Sunday, September 15, 2019

First Thing He Smoked: Chinese Spiced St. Louis-style Ribs

Hurray, Wes is now the proud owner of his very own, fancy schmancy smoker.  He has long felt like he grew out of his cheap cabinet style smoker, which he had been using when we were living at our apartment.  Apparently, having a yard meant that he could grow out of the cabinet smoker and get something legit.  Ever since we got this house, Wes has been casually talking about adding a smoker to the back.  Yeah, like the black cylindrical kind with that burns those little wood pellets.  It reminds me of Wes musing about getting a grill when we first toured our apartment and discovered that there was a patio.  Oh, how times have changed.

As per usual with Wes, a deal can be found as soon as he receives the green light from me to purchase.  He bargained with someone on OfferUp (why have we never used this app before?!) for a brand new Traeger Timberline 850.  Stolen, perhaps.  But that's aside from the point.  After he assembled it, everything and anything edible went into that smoker.  From a piece of mozzarella in our caprese salad, to whole sea bass, to peaches.  Then, my uncle invited us to his place for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival for dinner and even though Wes usually will make crispy pork (my uncle’s favorite), this time I suggested making something in the new smoker. We already had some St. Louis style ribs in the fridge, so we decided to give them a Chinese flare.  We ditched the paprika and black pepper and opted for Szechuan peppercorn, five spice, ginger, white pepper, and cumin. Then, we topped them with Szechuan-flavored garlic chips that Wes toasted in the oven, sprigs of cilantro, and green onion. When I took my first bite, I knew that this would be a hit with my family. All of the Chinese flavors were complemented by the aroma of hickory and applewood.

Here is the recipe that we made up for the rub.  

3 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4-1/2 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorn
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder

Wes cooked these particular racks more than he normally would because he knows that my family really likes fall-off-the-bone barbecue, but he personally prefers the meat to have more of a pull.  After cooking the ribs in the smoker for about three hours with some intermittent sprays of cider vinegar, he took them out and wrapped them in foil with a little honey and brown sugar.  Then, back into the smoker they went for another two hours or so.  They were indeed mouthwateringly tender!  For the record, Wes would really cook it for about two hours for the first stage (unwrapped) and then about an hour and a half for the second stage (wrapped) to achieve the firmer texture that he likes.

So far we are getting a lot of use out of this 2-day-old smoker and we hope that it will see many more pounds of meat and wood pellets. And whatever else Wes decides to randomly throw in there.

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