Memorial day is one of the biggest outdoor cooking days of the year and while you have lots of options, I am going to show you how to make my onion and cola smoked spare ribs as well as smoked brats and smoked boudin.
I hope all of you have a wonderful time with family and friends as you think upon and honor those no longer with us.
Look no further than the smoking meat newsletter archive to find plenty of smoking meat recipes as well as methods and help on how to smoke meat in your smoker or grill.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 5-7 hours
- Smoker Temp: 250°F
- Meat Finish Temp: Done when tender
- Recommended Wood: Mesquite and cherry Mix
- 1 rack of spare ribs
- Apple cider vinegar
- 2-liter bottle of cheap cola
- 4 medium yellow onions
- 16-20 cloves of garlic
- Jeff's rub recipe (purchase the recipe here)
- Jeff's sauce recipe (purchase the recipe here)
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Rinse the ribs under cold water and lay meaty side up on a cutting board
Remove any extra clumps or layers of fat then flip the rack of ribs over to bone side up.
Remove the flap of meat that runs along the bottom of the ribs if has not already been trimmed off by the butcher. This helps it to cook more evenly.
Remove the membrane (thick plastic stuff) by prying up with your fingers or a sharp object such as a butter knife. Once you are able to get ahold of it, use a paper towel or some catfish skinning pliers to get a good grip and pull it clean off. If it tears, just get another good hold on it and finish the job.
Removing this membrane is important as it allows the smoke to get to the meat better and makes for more enjoyable eating later.
I usually apply a thin coat of yellow mustard to the ribs but decided this time to use apple cider vinegar to wet the surface instead. I am not sure this little bit of vinegar will tenderize the ribs like some say, but figured it would not hurt.
Sprinkle my rub onto the bone side of the ribs. More on the meat and a little on the bone part for presentation.
Let the ribs sit for about 5 minutes to allow the rub to mix with the apple cider vinegar and get that familiar “wet” look.
Note: you can flip the ribs over and season the other side now or you can wait and season them after placing the ribs on top of the onions and garlic in the next step. Doesn't matter when.. as long as you do it.
Slice 2 onions into ¼ inch slices and separate the rings into the pan.
Place 8-10 garlic cloves all over the pan in with the onion rings.
Pour cola to about ½ the depth of the pan.
Now it is time to cut the rack of ribs in half and lay one of the halves bone side down on top of the onions.
Pour some apple cider vinegar onto the rib half and use a brush or your hands to spread it all over the ribs making sure the entire surface is wet.
Sprinkle on a generous amount of my rub onto the top (meaty) side of the ribs.
Let it sit for a few minutes while the rub and vinegar combine to form a paste. (this is a great time to go get the smoker ready).
Note: For brevity, I did not show the 2nd pan.
Prepare a 2nd pan in the same way as the first using the other half of the rack of ribs, 2 more onions, 8-10 more garlic cloves and more cola.
Normally we smoke at about 225°F and if you can't get any hotter than this, that is fine. If you CAN go hotter, I recommend shooting for about 250°F to cause the cola, onions and garlic to steam into the ribs. This will obviously cut down on the amount of time you would normally cook the ribs.
Get your smoker lit or plugged in and setup to maintain 250°F or as close to that as you can muster.
I recommend having enough smoking wood to last at least 4 hours if possible.
Once your smoker is preheated and maintaining the coal temperature, you are ready to move forward.
Place the pan of ribs on the smoker grate.
If your smoker has a water pan, use it and keep it full throughout to promote a nice humid environment in the smoker.
Continue adding smoke for at least 4 hours or until the ribs are completely done cooking.
For ribs, we do not use temperature to determine when they are done however, I did check the ribs with my Thermapen when they were super tender and I was reading about 195°F .
I recommend bending the ribs, pulling the bones apart and even going so far as to taste one of the ribs to allow you to make a determination of “done”. They are done when they are as tender as YOU and YOUR family likes them.
I like mine really tender, others like them to be less so.
In spite of what some know-it-all pitmasters might try to tell you, there are NO RULES about this unless you are competing in a barbecue contest.
Most back yarders I have met, want them falling off the bone tender and, like I said, you and your family are the judge at your own house.
When they are done, you can wrap them in foil, then in a towel and hold them for several hours in a cooler if you need to or you can go ahead and slice them up and divvy them out.
If you don't like onions, try using cobs of corn or even potatoes instead to hold the ribs up off the bottom of the pan. The corn/potatoes will benefit from the cola and the rib juices as well.
If you want the ribs to be more tender, consider covering the ribs with another foil pan of equal size, upside down for about an hour after about 3 hours in. Remove the pan and finish the ribs uncovered.
Substitute an equal amount of sliced sweet peppers for one of the onions.
If you like saucy ribs, apply sauce a time or two during the last 30 minutes of the cook time.
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How to Smoke Brats and Boudin
Brats and even links of boudin are very easy to smoke, but you can easily overcook them and make them tough or dry them out. Follow these simple instructions, and they will turn out perfect every time.
I like to place the brats and/or boudin on a Bradley rack. You can also just lay them directly on the smoker grate rounded side up (that was a joke).
Pictured at left are german style brats, the two links at top right are boudin and the ones at bottom right are American style brats.
Preheat the smoker to 225°F
Make sure you have enough smoking wood for 2 hours.
Smoke the brats for exactly 2 hours and they are done.
The boudin is done when the skin is bite through crispy but the inside is not dried out. This is usually about 2 hours but I have went as long as 2.5 hours before.
Throw on an extra link and try it at 2 hours. If it's not done, go a little longer.
Note: this is one of the great reasons for smoking boudin instead of steaming them, microwaving them or any of the other ways that folks heat them up. The skin, when smoke cooked, is completely edible, has a slight crispiness to it and there is no need to peel off the skin.
Serve and Enjoy!
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Onion and Cola Smoked Spare Ribs
With a base of onions, garlic and cheap cola, you can infuse spare ribs with lots of flavor while allowing the steam from the onions and cola to keep the ribs nice and moist while they smoke.
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 5 hours
- Total Time: 5 hours 30 mins
- Yield: 3-4
- Category: Entree
- Cuisine: Hot Smoking
Prepare Ribs For Smoking
- Rinse ribs under cool water
- Remove any large areas of fat on meaty side of ribs
- Flip the ribs over and remove the membrane from the bone side
- Wet the ribs with apple cider vinegar
- Apply a generous coat of Jeff's rub to the bone side
- Turn the ribs over and apply the vinegar and rub to the meaty side
- Cut the rack of ribs in half
Prepare the Onion/Garlic Base
- Slice two onions into ¼ inch slices and separate the rings
- Place the rings and 8-10 garlic cloves in a large foil pan
- Pour enough cola to fill the pan to about ½ full
- Lay one of the rib halves on top of the onions and garlic
- Prepare a 2nd pan in the same manner for the other half of the ribs
Smoking the Ribs
- Set up smoker to cook at about 250°F
- Place the pan(s) of ribs onto the smoker grates
- Cook for 5-6 hours or until they ribs are as tender as you like them