I know, I know. Enough with the pumpkin flavors. Everything is pumpkin spiced. Coffee, beer, muffins, scones, even some tortilla chips. I’m not kidding on that last one. They aren’t all that bad. OK, I have a problem. I admit it. If you don’t want to be sucked into the pumpkin fad, go with apple butter. Or peach butter. Or whatever sweet butter you find at the local farmers market which is where I found the pumpkin butter. Also, this is an alternative to the 3-2-1 method that is so popular with many BBQ enthusiasts. The 3-2-1 method means 3 hours in the smoke, 2 hours in foil (or butcher paper) to steam in some sort of added liquid, and 1 hour back in the smoke. This method is not my favorite. Ribs should not steam for 2 hours. A better method is more like 2-.75-.5 method but that does not sound nearly as good as 3-2-1 method. Just because the name sounds great doesn’t mean the method is great.
Pumpkin Butter Ribs Ingredients:
- 1 slab of St. Louis style spare ribs
- Salt to taste
- Your favorite sweet BBQ rub (we used Fergolicious Sweet Luv)
- 1/2 stick of salted butter
- 4 ounces pumpkin butter (or whatever fruit/gourd butter you prefer)
- Aluminum foil
This is a fairly simple rib recipe. The only twist to this recipe is that instead of slathering the ribs in sweetness and wrapping in foil, we are simply going to line a foil boat (more like a barge) with sweetness and set our ribs on top. Let’s get to this one.
Begin by skinning the St. Louis style ribs by removing the membrane off the bone side of the ribs (paper towels are your friends here). Then season the ribs with salt and seasoning, bone side up:
Why bone side up? Because the curve of the bone. Once these ribs are flipped over to season the meat side, will keep the underside of the slab from touching the cutting board. If the meat were to touch the cutting board, the seasoning would stick to the board and require a reapplication of rub and salt.
Then flip over and repeat on the meat side:
Let’s back up a little. What does it mean these are St. Louis style ribs? St. Louis style ribs are just spare ribs trimmed up into a nice pretty rectangle. These are pretty much a staple on the competition circuit because they cook more evenly and consistently. I normally prefer baby back ribs, but these were considerably cheaper at my local grocer so I went with the ribs named after my hometown.
Now it’s time to crank up my kamado grill which happens to be the only one made in America. That would be my Primo. I placed coals on one side of the divider on the bottom of that Primo, stoked up the fire to an internal temp of about 275F and chucked a couple chunks of white oak onto the coals. I added the slab of ribs to the side of the Primo with no coals and closed the lid. For some reason I didn’t get a shot of the ribs hitting the grill for the first time despite dad and I both taking pics on a cell phone and DSLR. But here are the ribs about an hour in:
Bones are starting to peek out at the end there.
At about the 2 hour mark (not three hours like the 3-2-1 mthod), we created that afore mentioned foil boat. OK, maybe barge is a better descriptor. We created a foil vessel a little larger than the ribs with a 1/2 – 1 inch lip around the edge and dropped in a half stick of butter and the pumpkin butter:
Then we positioned that foil boat/barge/vessel onto the side of the grill with no coals and placed the ribs meat side down, right on top of that butter and pumpkin butter:
After about 20 minutes in the foil, the bones at the end looked like this:
And the butter/pumpkin butter slurry is combining nicely:
We rotated these ribs 180 degrees and when we checked them about 15 minutes later the bones jumped out of the meat:
You can see how the bottom three are darker for the first half inch or so and then much lighter in color the rest of the length of the bones. This is because the lighter color section hasn’t had a chance to be discolored by the smoke. In my head, I imagine it sounded like Wolverine extending his claws but I didn’t hear it when it happened because the lid was closed. Farther down the line of bones, they are clean and white along the sides from top to bottom with only the flat top darker:
The bones stuck out that much after only 35 minutes in a foil barge. I think this is absolute proof that the 3-2-1 method is entirely too long on all three numbers.
Like I always say, the bones know. Don’t watch the clock. And you don’t even need to watch the thermometer. Just watch the bones. When they stick out this much, the pumpkin butter ribs are done.
Here’s one more shot of those clean, white bones after I took the ribs out of the foil and set them on the side with no heat as I wanted the butter/pumpkin butter to thicken a bit before I served:
Also, DO NOT throw away the butter/pumpkin butter concoction:
This gooey mess is a flavor bomb waiting to blow:
After another 20-30 minutes in the smoke, the pumpkin butter ribs are ready to serve:
That shirt seems appropriate!
Slice the ribs and slather with the butter/pumpkin butter concoction al over the slab:
I think they came out rather well!
These ribs ended up right between competition style (tender but still firm forming a clean bite) and fall off the bone (self explanatory). This may be my favorite way to prepare ribs although the perfect balance between competition and fall off the bone is hard to duplicate for every cookout. The flavor of the ribs are well nuanced with a number of subtleties in the profile. The savory of the butter helps to even out the sweetness of the rub and the pumpkin butter. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy them, but my kids mowed down the rest of the slab after I sampled a couple. I also saved quite a bit of time over the 3-2-1 method.
As always, if you have any questions or comments about these pumpkin butter ribs, feel free to leave them below or send me an email.
If sweet ribs is not your thing, try these garlic and herb ribs.
Pumpkin Butter Ribs
- 1 slab St. Louis style spare ribs
- Salt to taste
- your favorite sweet BBQ rub (we used Fergolicious Sweet Luv)
- 4 tbsp salted butter (½ stick)
- 4 oz pumpkin butter or whatever fruit butter you prefer
- Aluminum foil
- Skin the ribs of the membrane from the bone side and season with salt and the rub on both sides (starting with the bone side first)
- Prepare the grill for two zone or indirect grilling with coals on one side and the meat on the other
- Target temp inside my Primo Ceramic Grill was 275
- Place the seasoned ribs on the side with no coals and a couple chunks of white oak on the coals
- Close the lid and smoke for about 2 hours and then prepare the foil boat/barge/vessel which is slighter larger than the slab
- Place the half stick of butter and pumpkin butter in the foil boat
- Set the foil boat on the side of the grill with no heat and set the ribs, meat side down on top of the butter/pumpkin butter slurry
- Close the lid and let the ribs go for 40-60 minutes until the bones jut out well over a half inch
- Once the bones come out, slice and drizzle the butter/pumpkin butter concoction over the sliced ribs and serve