Celebrate July 4th with Curtis Stone’s Apple-Bourbon Barbecue Spareribs Recipe

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There is no way to rush great barbecued ribs, which is one of the reasons why the very best ones turn out juicy and fall-off-the-bone tender. These hickory-smoked beauties start off with an overnight spicing, then are slowly cooked for a few hours. Be flexible with the cooking time, as there are a lot of variables when barbecuing. Serve with corn on the cob and your favorite potato salad.


Recipe Details

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus at least 12 hours marinating time
  • Cook Time: 3 hours and 30 minutes



  • Spice Rub:
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Two 31/2-pound racks pork spareribs
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • Apple-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce (see recipe), warm


Special Equipment:

  • One 13 × 9-inch (or larger) disposable aluminum foil pan
  • 3 cups hickory wood chips, soaked in cold water to cover for 1 hour
  • Clean spray bottle



  1. The day before you cook the ribs, make the spice rub: In a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar, paprika, black pepper, cumin, and cayenne pepper together. Place the ribs on a large baking sheet and rub the ribs with the spice mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, and up to 24 hours.
  2. Prepare an outdoor grill for low cooking over indirect heat: For a gas grill, place the foil pan over one or two unlit burners and half- fill the pan with water. Turn on the remaining burner(s) and heat the grill to 300°F. Spread 1 cup of the drained wood chips on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place the foil directly on the lit burner and wait until the chips are smoking before you add the ribs to the grill.
  3. For a charcoal grill, place the foil pan on the charcoal grate on one side of the grill and half-fill the pan with water. Build a charcoal fire on the other side and let it burn until the coals are covered with white ash and you can hold your hand just above the cooking grate for 4 to 5 seconds. (To check the temperature more accurately, cover the grill and drop a long-stemmed metal candy thermometer through the top vent; it should register about 300°F.) Sprinkle 1 cup of the drained wood chips over the coals.
  4. Combine the vinegar and 3/4 cup water in the spray bottle. Season the ribs with the salt. Place the ribs on the cooking grate over the water-filled pan. (Don’t worry if the ribs extend over the pan, as the pan will still catch the majority of the dripping juices.) Grill, with the lid closed, turning the ribs over and spraying them every 45 minutes or so with the cider mixture, adding another cup of drained wood chips at the same intervals, for about 3 hours, or until the meat is just tender. For a charcoal grill, you will need to add 12 ignited charcoal briquettes (or the equivalent in hardwood charcoal) to the fire along with the chips every 45 minutes to maintain the grill temperature. (Light the charcoal in a chimney starter on a fire-safe surface, or use a small portable grill or hibachi.)
  5. For either grill, do not add more wood chips after the 1 1/2-hour point, as too much smoke will give the ribs a bitter flavor.
  6. Once the ribs are tender, begin brushing them lightly with the barbecue sauce every few minutes or so, allowing the sauce to set before applying the next coat. Continue brushing the ribs with the sauce, turning occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until the meat has shrunk from the ends of the bones. Transfer the ribs to a carving board and let rest for about 5 minutes.
  7. Using a large sharp knife, cut the racks into individual ribs. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with enough of the remaining warm barbecue sauce to coat. Arrange the ribs on a platter and serve with the remaining sauce on the side.
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