gave it to him when they were stationed in Alaska). When I told him I had a smoker at home he gave me the recipe with the promise that I'd bring him several sides of my home-smoked salmon each time we went to sea.

You really can't go wrong with this recipe. Everyone will love it.

Marinade #1 - Enough brine for two large, skin-on, Salmon fillets.

To 1/2 gallon HOT water add:

  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbs. garlic powder
  • 3 Tbs. coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. crushed bay leaves

Stir until dissolved. Allow brine to cool in a plastic bag. Add salmon fillets, brine for 3 - 4 hours in the refrigerator. Remove fillets and air dry for at least 2 hours. Smoke in a single layer for about 1 hour at 250 degrees until firm and golden, or until the internal temperature of the fillet is 135 degrees.

This 2nd marinade came from an old Maine guide. He always had a big slab of smoked salmon in his refrigerator - to go with the crackers and a nip of ginger brandy to ward off the cold!

Marinade #2 - Enough brine for two large Salmon fillets.

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

Stir until ingredients are dissolved. Marinate fillets overnight. Air dry fillets and smoke as directed above.

All recipes are from the collection of Dave Frary.

BBQ Books I like, use, and are "good reads" (in no particular order):

The Fearless Chef , by Andy Husbands and Joe Yonan, published by Adams Media, Avon, Massachusetts, $16.95. This book is from one of the best chefs in New England. Andy, along with Chris Hart were the driving force behind the "UFO Social Club" and now the "iQue" barbecue team (of which I'm a member). Although this book is not necessarily about cooking BBQ it's a showcase for Andy's talents. We've used many of his recipes in the "Chef's Choice" category at BBQ contests. Try the chicken chicharrone with oregano first. It's great!

Legends of Texas Barbecue , by Robb Walsh, published by Chronicle Books LLC, $18.95. This book is a time machine taking the reader back through the lives of some famous, and infamous, Texas BBQ personalities. There's a lot of interesting recipes and advice packed between the covers. I've read it several times just for the pure joy of reading. It makes me wish I lived in Texas!

Charcuterie , by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn, published by W.W. Norton, $35.00. I've read everything that Michael Ruhlman has written. In other books he gave me a peek inside the CIA and into the kitchen of Brian Polcyn's restaurant. This book is about making, smoking and curing all types of bacon, sausage, pates, and terrines. It's well written and has many simple recipes to get you started. Some recipes are illustrated. Now I have to find a butcher that carries pork bellies. I love this stuff!

Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue , published by Harvard Common Press, $18.95. Paul covers all the bases with hundreds of good recipes for producing championship BBQ and all the sides that go with it. His tip about "wet aging beef" is worth the price of admission. A good how-to book.

Dr. BBQ's Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook , by Ray Lampe, St. Martin's Griffin, New York, $16.95. I competed at several of the same contests that Ray competed in. He always turned-in excellent BBQ and won many prizes. This book is about Ray and his path to producing world-class BBQ. He reveals many of his rub and sauce recipes along with some great side dishes. A good book for the first-time competition cook - his brisket recipe is one of the best!

Peace, Love and Barbecue , by Mike Mills and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe, Rodale Press, $19.95. This book is about Mike's lifelong journey down the BBQ trail. It's an enjoyable read that's made even more pleasurable by the fact that I know a lot of the folks mentioned. Many really good recipes.

Smoke & Spice by Cheryl and Bill Jamison, published by The Harvard Common Press, Boston, Massachusetts, $14.95, As I said at the beginning of this page, if you buy ONE barbecue book, make it this one! You could spend several enjoyable years trying all the great recipes in this book.

The Thrill of the Grill , by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby, published by William Morrow, New York, NY, $24.95 and worth ten times the price! I have prepared just about every recipe in this book and all were great! Only one failure, the chili recipe with lots of beer misses the mark. Next time I'll make regular chili and drink the beer.

John Willingham's World Championship Bar-B-Q , published by William Morrow and Company, New York, NY, 1996. $27.50. This guy has won all the trophies for BBQ and I use his world championship brisket recipe several times a month. It's never failed. Les Kincaid also contributed several really good pork and shrimp recipes to this book. Check him out!

Barbecuing Grilling & Smoking , by Ron Clark, Bruce Aidells & Carole Latimer, published by the Cole Group, Santa Rosa, CA, 1995, $11.95. This is the kind of book your aunt would give you for your birthday. That's how I got my copy! It contains a lot of Better Homes and Gardens-type recipes, safety tips, and the section of campfire cooking would be best left with the Girl Scouts. I saw a copy in the remainder bin at the super market for $5.00 -- a good deal at that price! If you want a change, try any of the brined chicken or pork recipes -- they are very good.

Barbecue America, by Rick Browne & Jack Bettridge, published by Time Life Books, 1999, This book is very well written and photographed. Some of the recipes are new, but most have been around the barbecue circuit once or twice. The recipe for Real Fajitas is very good. Too bad the photos aren't captioned!

Coyote's Pantry , by Mark Miller and Mark Kiffin, published by Ten Speed Press, 1993. If you've ever been lucky enough to have eaten in Santa Fe's Coyote Cafe you know how consistently delicious the food is. In Coyote's Pantry the chef's share their recipes for salsas, chutneys, salad dressings, sauces, rubs, marinades, glazes, and much more.


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