I suppose if a person had their druthers, everyday would be like this one. The sun smiling down on the spring garden, the sound of water following its gravity fed life down the walls of the fountain, and a slight breeze, just enough for the grape leaves to offer a gentle morning wave as I walked by. I also suppose, that if a man, being the grilling sort, had his druthers, he would open the refrigerator to find a nice rack of spare ribs ready to be kissed by apple and cherry smoke and heavily rubbed with a nice coating of a dry rub. And that, my friends, is just what happened on this day. And more.
The first order of business though, after removing that pesky silverskin, was to massage the ribs with mustard. Just plain yellow mustard. I suppose there are arguments both supporting and not supporting this practice, and all I can say is, I did it because it entered my mind at the time. No rationale, no great moment of deep, cerebral thought. Just a quick brain flash, so I went with it. It does however, offer a nice “glue” for the dry rub, helping the rub to stick to every available nook and cranny of the ribs.
The rub for today was from Swimmin’ In Smoke, out of Queen Creek, Arizona. It is their award-winning Radical Rib Rub, the hot version. After covering the ribs in the mixture, it was off to the smoker for a few hours of hanging out in the rib sauna, complete with water pan for moisture. Both apple and cherry wood chips were casually thrown on the coals to flavor the meat, but also to alert anyone within smelling distance that there was some good stuff going on over here. After a good two and a half hours my curiosity got the best of me, and I had to peek. Man oh man, I was not disappointed.
The bark was forming, the meat was pulling away from the bones, and that sweet heat aroma was all around. A quick slather of sauce on these “radical ribs”, and then the lid was once again set in place, leaving this griller alone with his thoughts.
But all I thought about was the anticipated caramelization of these ribs, and that first tender, sticky bite. The kind of bite that leaves the rib eater holding a clean bone, just a remnant of what once was. And since I had to spend a little more time waiting for my ribs to do their thing, I decided it may be a good time to have an ice-cold beverage of the hops variety. This practice, a popular one, allows a pit keeper to naturally retain focus while increasing anticipation. We wait and think, and wait a little more. And when the time is finally right, the ribs will let you know. The meat will be so tender that the rack will almost break when lifted. The bones will become exposed, relinquishing their hold on the meat. And the look of the meat will proclaim, “Come and get it”.
Thoughts become things, and as luck would have it, today I was thinkin’ about ribs.
Because Life Is Better Wood Fired