Recipe courtesy of Ray Lampe, on behalf of the National Pork Board

Ingredients

  • 3 pork back ribs (racks, about 6 pounds total)
  • cherry (and hickory wood chunks, for smoking/smoke-grilling)
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar (raw sugar)
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons jack daniel (’s® Tennessee Whiskey)

Directions

  1. Several hours before cooking, cover and soak wood chunks in water, using two-thirds cherry wood and one-third hickory.
  2. To make the rubs, in separate small bowls, stir together the ingredients until well combined; set aside. For the spritz, combine the ingredient; transfer to a clean spray bottle and set aside.
  3. If necessary, remove the thin membrane from back of each rack of rib and trim away any excess fat; discard membrane and pat ribs dry with paper towels. Lay the ribs, bones side up and generously spray with the spritz. Sprinkle ribs evenly with half of the cooking rub, pressing spices into the meat; let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Turn ribs over and generously spray with the spritz. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining cooking rub, pressing spices into the meat. Cover and refrigerate the ribs about 30 minutes so the spices can begin to penetrate the meat.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare and preheat a smoker or large grill for 275° F indirect heat. Drain wood chunks. Scatter drained wood chunks on charcoal, or place in a smoker box.
  5. When wood begins to smoke, place ribs on smoker or grill grate, bone side down. Close lid and cook the ribs for 2 hours until the ribs are nicely browned, adding more drained wood if necessary.
  6. On work surface, lay out 3 double-thick sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil. Lay one rib rack on each double-thickness of foil. Generously, spray both sides of each rib rack with the spritz. Close up the foil packages pressing out as much air as possible. Do not seal the packages tightly (they need air to slightly “breathe”).
  7. Return ribs to the smoker or grill and cook, covered, for 45 to 60 minutes or until tender. (Check tenderness by piercing meat with a toothpick. The toothpick should go in and out very easily.) Unwrap the ribs and discard the foil and any juices. Return the ribs to the smoker or grill and cook, covered, for 10 minutes more.
  8. To serve, transfer ribs to a platter and generously spray both sides with the spritz. Sprinkle both sides with the finishing rub. Loosely cover with foil and let stand for 5 minutes. Cut each rack into 3 pieces to serve.
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