It may be a controversial ingredient, but I unapologetically use MSG in my seasoning rub. It is a flavor maker! All the savory and hot spices and seasonings in my famous rub and sauce give these tender ribs unbelievably delicious.
Technique tip: If you have used a mop to put the sauce on raw meat — dipping the same mop back into the sauce — do not save and reuse.
Rodney's Rib Rub (makes 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup MSG
- 1/4 cup freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup sweet paprika
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Rodney's Sauce (makes 2 cups)
- 2 cups distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 slabs pork spare ribs, membranes removed
- 3 tablespoons Rodney's Rib Rub (recipe above)
- 2 cups Rodney's Sauce (recipe above)
For Rodney's Rib Rub:
Mix all of the ingredients and place them in an airtight container. Cover and store in a cool dry place until ready to use.
For Rodney's Sauce:
Pour the vinegar in a small saucepan and warm it over medium-high heat. When the vinegar reaches 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon slices and continue to cook until the lemons are slightly translucent, about 10 minutes more.
Whisk in the black pepper, cayenne, red pepper and sugar. Continue to cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the sauce reaches 190 degrees, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to completely cool before using. The sauce keeps in the refrigerator for one month.
For the ribs:
1. Heat the grill to between 200 and 250 degrees.
2. Season each slab with the rib rub by sprinkling the rib rub on each side (don't completely rub it into the meat). Make sure you get under the flap, the little piece of meat that dangles on the bone side of the rib.
3. Place the seasoned ribs on the hot grill, bone-side down and the fatty end toward the hotter area of the grill. The middle tends to be hotter so that will ensure that the thicker part of the rib gets cooked properly.
4. After 1½ hours, open the smoker or grill and look for medium-dark caramelization on the bones of the ribs. Put one cup of Rodney's Sauce to the side for serving with the ribs. Use the remaining cup to use the "mop, flip, mop" method by brushing or mopping the meat side with sauce then flipping the ribs over so that they are bone-side up. Mop the ribs again. Close the grill.
5. Bring the grill back up to temperature between 200 to 250 degrees. Cook the ribs until they have reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees, about another hour.