How to Cook Pork Rib Slabs


Market-form pork ribs are available in three primary cuts: St. Louis, which denotes that the cartilage and tips have been trimmed; spare ribs, which are taken from the belly-side of the pig; and Kansas City, which have more connective tissue and bones removed than St. Louis-style. Pork rib meat, even when trimmed, still contains high proportions of connective tissue, which only breaks down after prolonged cooking. Smoking, which uses low heat, serves as an ideal preparation method for rib slabs.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. granulated onion
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp. kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • Oven thermometer
  • Rib basting mop

Spice Rub

  • Mix well 1 tbsp. each light brown sugar, chili powder, smoked paprika, granulated onion, cumin and granulated garlic. Add 1 tsp. each dried thyme, freshly ground black pepper, freshly ground white pepper and cayenne pepper. Add 2 tbsp. kosher salt and mix well.

  • Place the spice rub in an airtight container and set aside.

  • Keep the spice rub in a cool, dry place for up to six months.


  • Remove the membrane covering the backside of the ribs, which detaches easier at room temperature. Use a knife to peel enough of the membrane back from the narrow end of the rack to grasp it between thumb and forefinger and pull the remainder away.

  • Coat the ribs with a thin layer of olive oil to facilitate application of the spice rub. Apply the rub to taste. Place in a container, cover and allow the ribs to marinate for a minimum of 12 hours but not more than 24 hours.

  • Heat the smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator one hour prior to cooking and allow them to reach room temperature. Combine 3 cups of apple cider vinegar and 2 cups olive oil and set aside.

  • Place the rib racks on a sheet pan. Insert an oven thermometer in the slab that will be in the rear of the smoker. Use an oven thermometer with a long lead wire coming from the digital readout to monitor the temperature of the ribs as they smoke.

  • Smoke the pork ribs for five hours or until they have a minimum internal temperature of 170 degrees Fahrenheit, basting the slabs every 45 minutes with a rib basting mop saturated with the vinegar and olive oil mixture.

  • Remove the ribs in the last 45 minutes of cooking. Wrap each slab in foil, baste the foil and return to the smoker. The vinegar and oil will create steam and contribute to a tender final product.

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  • Photo Credit ITStock Free/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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