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Smoked Pork Spare Ribs with the Masterbuilt® Gravity Series



When it comes to smoking pork, selecting the right wood combination is essential for creating flavorful results. The choice of wood plays a crucial role in infusing delicious flavors into the meat, elevating the overall experience of smoking pork.

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Masterbuilt Gravity Series® Digital Charcoal Grill + Smoker

The Masterbuilt® 1050 Smoker and Grill Gravity Series1 is renowned for its exceptional performance as a charcoal smoker and grill. This versatile and innovative cooking appliance offers an array of features that make it a standout choice for outdoor cooking enthusiasts.

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One of the key highlights of the Masterbuilt® Gravity Series (1050 model shown on photo) is its gravity-fed charcoal system. This design allows for precise temperature control and consistent heat distribution throughout the cooking chamber. The gravity-fed system ensures a steady supply of charcoal, eliminating the need for constant monitoring and replenishment. This feature not only simplifies the smoking process but also contributes to the creation of deliciously smoked and grilled foods.

Additionally, the Masterbuilt® boasts a spacious cooking area, providing ample room for smoking and grilling various cuts of meat, vegetables, and more. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or simply enjoying a casual cookout, the generous cooking space accommodates a considerable amount of food, making it ideal for gatherings of any size.

Another notable aspect of the Masterbuilt® is its durability and craftsmanship. Crafted with high-quality materials, this smoker and grill is designed to withstand the rigors of regular use and the challenges of outdoor cooking environments. Its sturdy construction ensures longevity, making it a reliable and long-lasting investment for passionate pitmasters.

The Masterbuilt® offers convenient features that enhance the cooking experience. These include adjustable vents for precise airflow control, an integrated temperature gauge for monitoring cooking temperatures, and removable ash pans for easy cleanup. These thoughtful additions make using the smoker and grill a breeze, allowing users to focus on creating mouthwatering dishes without any unnecessary hassle.

The Masterbuilt® Smoker and Grill Gravity Series is a top-notch charcoal smoker that combines innovative design, exceptional performance, and user-friendly features. Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or a beginner looking to elevate your outdoor cooking skills, this smoker and grill is sure to deliver impressive results and help you achieve that authentic smoky flavor that makes your dishes truly memorable.

Other Masterbuilt® Gravity Series models include the Gravity Series 8002 (which has model that comes with a griddle3 and Gravity Series 5604.

Mouthwatering Smoked Pork Ribs

In this guide, we will explore the art of pairing different wood types to enhance the flavor profile of your smoked pork. Each wood variety brings its unique characteristics, ranging from smoky and robust to sweet and fruity undertones. By carefully choosing wood combinations, you can unlock a world of delectable flavors that enhance the natural succulence of pork.

One popular combination is hickory and fruitwood, such as apple or cherry. This pairing offers a balance of robust smokiness and subtle sweetness, resulting in a harmonious fusion of flavors that enhances the pork’s natural qualities. Alternatively, combining applewood with oak creates a well-rounded profile, blending fruity notes with a more neutral smoke, allowing the pork’s flavors to shine.

For those seeking a touch of sweetness and depth, the combination of maple and pecan wood provides an irresistible duo. The subtle caramelized flavors of maple complement the nutty essence of pecan, enveloping the pork in a symphony of taste. Another option is mesquite and cherry wood, which create a bolder partnership. This combination infuses the meat with a distinctive smoky character alongside hints of delightful fruitiness.

Oak and cherry, a more subdued yet balanced pairing, offer a mild smokiness that blends seamlessly with gentle sweetness. This combination results in a refined flavor profile that highlights the pork’s natural qualities without overpowering them.

Discovering the ideal wood combination is a process of experimentation and personal preference. Adjusting the amounts of each wood and fine-tuning the smoking process will help you find the perfect balance that resonates with your taste buds.

By understanding the nuances of wood combinations for smoking pork, you can elevate your culinary creations and embark on a flavorsome journey that will leave you savoring every succulent bite of perfectly smoked pork. So, fire up your smoker, select your preferred wood combination, and enjoy the delightful results of your smoking adventure.

Smoking pork spare ribs on a Masterbuilt® vertical charcoal smoker/grill can yield delicious and tender results.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you achieve mouthwatering smoked pork spare ribs:



Prepare the ribs

Start by removing the thin membrane (also called the silver skin) from the bone side of the ribs. You can use a butter knife or a paper towel for better grip and pull it off. Trimming excess fat is optional.

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Apply the dry rub

Generously season both sides of the ribs with your chosen dry rub. Make sure to coat the ribs evenly, gently patting the rub into the meat. Let the ribs sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to penetrate.

When applying the dry rub to the ribs, it’s crucial to remember to coat not only the surfaces but also the edges of the meat. This ensures that every bite is packed with flavor and enhances the overall taste experience.

It’s essential to exercise caution when it comes to the salt content in the rub. Different rubs can vary in their saltiness, and you certainly don’t want to accidentally over salt the ribs. Carefully check the salt levels in each rub you use, and if necessary, taste a small amount of the rub to gauge its saltiness before applying it to the ribs.

If you find that the rub lacks adhesion, or you want to enhance its ability to stick to the meat, you can consider using a binding agent. Mustard is a popular choice as it adds a tangy flavor and helps the rub adhere to the meat. However, there are other binding agents you can use as well. For example, worcestershire sauce, honey, or even apple cider vinegar can all serve as effective binding agents. Choose one that complements the flavors you desire and helps the rub adhere evenly to the ribs.

Avoid using olive oil as a binding agent because it may create a barrier that can hinder the penetration of smoke into the meat. Instead, consider using alternative binding agents such as mustard, Worcestershire sauce, honey, or even apple cider vinegar. These options can help the dry rub adhere to the meat while allowing the smoke to infuse the flavors effectively.

Remember to coat the edges of the meat along with the surfaces, and carefully check the salt content in the rub. Adjust the amount of salt if needed, tasting the rub if necessary, as salt levels can vary among different rubs. By using an appropriate binding agent and ensuring proper seasoning, you can achieve well-seasoned and smoky ribs that are sure to be a delight to your taste buds.

Fill the Charcoal Chamber and Preheat the smoker/grill

Fill the charcoal chamber with your preferred charcoal, ensuring a sufficient amount for the smoking duration. Add smoke wood of choice, such as chunks of chuck for enhanced flavor, and stack them along with the charcoal to ensure consistent smoke throughout the entire smoking process. This will create the smoke flavor for your ribs. Additionally, sprinkle some wood chips in the ash bin as needed to maintain a steady smoke production. You can experiment with different types of wood to find the flavor profile you prefer.

Adjust the control interface to a temperature of 225°F (107°C). Allow the smoker to burn for about 10 minutes or so after it reaches the target temperature. Meanwhile, fill the water pan with water and place it in the smoker/grill.

Arrange the ribs

Place the ribs on the smoker/grill, bone side down. Make sure there is enough space between the racks to allow the smoke and heat to circulate around them. Close the lid and let the ribs smoke for approximately 4 to 5 hours.

Maintain temperature and moisture

Throughout the smoking process, The Masterbuilt™ Gravity Series will ensure the temperature stays within the desired range. You can use a digital thermometer to monitor the temperature for a second reading. Also, keep an eye on the water pan to ensure there is enough water to maintain moisture. Refill it with hot water if needed.

Temperature and Moisture Control

Maintaining optimal temperature and moisture levels is crucial for achieving tender and flavorful pork ribs. To help retain moisture and regulate the cooking process, you can employ the technique of wrapping the ribs in butcher paper or heavy-duty aluminum foil. Before wrapping, you can add a layer of flavor-enhancing ingredients such as butter and brown sugar at the bottom of the wrapping. Placing the rib bones facing up allows the meat to cook evenly and ensures the delicious juices are retained.

Throughout the smoking process, it’s important to monitor the temperature closely. Use a reliable thermometer to ensure the smoker stays within the desired range. This will help ensure that the ribs cook evenly and reach the desired level of tenderness. Adjust the airflow and the amount of charcoal or wood chips as needed to maintain a consistent temperature.

In addition to temperature control, it’s essential to keep an eye on the water pan. The water pan serves the purpose of adding moisture to the smoking environment. Check the water level periodically and refill with hot water if needed. This will help prevent the ribs from drying out and contribute to a moist and succulent final result.

When implementing these temperature and moisture control techniques, you can create an ideal smoking environment for your pork ribs, resulting in tender, juicy, and flavorful meat that will be a delight to savor.

Check for doneness

After about 4 to 5 hours, check the ribs for tenderness. They should have a nice bark (outer crust) and the meat should easily pull away from the bone. You can also use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat, which should be around 195°F to 205°F (90°C to 96°C).

Poke through like butter

When using a thermometer probe to check the doneness of pork ribs, a helpful indicator is the desired texture. Ideally, the probe should glide through the meat with minimal resistance, much like poking through softened butter. This texture signifies that the ribs are properly cooked and tender, indicating that they have reached the desired level of doneness. By using this technique, you can ensure that your pork ribs are perfectly cooked and ready to be enjoyed.

Meat pulling away from the rib bones

There are a few visual cues you can look for as well. In addition to the desired texture mentioned earlier, visually inspect the ribs for another sign of doneness: the meat should be pulling away from the rib bones. As the ribs cook and become tender, you’ll notice the meat starting to shrink and expose more of the bone. This visual indication suggests that the ribs are reaching their optimal level of tenderness and are nearing completion. By combining the tactile test of the thermometer probe with the visual check of meat pulling away from the bones, you can ensure that your pork ribs are cooked to perfection, resulting in a delicious and enjoyable eating experience.

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In addition to using a meat thermometer to check for doneness, another method to assess whether the ribs are done is by evaluating the overall flimsiness of the rack. When the ribs are fully cooked, they should exhibit a certain level of tenderness that can be assessed through touch.

To check for flimsiness, carefully lift the ribs with tongs or a spatula, supporting them from one end. The ribs should flex and bend easily, and the meat should feel tender when pressed or squeezed gently. If the rack feels stiff or rigid, it may indicate that the ribs need more time to cook.

It’s important to note that while tenderness is a good indicator of doneness, it doesn’t replace the accuracy of using a meat thermometer. The internal temperature of the ribs should still reach around 195°F (90°C) to ensure they are fully cooked and safe to eat. By combining both methods—checking for flimsiness and using a meat thermometer—you can achieve ribs that are both tender and cooked to perfection.

Optional glazing

If you prefer glazed ribs, you can brush them with your favorite barbecue sauce during the last 30 minutes of cooking. This will add a sweet and sticky finish. Be sure to monitor the ribs closely to prevent the sauce from burning.

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Rest and serve

Once the ribs are done, remove them from the smoker/grill and let them rest for about 10 to 15 minutes. This crucial step allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in enhanced tenderness and flavor.

For an optional extra step, you can also choose to cool the ribs inside a cooler for a few hours. This technique, known as “resting in a cooler,” further allows the flavors to meld and the meat to relax, resulting in even juicier and more succulent ribs.

After the resting period, proceed to slice the ribs between the bones and serve them hot. Whether you prefer to enjoy them as they are or with a side of barbecue sauce, these perfectly cooked and rested ribs are sure to impress your guests and satisfy your taste buds.

Remember, smoking times may vary depending on factors such as the thickness of the ribs, the outside temperature, and the efficiency of your smoker/grill. It’s always a good idea to use a meat thermometer to ensure they reach the desired level of tenderness. Enjoy your smoked pork spare ribs!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should people place water pan in the smoker?

Placing a water pan in the smoker serves several purposes that can contribute to a successful smoking experience. Here are the main reasons why people use a water pan:

Moisture control

The water pan helps maintain a moist environment inside the smoker. As the water heats up, it evaporates and creates a gentle steam. This steam helps prevent the meat from drying out during the long smoking process. Dry air can cause the meat to become tough and less flavorful, so the water pan helps retain moisture and promote juiciness.

Temperature regulation

The water in the pan acts as a heat sink, helping to stabilize the temperature inside the smoker. The evaporation process absorbs heat, which helps prevent sudden temperature spikes that could result in overcooked or burnt meat. The water pan acts as a buffer, creating a more consistent and controlled cooking environment.

Smoke distribution

The water pan also plays a role in distributing smoke evenly throughout the smoker. The water vapor carries the smoke particles, ensuring that they are dispersed throughout the cooking chamber. This helps infuse the meat with a more balanced and consistent smoky flavor.

Easy cleanup

The water pan can also catch drippings and prevent them from falling directly onto the heat source or the smoker’s bottom. This helps with cleanup, as it reduces the chances of grease and drippings causing flare-ups or creating difficult-to-clean messes.

It’s important to note that not all smokers require a water pan, and some smokers may have specific instructions regarding its usage. However, in the case of the Masterbuilt® vertical charcoal smoker/grill, the water pan is commonly used to enhance moisture, temperature control, and smoke distribution.

Remember to regularly check the water pan during the smoking process to ensure that there is enough water. Refill it as needed to maintain the desired level of moisture.

How do I keep the spare ribs moist when it is uncovered?

When smoking spare ribs, keeping them moist can be a challenge, especially when cooking them uncovered. However, there are a few techniques you can employ to help maintain moisture throughout the smoking process. Here are some tips:

Apply a marinade or brine

Before seasoning the ribs with the dry rub, you can marinate or brine them. Marinating involves soaking the ribs in a flavorful liquid mixture, while brining involves soaking them in a saltwater solution. Both methods help enhance moisture retention and impart additional flavors to the meat.

Mop or spritz with a liquid

During the smoking process, you can periodically mop or spritz the ribs with a liquid of your choice. This can be a simple mixture of water, apple juice, vinegar, or a combination of these ingredients. Mopping or spritzing adds moisture to the surface of the ribs, helping to keep them moist. It also helps enhance the flavor and promotes the development of a beautiful bark.

Use a water pan

As mentioned earlier, using a water pan in your smoker can create a moist environment. The evaporating water helps prevent the ribs from drying out. Place the water pan near the heat source, but not directly under the ribs. The steam generated will circulate around the cooking chamber and help maintain moisture.

Wrap the ribs

If you’re concerned about moisture loss, you can choose to wrap the ribs in foil or butcher paper during a portion of the smoking process. This technique, often referred to as the “Texas crutch,” helps to retain moisture and accelerate cooking. Once the ribs have reached a desired level of tenderness, you can unwrap them to allow the bark to form and add texture.

Rest the ribs

After the ribs are cooked, it’s essential to let them rest for a short period before slicing and serving. Resting allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more moist and flavorful final product.

Remember, even when cooking spare ribs uncovered, they can still turn out moist and tender with proper preparation and attention to the cooking process. By incorporating these techniques, you can help retain moisture and achieve delicious results.

How much dry rub should I put so that it doesn’t block the smokey flavor?

When applying dry rub to your spare ribs, it’s important to strike a balance so that it enhances the flavor without overwhelming the smoky taste. Here are some guidelines to help you achieve the desired balance:

Start with a moderate amount

Begin by applying a moderate amount of dry rub to the ribs. You want to ensure that each rib is evenly coated with the rub, but not excessively so. Use your hands to gently massage the dry rub into the meat, ensuring it adheres well.

Adjust to personal preference

The amount of dry rub you use can vary depending on personal taste preferences. Some people prefer a more pronounced spice rub flavor, while others prefer a milder taste that allows the smokiness to shine through. Start with a moderate amount and adjust based on your preferences for future cooks.

Consider the strength of the rub

Different dry rubs have varying levels of intensity in terms of flavor and spiciness. If you’re using a particularly strong or spicy rub, you may want to use a slightly lighter hand when applying it to avoid overpowering the smoky flavor. Mild or balanced rubs can be applied more generously without overwhelming the smokiness.

Let the smoky flavor develop

Remember that the smoky flavor will develop over the course of the smoking process, so even if the initial application of dry rub seems substantial, the smokiness will gradually infuse into the meat. The rub will complement and enhance the smoky flavors rather than mask them.

Taste and adjust

If you’re unsure about the amount of dry rub to use, you can always taste a small piece of the seasoned meat before it goes into the smoker. This will give you an idea of the overall flavor profile and help you make adjustments if needed.

Ultimately, finding the right balance between the dry rub and the smoky flavor is a matter of personal preference. By starting with a moderate amount and adjusting based on your taste preferences, you can achieve a harmonious blend of flavors that highlight both the dry rub and the smokiness of your spare ribs.

What’s the best wood combination flavor for pork?

When it comes to smoking pork, there are several wood combinations that can impart delicious flavors. The choice of wood ultimately depends on personal preference and the specific flavor profile you want to achieve. Here are some popular wood combinations that work well with pork:

Hickory and Fruitwood

Hickory is a classic choice for smoking pork, providing a robust and smoky flavor. Pairing it with fruitwoods like apple or cherry can add a touch of sweetness and a mild, fruity aroma, complementing the pork’s natural flavors.

Apple and Oak

Applewood is known for its slightly sweet and fruity flavor, which pairs exceptionally well with pork. Combining it with oak, which offers a more neutral and balanced smoke flavor, can create a well-rounded profile that enhances the pork without overpowering it.

Maple and Pecan

Maple wood brings a subtle sweetness to the smoked meat, giving the pork a rich and slightly caramelized flavor. Pecan wood offers a mild and nutty taste, creating a complementary combination that adds depth to the pork’s overall taste.

Mesquite and Cherry

Mesquite wood has a strong and distinctive flavor, providing a bold smokiness that pairs well with pork. Mixing it with cherry wood, which contributes a sweet and mildly fruity taste, can create a dynamic blend that adds complexity and richness to the pork.

Oak and Cherry

Oak is a versatile wood that offers a mild and balanced smoke flavor. It can be combined with cherry wood to create a gentle, sweet undertone without overpowering the pork’s natural flavors. This combination works well for those who prefer a more subtle smoke profile.

The intensity of the smoke flavor can vary based on factors such as the amount of wood used, the duration of smoking, and personal preference. It’s a good idea to experiment with different wood combinations and adjust according to your taste preferences until you find the ideal flavor profile for your smoked pork.

How long to smoke pork ribs at 225?

The recommended smoking time for pork ribs at 225°F (107°C) can vary depending on several factors, including the size and thickness of the ribs, personal preference for tenderness, and the type of smoker being used. As a general guideline, you can estimate a smoking time of approximately 5 to 6 hours for spare ribs and 3 to 4 hours for baby back ribs at this temperature.

However, it’s important to note that these are just estimates, and the key to achieving perfectly smoked ribs lies in monitoring the internal temperature and tenderness of the meat. It’s recommended to use a meat thermometer to check the doneness of the ribs. The ribs are typically considered done when they reach an internal temperature of around 195°F (90°C) and when the meat has pulled back from the bone, indicating tenderness.

Throughout the smoking process, it’s essential to maintain a consistent temperature of 225°F (107°C) in your smoker. This can be achieved by adjusting the airflow and adding charcoal or wood chips as needed. It’s also advisable to periodically spritz or baste the ribs with a flavorful liquid, such as apple juice or a vinegar-based mop sauce, to keep them moist and enhance the taste.

Remember, these are general guidelines, and individual cooking times may vary. It’s always recommended to rely on temperature and tenderness as the primary indicators of doneness rather than strictly adhering to a specific cooking time. With practice and careful observation, you’ll develop a sense of when the ribs are perfectly smoked and ready to be enjoyed.

What is the 3 2 1 rule for smoking ribs?

The 3-2-1 rule for smoking ribs is a popular method that provides a guideline for achieving tender and flavorful ribs. Here’s a breakdown of what each number represents:

It’s important to note that the 3-2-1 rule is a general guideline, and individual cooking times may vary based on factors such as the size and thickness of the ribs, personal preference for tenderness, and the type of smoker being used. It’s always recommended to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. When the ribs reach an internal temperature of around 195°F (90°C) and the meat has pulled back from the bone, they are typically considered ready to be enjoyed.

Feel free to adjust the timing based on your preferences and the specific characteristics of the ribs you are cooking. The 3-2-1 method serves as a helpful starting point for achieving delicious and tender smoked ribs, but experimentation and personalization are encouraged to find the perfect balance for your taste.

How long to smoke ribs at 225 without wrapping?

The cooking duration for smoking ribs at 225°F (107°C) without wrapping can differ based on factors such as the type of ribs, their thickness, and your desired level of tenderness. As a general guideline, you can estimate a cooking time of approximately 5 to 6 hours for spare ribs and 4 to 5 hours for baby back ribs at this temperature.

It’s important to note that these are rough estimates, and it’s crucial to monitor the ribs closely during the cooking process. The key to achieving perfectly smoked ribs without wrapping is to observe their tenderness and internal temperature.

Use a meat thermometer to check the doneness of the ribs. The ideal internal temperature for fully cooked ribs is around 195°F (90°C). Additionally, you can perform the “bend test” by lifting the ribs with tongs from one end. If they bend easily and the meat starts to pull away from the bone, it indicates that they are approaching the desired tenderness.

Throughout the smoking process, it’s important to maintain a consistent temperature of 225°F (107°C) in your smoker. Adjust the airflow and replenish charcoal or wood chips as needed to maintain the desired temperature.

While not wrapping the ribs allows for a crispier exterior and more pronounced smoke flavor, it’s important to monitor the moisture levels. Basting the ribs occasionally with a flavorful liquid, such as apple juice or a vinegar-based mop sauce, can help prevent them from drying out.

These are general guidelines, and individual cooking times may vary based on various factors. It’s best to rely on temperature, tenderness, and personal preference when determining the readiness of the ribs. With practice and attention to detail, you’ll be able to achieve deliciously smoked ribs that are perfectly cooked and bursting with flavor.


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