August 28, 2009

Applewood-Smoked Country Ribs

Glazed Ribs

Country style pork ribs have great flavor, but they can be difficult to cook well. Hot smoking is an excellent way to prepare country style ribs or any other protein.

Start the ribs by brining them for better flavor and to retain moisture. I used enough apple juice to cover the ribs in a bowl, then added a splash of chardonnay, about a teaspoon of sea salt, and a pinch of garlic powder. I let them sit in the brine for about an hour. Larger cuts will require more time and more salt. The rule-of-thumb is 20 parts liquid to one part salt, by weight.

Smoking doesn't require a lot of expensive equipment. You'll need some sort of heat source--a barbecue grill, stovetop, or oven will work fine. If you're smoking on the stovetop or in the oven, you'll also need some sort of covered pan to use as a smoker. If you don't have a dedicated smoker, simply cover all interior surfaces of a pan and lid with foil. Any bit of pan not covered will be discolored by the smoke, usually permanently.

You'll also need something to generate flavor--wood chips, herbs, or tea, for example. If you use wood chips, start by soaking them in liquid for about half an hour. I used applewood chips and soaked them in apple juice and chardonnay. If you're using dried herbs or tea, you'll need to add sugar to generate plenty of smoke.

Hot smoking cooks food rather quickly because of the use of high heat, while still imparting good smoky flavor. If you're using an outdoor grill, get it warmed up and get the smoke going before you begin to cook your food. If you're doing it on the stovetop you'll put the flavor components on the bottom of the foil-lined pan, then put the protein on a rack over the flavorings, then cover and apply heat.

Smoke the food on a rack until it reaches an appropriate internal temperature--170°F/77°C for pork. The color of smoked meat doesn't change nearly as much as with more direct cooking methods. Pork, for example, remains pink in the interior.

To finish the ribs, I made a simple apple glaze by reducing until nicely thickened about 2 cups of apple juice, a splash of pinot gris, a pinch of garlic powder, and a cinnamon stick. After the thickening, I removed the cinnamon and added the ribs to glaze them. Served at room temperature, the ribs made a sweet and smoky appetizer.


  1. Oh my goodness. This looks incredible! A must-do for fall football parties! Oh, this is now on my list of must tries! Now all I need is a party to make all of these recipes! :o)

  2. Thanks! It's been my experience that once people know I'm cooking, a party just seems to form.

  3. Hi, Gareth, I've been reading your blog for a few months now (found you through a comment on Michael Ruhlman's site) and enjoy reading you!

    As it happens, my husband is planning a smoking session this weekend (some brisket and a couple of pork butts for the freezer) . . . I think he's just going to have to make some room for country ribs now! Your apple glaze sounds great!

  4. Thanks Kris! A nice smoking session is a great time to take care of those extra bits like the country ribs. Let us know how they turn out.

  5. Football and smokin those ribs. Thats Sunday at my home with the husband smokin and I'm doing the potato salad.

  6. [...] (butts).  We barely found room to do some boneless ribs for dinner – with a wonderful apple glaze.  We made room, [...]

  7. Gareth, I just wanted to drop another note to let you know that we we did, in fact, do these ribs - sort of. My husband picked up some "boneless country ribs" at the supermarket - they were in cry-o-vac, so imagine my surprise when I opened the package, and the "ribs" were actually pork loin. I'm sure, technically, they came from a part NEAR a rib, but still . . . awfully lean, I think, for this, and then we got busy with other things while the meat was smoking (canning season, you know!), so it cooked a bit longer than I would have liked.

    The glaze, though, oh, the glaze! The apple juice with the splash of wine and a cinnamon stick (I forgot the garlic!) it was just absolutely fabulous - I wanted to lick the plate!

    Thank you again, and I'll definitely be doing this again!

  8. That's good to hear. I'm glad you enjoyed the glaze.

  9. I have some fresh cut from the pig country style pork ribs in my fridge right now, waiting to be cooked for dinner tomorrow. Questions: about how long are we talking, re: smoking to temp? And if I do this on my stovetop, will my house fill with smoke? We're not real well set up for ventilation...

    Sounds delicious though! I hope to make it tomorrow!

  10. Smoke to an internal temp of 160° for safety, or 150-155° if you want
    better, moister ribs and you trust the pork is safe. If you have a
    sacrificial pot with a tight-fitting lid or an indoor smoker you shouldn't
    have problems with smoke. If you use a pan either be prepared to dispose of
    it afterwards--the smoke will turn it black--or line it completely with
    aluminum foil. There will be a small amount of smoke, but probably not
    enough to set off a smoke detector if you open a window.

  11. I used this technique/recipe this weekend and they turned out fantastic. Thanks!