I didn’t really change anything from the original Cook’s Illustrated (January, 2006) recipe. They used Lapsang Souchong tea, which apparently has a very smoky flavor. I didn’t feel like making a special trip to the supermarket, so I ended up using whatever chinese black tea blend I had on hand. In the end, none of us noticed a strong flavor of smoke or tea. It totally didn’t matter because the ribs were awesome regardless.
stuff you need
- pizza stone
- large baking sheet
- raised wire rack (like you’d use to cool cookies or bread)
for the wet rub
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard
- 2 T ketchup
- 1 T chili powder
- 1 T paprika
- 1/4 – 1/2 t cayenne, depending on heat preference
- 1 T salt
- 3 T brown sugar
- 4 racks of spareribs (about 2 lbs)
- 1/3-1/2 cup loose, black tea, preferably Lapsang Souchong
- 1/2 cup apple juice
Mix the wet rub ingredients and slather all over the ribs. Make a stack of the rib racks and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. Before cooking, transfer the ribs to the freezer for 45 minutes. This is to chill them enough so that the initial 30 minutes at 500°, necessary to get the tea smoke going, doesn’t cook them too fast. (I don’t make this stuff up, folks; I just do what CI tells me.)
Put pizza stone on the lowest oven rack possible. Heat oven to 500°.
Grind tea into powder in a spice grinder or mortar & pestle. Line the bottom of a large baking sheet with foil. Spread the tea powder over the bottom of the pan. Set a wire rack in the pan. Arrange rib racks on rack preferably so that air can flow in and around them. Cover the entire pan with another sheet of foil and crimp the edges tight. I put an upside-down ramekin under the foil cover in the middle of the rack to help with the tenting.
Place the pan on top of the pizza stone and cook for 25 minutes. Then lower heat to 250°. Open up a corner of the foil cover and pour in the apple juice. Reseal. Cook for another 1.5 hours.
Finally, finish them off under the broiler for a few minutes a side to crisp up the outside.