I’ve had some crazy ideas in my time, but trying to smoke pork ribs in our tiny apartment probably wasn’t the best idea ever. Nonetheless, being the adventurous soul that I am, I decided to go for it and… well… I do not recommend doing this in your own home.
This whole thing came about because I wanted to make the smoked pork country ribs for that burger I wrote for the Heinzelmännchen brew pairing. Last time I smoked something for the blog, we were living in this big house with a big backyard so it wasn’t a problem; this time around though, Jess and I are in this little shoebox of an apartment, so I had to get creative.
I worked at a country club after high school and we used to in-house smoke small batches of trout and pork all the time and it worked great because the hood system pulled all of that smoke out and away from the kitchen. Well, in this apartment, the oven doesn’t have a hood system and even if it did, it probably wouldn’t be strong enough to pull it out anyway… but that doesn’t even matter, because oddly enough, that wasn’t my first bright idea.
For my first attempt, I placed my soaked cherry wood chips in the bottom of a broiler pan, put the top on, placed my seasoned ribs on the openings, put the whole thing under a big stainless steel bowl, and set it on top of the oven range. Genius right? And hey, it worked like a charm! There was tons of smoke!
But… not just in the kitchen: in the living room, in the bedroom, in the bathroom, you name it. Tons of smoke everywhere. I thought maybe setting up some fans to blow the smoke out the back door would help but that just made things worse. So, on to attempt #2! I tried to minimize the smoke by putting the broiler pan in the oven and while it was definitely the lesser of two evils, the smoke still managed to sneak out and take over our apartment once more. So we did accomplish our goal! But we also have an apartment that, a week later, still smells like burnt wood chips. Oops.
To prepare the BBQ sauce:
½ cup Southern Comfort
1 cup sweet tea
1 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp granulated garlic
¼ tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp molasses
4 Tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp raw sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 14.5oz cans of organic diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp BBQ spice
2 Tbsp cornstarch
¼ cup water
Combine all ingredients (except the cornstarch and water) in a medium saucepan over medium heat and allow to reduce for about an hour. While it’s reducing, be sure to stir with a whisk often (so it doesn’t burn on the bottom) and scrape the sides (so that the caramelized bits get back into the sauce). Once done, use a spatula or spoon to press the liquids through a mesh strainer and then return to high heat to thicken with your cornstarch slurry (should only take about 2-3 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
To prepare the ribs:
Country Mountain BBQ Rub from this post
2 lbs of pork ribs
4 oz of beer (I happened to use Abita Andygator Helles Doppelbock)
3 Tbsp agave
1 cup of water
NOTE: If you want to smoke your ribs – the traditional, non-smoky-apartment way of course – you certainly can, but they’re still delicious without the smoke.
First, in a separate bowl, combine your beer, agave, and water to make a nice braising liquid and set aside. Then rub your ribs liberally with the Country Mountain BBQ spice mix.
If you’re going to smoke your ribs first, now’s the time. Then, smoked or not, the next step is to place your ribs in a shallow baking dish, pour the braising liquid over your ribs, and then cover the whole thing with foil. If you smoked your ribs first, bake in the oven for 1.5-2 hours at 350 degrees; if you didn’t smoke your ribs, bake for 4 hours at 350 degrees and then uncover and bake for another 30-45 minutes.
When done, you can do a couple of different things: you can just cover your pork ribs with the Southern Comfort sweet tea BBQ sauce and eat like, well, traditional ribs or you can slice or shred the ribs, cover with sauce, and bake for another 15-20 minutes to really enhance that flavor.
Either way, enjoy (and stay tuned for the next part of this monster Heinzelmännchen burger)!