Pork ribs are the holy grail of slow-smoked barbecue. Don’t boil the ribs prior to slow smoking; it pulls a lot of flavor out of the ribs. Just take your time and the “low and slow” process will pay off. Allow five to six hours for St. Louis Cut (SLC) ribs and three to four hours for baby back ribs.

Set up the grill so that one side is hot and the other is not. For gas grills, use only one burner. Put a disposable aluminum pan with water on top of the hot burner(s). If it has only one burner, put the water pan between the meat and the burner. For a Weber kettle, put about half a chimney of unlit coals in the grill on just one side, and put about half a chimney of fully lit coals on top of them to get to 225 F.

1 slab of fresh St. Louis Cut (SLC) ribs. For two adults.

For baby back ribs, get 1 whole slab per adult.

8 Tbsp. of your favorite dry rub

1 c. of your favorite barbecue sauce

Rinse the ribs in cool water. If the butcher has not removed the membrane from the underside, do it yourself. Pat dry with a paper towel.

Sprinkle enough rub to coat all surfaces but not so much that the meat doesn't show through.

Preheat your cooker to about 225 F and try to keep it there throughout the cooking process. On a charcoal grill, adjust the air intake dampers at the bottom to control heat on charcoal grills.

Add 4 ounces of wood chips. On a gas grill, put the wood as close to the flame as possible. On a charcoal grill, put it right on the hot coals.

Put the slabs in the cooker on the indirect side of the grill, meaty side up, and close the lid.

When the smoke dwindles after about 30 minutes, add another 4 ounces of wood. That's it, no more wood chips. There is no need to flip the slabs during the cooking process.

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Check to see if they are ready by using the bend test by picking up the slab with tongs and bouncing it gently. If the surface cracks, it is ready.

Now paint both sides with your favorite barbecue sauce and put it directly over the hottest part of the grill in order to caramelize and crisp the sauce. Stand by the grill and watch, because sweet sauce can burn quickly!

Serve with baked beans, cole slaw and bread.

Pair this with Naughty Oak’s Mr Red (Red Rye Ale). Coming in at 5.5% abv and 20 IBUs, this is a complex and malty beer with a bready rye body -- a nice compliment to the ribs. The hop aroma takes a backseat to reveal this beer's layering of high-quality malts.


John David Finley is a freelance writer and author of the cookbook, "Sacred Meals from our Family Table," which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at sacredmeals@comcast.net.