The ribs that are prepared for the big cook-offs around the country are quite different than what you would normally cook at home or eat in a restaurant. Over the years of cooking, the barbecue pros have learned that making your ribs a little bit too tender and a little bit too sweet can get you a good score when they are judged.
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Peel the membrane off the back of the ribs and trim any excess fat. Season the ribs liberally on both sides with the barbecue rub. Place the ribs in the smoker, meat-side up, and cook for 2 hours. Flip the ribs and cook for 45 minutes.
Lay out two double-thick sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Lay one slab on each piece of foil, meat-side up. Top each slab with half of the brown sugar. Drizzle each slab with half of the honey, butter, and Tiger Sauce. Close up the rib packages, pressing out as much air as possible. Do not seal the packages tightly; they need to breathe a little.
Return to the cooker for 30 minutes. Open the packages and check for doneness by pushing a toothpick into the meat. It should go in and out very easily. If you want the ribs more tender, just wrap them back up and cook a little longer. When they're as you like them, transfer to a sheet pan. Remove the foil and return the ribs to the cooker meat-side down. Brush the bone side liberally with barbecue sauce and cook for 10 minutes. Flip the ribs and brush the meat side liberally with barbecue sauce. Cook for 20 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Let rest for 5 minutes. Slice each rib individually and transfer to a platter to serve.
Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor with a metal blade. Process for 5 seconds, until the lumps are gone. The rub may be stored in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 6 months.
Makes about 2 cups
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Add the celery seed and mix well. Cook for 1 minute. Add the ketchup, vinegar, honey, mustard, apple juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire, hot sauce, tomato paste, liquid smoke (if using), salt, and pepper. Mix well and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, mixing often, until thickened. Remove from the heat and serve or cool and store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Makes about 1 quart