Smoked Ribs

Like spies, every cook has a special touch that they add to each recipe, the divulgence of which might require them to kill you.

Not even blood seems to carry any guarantee of full, honest disclosure — a lesson I learned one Thanksgiving after trying to reproduce my mom’s famous apple cake. I remember faithfully transcribing the recipe over the phone (“3 and 1/2 cups of vegetable oil? Really, Mom? 3 and a 1/2 CUPS?”), and then watching horrified as my cake separated into one layer of oily apple slurry, and another of just oil.

Later, recounting my disaster to my mother, she interjected by saying, “3 and 1/2 cups? That’s crazy! You were supposed to only put in 3 and 1/2 tablespoons!”

Did I mishear my mother the first time? I don’t think so. Do I think she did it on purpose? Yes, I do.

A recent boomerang trip to Texas for my boyfriend’s niece’s baptism yielded a great opportunity for some excellent home-cooked, home-smoked grub. His brother-in-law loaded up the truck with the smoker, and the smoker with mesquite and several pounds of pork and beef ribs.

After four and a half hours of smoking, they emerged toothsome and succulent. The ribs were full of meaty chew and savory smoke. Absolutely delicious.

When asked what the recipe was, he and his wife threw out a nonchalant, “Oh, a little bit of this, and a little bit of that.” From the bits of scant information, it seems like a marinade and a rub was involved. Apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, thyme.

Any more information than that, and they would have to kill you.


A mix of pork and beef ribs

Special secret marinade

Special secret rub

Special Equipment:

One smoker


One boyfriend’s brother-in-law

One boyfriend’s sister

How to prepare:

1. Get a round-trip ticket to Texas.

2. Persuade boyfriend’s family to smoke some meat.

3. Put on stretchy pants.

4. Pass out in a happy food coma.


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