Photo Ryan Girard
The key to mouthwatering back ribs starts with a fresh cut of meat: Alberta Venture publisher and BBQ master Ruth Kelly recommends purchasing Alberta pork from your local butcher shop. If the rack is particularly fresh, the membrane may be difficult to remove during preparation. In this case, slice open the membrane between each of the ribs, allowing the flavour to permeate on both sides. While prepping, heat your ceramic smoker to 250°F.
Start by slathering mustard on the ribs. Kelly recommends Vancouver’s House of Q Slow Smoke Gold, or if you’re feeling adventurous, Edmonton’s The Jam Lady’s horseradish mustard. But plain old ballpark mustard will also do. Adding mustard locks in the pork’s moisture, enhances the flavour and ensures the rub adheres to the meat.
Next, add a rub of your choice: Kelly chooses a homemade mixture of chili, paprika, brown sugar, salt, mustard and a touch of lemon pepper for added vibrancy.
Before smoking, let the pork come to room temperature, ensuring the meat does not bring down the overall temperature inside the smoker. Then, cook for between four and five hours. Resist the urge to constantly check progress.
Within the first hour, check your ribs once to ensure they are not burning and to add a splash of apple juice for taste.
When the time is up, glaze the ribs with your choice of barbecue sauce. Kelly uses a standard Kansas City style sauce with an Albertan twist, substituting honey for maple syrup and traditional ketchup for The Jam Lady’s chipotle ketchup mixture.
Once the ribs are glazed, pop the meat back in the smoker for 25 minutes. Cooked ribs should be 155-160 F. Lastly, let the ribs sit on the counter for 25 minutes before serving, allowing the juices to be reabsorbed.