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Kansas City Baby Back Ribs

Sticky, saucy ribs smoked to perfection


Kansas City Baby Back Ribs
Brian Leatart/Photodisc/Getty Images
Kansas City is the place where barbecue traditions meet. Here you will find some of the best barbecue joints in the country, like Arthur Bryant's that started as a road side BBQ joint during the depression and has since become one of America's greatest rib joints. In Kansas City ribs are serious business. Here they are slow smoked with a spicy rub and served up with a thick, get under your nails barbecue sauce.

To make great Kansas City barbecue, start with a good rack of ribs. Actually start with two. One never seems enough. Once you get the hang of it you can move up to ten, twenty, enough to please the crowds that will gather.

Prepare ribs by washing racks and peeling membrane from the bone side. To remove the membrane, slip a sharp knife under the membrane at one end of the rack and peeling back enough to get a good grip. Try using a paper towel to hold the membrane, then pull. You might need a little practice, but you'll get the hang of it. If you are planning on hanging the rack of ribs on a hook, don't remove the membrane. Once the ribs are prepared, evenly coat with the rub and let sit. You can refrigerate overnight or let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes while you get the smoker ready.

Basting is an option to making ribs. On one hand it will add more flavor to your ribs and can help keep them moist. On the other you can wash off the rub you've already applied. By using a baste (sometimes called a mop) that contains the seasonings of the rub you already used you will enhance the flavor without washing away the flavor you've already added. The mustard in this recipe thickens the baste and holds the seasonings to the ribs.

Only add sauces at the very end of the cooking process or after you have removed the ribs from the smoker. Sauces can cause burning or excessive caramelization to foods. I will typically remove the ribs, cut them up and then add the sauce. You might also want to put the sauce on the side for people to add as they see fit. Of course sugar burns at 265 degrees F. (129 degrees C.), generally above smoking temperatures, but it is best to leave sauces to the end either way.

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