Rub: 3 tablespoons kosher salt, 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder, 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons granulated garlic, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 2 teaspoons ground black pepper, 4 racks spareribs, each 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pounds , 3/4 cup unsweetened apple juice, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 5 fist-sized hickory wood chunks
Sauce: 2 cups ketchup, 1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 1/4 cup yellow mustard, 2 tablespoons molasses, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon granulated garlic, 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1. Prepare the smoker for indirect cooking with very low heat (225° to 250°F).
2. In a medium bowl mix the rub ingredients. Put the spareribs, meaty side up, on a cutting board. Follow the line of fat that separates the meaty ribs from the much tougher tips at the base of each rack, and cut off the tips. Turn each rack over. Cut off the flap of meat attached in the center of each rack. Also cut off the flap of meat that hangs below the shorter end of the ribs. Using a dull dinner knife, slide the tip under the membrane covering the back of each rack of ribs. Lift and loosen the membrane until it breaks, then grab a corner of it with a paper towel and pull it off. Season the spareribs all over with the rub, putting more of the rub on the meaty sides than on the bone sides.
3. In a small spray bottle combine 3/4 cup apple juice and ¼ cup cider vinegar.
4. Brush the cooking grate clean. Add two of the wood chunks to the charcoal. Smoke the spareribs, bone side down, over indirect very low heat, with the lid closed, until the meat has shrunk back from the bones at least 1/2 inch, 4 to 5 hours. After each hour, add more lit briquettes as necessary to maintain the heat, add one more wood chunk to the charcoal (until they are gone), and spray the ribs on both sides with the apple juice mixture. Meanwhile, make the sauce.
5. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. When the spareribs are done, remove them from the smoker. Brush the racks on both sides with the sauce and wrap each rack in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Return the foil-wrapped racks to the smoker, stacking them on the top cooking grate. Continue to cook over indirect very low heat, with the lid closed, until the meat is tender enough to tear with your fingers, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the spareribs from the smoker and lightly brush the racks on both sides with sauce again. Cut the racks into individual ribs. Serve warm with the remaining sauce on the side.
Ideal grill: smoker, Smoke intensity: strong, Prep time: 45 minutes, Cooking time: 4 3/4 to 6 hours, Special equipment: small spray bottle, Serves: 8
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