Coffee BBQ-Sauced St. Louis-Style Ribs
3 to 4 servings
St. Louis ribs are spare ribs trimmed of their skirt and tips. They have spareribs’ usual robust pork flavor plus the rectangular shape of baby backs.
You can cook them by the indirect method (for about 5 hours) at low heat (about 225 degrees). But if you are feeling adventurous, try direct-grilling them. The trick with direct grilling is to pay close attention. You can’t wander off for long periods of time, as you can with smoking, because the ribs can burn. But the reward is a wonderful charcoal flavor and a lovely crispness on the ribs.
Mastering direct grilling is more about feel than about following directions. Watch for a mahogany color and a somewhat limp texture; when picked up by a set of tongs, the ribs will gently fall on both sides. Although most ribs recipes tell you to put the lid on and keep from peeking, the direct-grilling method requires that you check your ribs about every 10 to 20 minutes as they cook.
A little blackening is both natural and desirable. But if the ribs start burning too much, use tongs to move them to the cool side of the grill. Leave the ribs on the cool side for 30 minutes or so with the lid down, then move them back to finish cooking.
You may close the lid, but make sure you keep your fire steady.
Some of the most fabled barbecue restaurants in the country grill their ribs, such as Dreamland in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Once you get the hang of it, you might prefer to do so as well.
In this recipe, the ribs are sauced as they cook. If you sauce the meat too early, it will burn. Add the sauce during the last 10 minutes or so of cooking. Smoke Signals’ coffee-chili sauce (published in August 2010) is used here, but any barbecue sauce you like will do.
MAKE AHEAD: The seasoning blend can be composed well ahead of time; sprinkle it on the ribs just before you’re ready to cook them. The barbecue sauce should be made and refrigerated a day in advance so its flavors can marry. It can be refrigerated for up to 1 month. The ribs need to marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours. From Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin.
For the ribs