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Fourth of July, 2006
True Blue Barbecue

Mike Mills of 17th Street Bar and Grill, Murphysboro, IL on
Mike Mills

17th Street Bar and Grill
32 North 17th Street
Murphysboro, IL
(618) 684-8610

Memphis Championship Barbecue
4379 Las Vegas Blvd
North Las Vegas, NV 89115
(702) 644-0000

Apple City Barbecue Grand World Champion Ribs
From Peace, Love and Barbecue by Mike Mills and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe (Rodale, 2005)
Adapted by

Yield: 4-8 Servings


    Magic Dust:
  • ½ cup beef stock
  • ½ cup paprika
  • ¼ cup kosher salt, finely ground
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons mustard powder
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • ¼ cup ground cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup granulated garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons cayenne

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • ½ cup apple juice or cider
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/3 cup bacon bits, ground in a spice grinder
  • 1/3 cup peeled and grated apple
  • 1/3 cup grated onion
  • 2 teaspoons grated green bell pepper

    For Ribs:
  • 4 racks pork ribs (about 2 pounds each)
  • 4 cups apple juice in a spray bottle

  • Natural lump charcoal
  • 4 cups apple wood chips
  • Chimney Starter

Magic Dust:
Mix all ingredients and store in a tightly covered container. Keeps indefinitely.

Combine all but the last three ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then stir in the apple, onion and bell pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, 10-15 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Stir often. Allow to cool, then pour into sterilized glass bottles. Refrigerate for up to two weeks. Yields 3 cups.

Prep ribs by trimming excess fat and removing the skin-like membrane on the back of the ribs. Sprinkle liberally with Magic Dust, coating both sides. Refrigerate in a covered pan for at least one hour, or overnight.

Soak wood chips in water for 30 minutes. Light charcoal with the aid of a chimney starter. When coals are medium-hot, arrange in a grill or smoker (if you are using a grill, it must have a lid). Set an aluminum pan next to the coals as a drip pan. Spread the wet wood chips on the coals. Close the lid and check the temperature; it should be between 200 and 210ºF. If the temperature is too high, open the lid to allow some heat to escape.

When temperature is steady, place ribs on the rack, bone side down. Cover and smoke the ribs for about 6 hours until ribs are done and tender, turning ribs as little as possible. To test for doneness, lift one end of the rack with your finger—there should be a slight bend or give to the ribs, as though they are bending a bit in the middle.

While cooking, check the ribs every 20 minutes to keep the temperature constant and see if the meat looks dry. If so, mist with apple juice and sprinkle with a little more Magic Dust.

Ten minutes before you remove the ribs from the smoker or grill, mop them with the barbecue sauce. When you take them off, mop once again with the sauce and sprinkle with more Magic Dust. Serve racks whole, or cut each rack in half to serve 8.

Wine Pairing:
Try a full-fruit red like Ravenswood Old Vines Zinfandel from Sonoma, California, or a slightly chilled rosé, like Lieb Family Cellars’ Bridge Lane Rosé from Long Island, New York.
Or try a local microbrew instead! If you’re down south, look for Sweetwater Blue by Atlanta’s Sweetwater Brewery, a light ale with a hint of blueberry on the nose. Northerners can check out Magic Hat #9, a crisp, fruity ale brewed in Burlington, Vermont.


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  •    Published: June 2006
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