The ribs of St. Louis
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A little more than a decade ago, St. Louis ribs were simply grilled, then slathered with a Kansas City-style sauce. Nowadays, influences from great barbecuing regions like Texas have introduced slow-and-low smoking and a less liberal attitude about just how much sauce to lay on those ribs.
The key to St. Louis ribs is the cut, basically a trimmed-down pork spare rib, which makes them uniform in shape. Here’s a handy handy step-by-step guide, but if you have a favorite butcher, they’ll know what you’re looking for.
Because not everyone has a smoker, our St. Louis rib recipe uses the old-school two-zone or indirect grilling method, which is just having an area near the heat source on the grill for the meat to hang out while cooking. For charcoal-fueled grills, the coals are on one side, the ribs on the other, and gas grills usually have a mechanism that allows you to light just one side, allowing for a slower cooking time.
We’re also including a recipe for oven-barbecued ribs and, of course, the sauce to go with it all.
Grilled St. Louis Ribs
— 2 racks St. Louis-cut bone-in pork ribs
— 6 oz. Traeger Big Game Rub
— 8 oz. apple juice
— 1 bottle Traeger Apricot BBQ Sauce
Peel off membrane from the back of ribs. Apply an even coat of rub to the front and back of ribs. Let sit for 20 minutes (up to 4 hours if refrigerated).
When ready to cook, start the grill on the smoke level with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 225 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes.
Place ribs bone-side-down on grill grate. Cook for 1 hour.
Put apple juice in a spray bottle and spray the ribs after they have cooked for an hour. Spray every 45 minutes thereafter.
After 4 1/2 hours, start checking the internal temperature of the ribs. Ribs are done when internal temperature reaches 201 degrees F.
When ribs are done, brush a light layer of sauce on the front and back of the ribs. Let the sauce set for 10 minutes on grill.
After sauce has set, take ribs off the grill and let rest for 10 minutes.
To serve, slice ribs in between the bones.
— From Traeger Grills and Todd Fritz from “The Dan Patrick Show”
Oven Barbecued St. Louis-Style Ribs
The sauce takes a few hours to simmer down in this recipe but if you don’t have the time or desire to make your own, check out our shopping list below for some great ready-made Kansas City- and St. Louis-style sauces. You can also make the sauce the night before.
Makes 4-6 servings
— 3-4 lbs St. Louis style ribs
— 1-2 t. garlic salt
— 1 c. water
— ? c. apple cider vinegar
— ? c. Worcestershire sauce
— 1 c. ketchup
— ¼ c. sugar
— ¼ c. maple syrup or molasses
— 1 T. hot sauce
— 1 t. salt
— 1 t. chili powder
— 1 t. dry mustard
— 1 t. celery seed (be careful; too much can be overpowering)
— 1 t. smoked paprika
— ½ t. black pepper
Mix all of the ingredients (except ribs) in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Simmer on very low, uncovered, until it is reduced to your preferred thickness.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut the ribs apart and place in an oiled roasting pan or casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes with the bone side up.
Drain the grease off the ribs, then pour the sauce over the ribs. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour, then uncover and bake for 30 minutes, basting the ribs 2-3 times during the last 10 minutes.
Your Shopping List
Get more recipes and some barbecue history with these cookbooks:
— "Barbecue Lover’s Kansas City Style: Restaurants, Markets, Recipes & Traditions" by Arie A Davis
Sauce up your ribs with these varied, ready-made sauces:
— Kansas City Barbecue Sauce Collection with a silicone basting brush