Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

Won’t You Be My Neighbor: Apple Smoked Pork Ribs

I always admired a man who would hang up his jacket only to put on a sweater. Then take off his shoes, just put on some more shoes. Then when he was done with those things, go play with some puppets. I guess we all have our own ilks in this world. Things that draw us a step closer to where we want to be. We’ll be the first to admit, when we were wee lads knee-high to a fire hydrant, my fellow patron and I frequented Mr Roger’s Neighborhood. And it was good. With a grilled cheese sandwich and some chocolate milk, we found solace there, amid the chaotic years of pre-school. We found a friend in the properly kept man in the sweater. One our mothers would finally approve of. And when he ushered us into the Land Of Make Believe, we were at once putty in his formative hands.  Oh yes, we had a good thing going with Mr Rogers. So did millions of other kids. And then some how, patron to the years, we turned into meat geeks. Which is odd because Mr. Rogers was also a practicing vegetarian.


What we learned most from the man may have been his catchy slogan – “Won’t you be my neighbor“. A wonderful gesture of good will towards man, and all that sort of thing. And so it was and came to mind, when an old friend moved into our neighborhood recently, that possible good will towards a man seemed the appropriate thing to do. And so the night before, I pulled out two racks of ribs from the freezer depths to thaw. Because to a man, and maybe even some women too, what says welcome to the neighborhood better, or with more sincerity,  than a rack of perfectly executed pork ribs.


The next day, amid the afternoon sunbeams which dropped through the Spruce, I put two well-seasoned racks into the smoker. One dusted over with a pit favorite,  Suckle Busters Competition Rub, and the other in Famous Dave’s Rib Rub, a spice blend concocted by the local BBQ legend , Dave Anderson, who off-hand and by-the-way, really is famous.  Both racks were trimmed some, of extraneous junk, and the membrane on the back of the rack was removed. Why remove the membrane you ask? Well the answer is two-fold. The membrane is not unlike a sheet of plastic almost, in that it inhibits any penetration by seasoning or smoke – the two things we fancy most for our ribs.  Secondly, it’s kind of like chewing on a latex glove. Mr. Rogers would not approve. So you will do well to remove said membrane, or at the very least, slice it all up with a series of well-meaning cross-hatches via a sharp knife.

Now the first stage in smoking good ribs lasts about 3 hours. A perfect time to sit back in your patio easy chair, and watch some smoke curl. And by golly, you deserve it. What a privilege it is to let up on the accelerator pedal of life for a bit, and tarry in the good ambiance patron to the pit. Lovely beverage in hand, perhaps some tunes on the pit radio, hark, you will want for nothing else. I loitered for a good while aside the pit, reclaiming the joys there, and the fellowship of the coals. Thin tendrils of apple wood smoke curling from the damper, as if they had nothing else in the world to do. And the chickadees bantered it up in the thick of the Alders, like a gaggle of old men at the barber shop.

After about three hours, of 250 degrees, and bathed in continuous apple wood smoke, the next step is to foil them for a bit. I foiled these racks with a splattering of apple juice each, as a steaming agent for the next hour and half. Foiling your ribs like this is like sending your meat to the health spa, where they will be pampered like no pig ever dreamed. The tough continuity of the collagen is at last loosened up a trifle, and a tender, more gentler world is revealed.  The kind of  world you can really sink your teeth into, shall we say. Which is precisely what we did after that hour and half in the foil.  The ribs were carefully placed back on the grate, clear of the foil, for the benefit of cameras. My friend, who shall remain nameless,  Dan, showed up around then too, keen to the heady aromas of BBQ. We both sported grins as wide as a Montana gulch, as I pointed to the smokey plunder which resided there on the grate. No sauces necessary.

“One for you”, I yammered, “and one for me!”

“Now won’t you be my neighbor!?”

Dan may have wept.


Slow-Apple-Smoked Pork Ribs. Man! Nothing says welcome to the neighborhood like a rack or two of perfectly smoked BBQ. Or, I suppose, a well-kept man in a blue sweater who plays with puppets.

51 responses

  1. Makes me want to move next door to you…

    August 20, 2013 at 9:48 am

    • Ha, yeah. Ribs should be incorporated in foreign policy somehow. We’d all get along then! Unless you don’t eat pork I suppose.

      Thanks for the comment!

      August 20, 2013 at 9:52 am

  2. I wish I were your neighbor. You would probably see far too much of me. Those ribs sound amazing.

    August 20, 2013 at 10:05 am

    • Oh yes! You would contribute to the feast admirably. I’ve seen what your cooking over there on your blog. Wow!

      August 20, 2013 at 10:10 am

  3. debbeedoodles

    “Want you be, want you be my neighbor?…” 😉

    August 20, 2013 at 10:19 am

  4. Once again, a well written account of an afternoon well spent! Thanks for the tips on properly smoking ribs – I believe I will check and see if it works on Ecuadorian cerdo as well! Keep up the good neighboring!

    August 20, 2013 at 10:45 am

    • Thanks much John. Appreciate it! Yes, we want to read on your blog some day soon, how you smoked some Ecuadorian cerdo and declared that it was good!

      Take care down there!

      August 20, 2013 at 10:51 am

  5. Ya’ know… we have Famous Dave’s in Tucson, a bit of a drive for us, but worth it for the PICKLES!!! They even have them in Costco, albeit they are in the JUMBO ECONOMY SIZED jar.

    August 20, 2013 at 10:48 am

    • Ah yes, the famous daves pickles! Good stuff. Forgot about those in the shadow of BBQ.


      August 20, 2013 at 10:53 am

  6. As the aforementioned neighbor, I thank you for your hospitality, fellowship, and expert meat prep skills. I look forward to our next feast! It’s great to be HOME again!

    August 20, 2013 at 10:59 am

  7. I’ll be your neighbour for sure!! Great post and photos! Keep it up 🙂

    August 20, 2013 at 11:11 am

  8. This sounds amazing! We’ve got a rib rub on our blog that would work so well with this technique. Spicy brown sugar and bourbon rub with this apple smoke would be AMAZING!

    The rub:

    August 20, 2013 at 11:51 am

  9. There are houses for sale in our neighborhood. Just thought I’d throw that out there!

    August 20, 2013 at 12:51 pm

  10. Great post as ever and if you cook this for new neighbours I’ll be house hunting near you very soon. Good work fellas.

    August 20, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    • Thanks kindly, Adam. It would be an honor to be your neighbor!

      August 20, 2013 at 2:09 pm

  11. Can I be your neighbor!! lol that looks yummy!

    August 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm

  12. Very well said. Ribs are the ultimate.

    August 20, 2013 at 3:42 pm

  13. I’ll be your neighbour if you need one, that tasty

    August 20, 2013 at 4:21 pm

  14. laurie27wsmith

    This post has left me with the desire to hunt down wild game and gnaw its flesh, after it’s been smoked of course. Probably because I spotted a Red Stag down the road from the house this morning. Another great post Chaps, you should be proud of yourselves.

    August 20, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    • Yup, sounds like its getting time to fire up the grill down there, and put some meat to flame! I know, its winter in Australia, but ain’t winters warm there! Thanks Laurie. Your comments are always a treat.

      August 21, 2013 at 9:29 am

      • laurie27wsmith

        yes we’re on the edge of winter now. It does get cold, we have some great snowfields down in New South Wales and Victoria. Had a cold front come up from Antarctica a few days ago bringing freezing weather, winds and snow down there. Up here in God’s own country Queensland, in the southern border regions where we are it can chill down, mainly overnight and early mornings. There have been light snowfalls over time just over the mountain range from us. It’s about 1deg Celsius right now outside, early morning with promise of a fine clear day.
        Don’t go burning anything you shouldn’t and have a great day.

        August 21, 2013 at 3:07 pm

  15. Reblogged this on ShopChimney and commented:
    I’ll have some please…

    August 20, 2013 at 10:14 pm

  16. Liz

    haha, it took me three reads of your first few lines before I figured out what you were talking about. And that was after you gave it away with your title! Am obviously not yet fully recovered from vacation.

    What a lucky neighbor you have. Those ribs have to be the best welcome gift ever. Totally agreement with your commentor who claimed ribs as “ultimate.” Yes.

    August 20, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    • Yes, you’re still in what I like to call “transition”. Re-acclimating to the urban world. It takes time. And the better the trip, the more time it takes. I won’t expect the real you around here for a week or so yet.

      Thanks Liz!

      August 21, 2013 at 9:31 am

  17. Ahh the understanding of the Ribs!!! 😀

    August 21, 2013 at 12:53 am

    • Yes. They tighten the tummy. And tickle the soul.

      Thanks for the comment!

      August 21, 2013 at 9:32 am

      • Our pleasure. Especially in lieu of the fact that we love ribs!!!

        August 26, 2013 at 11:24 pm

  18. Liberty of Thinking

    Now, in the final, glorious picture of the feast, I don’t see anymore the 3rd piece of meat making the front of your grill. Tell me at once, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH IT!?
    It seemed so small and hopeless…
    Thank you again gents, for the great story:-D

    August 21, 2013 at 2:19 am

    • That wayward chunk of meat, perfectly seasoned, that sir is what you might call a pit master privilege. A glory of which was suitably ingested by yours truly, amid the privacy of the patio. Because somethings, after all, were never intended for the neighbor. Amen.

      August 21, 2013 at 9:36 am

      • Liberty of Thinking

        Amen, Reverend:-D

        August 21, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      • Liberty of Thinking

        And just to make sure my message shall go through to your very hearts, you do have a storyteller’s talent! The second sentence of your reply gives away your brilliant mastering of your language, even if in your usual humbleness, you won’t easily acknowledge that. You may call me whatever you want as Dylan said, but I had a good laugh reading it, with a seasoned linguist/writer’s sparkling eyed chuckles:-D

        August 21, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      • Well I humbly accept your praise. And I thank you. I admire your word-craft like-wise, and the way you massage a phrase. You got it going on, Mr Liberty of Thinking! Where are you from, if you don’t mind me asking? For you are a fascinating fellow, to say the least.

        Thanks again!

        August 21, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      • Liberty of Thinking

        Romania’s Northern Transylvania (Dracula’s a bit South, sorry…:-D ) to start with, from a bilingual background, with some strange inclination for languages against a poor maths brain, with a twist for analytical thinking (catch that…), followed to Hungary from where ended up a gorgeous wife and four kids heavier, in the UK, for now… 😀

        August 21, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      • Wow! Well your English is as exceptional as your travels. And the world, I think, is a better place for it. Good to get to know you a little! Have a good one!


        August 21, 2013 at 3:49 pm

  19. Oh lord, you all do some wicked things with ‘the pit.’ Love some ribs like this….YUM!!

    August 21, 2013 at 7:41 pm

  20. Reblogged this on JeanClaudePitre.

    August 22, 2013 at 2:10 pm

  21. “And the chickadees bantered it up in the thick of the Alders, like a gaggle of old men at the barber shop.”
    “snicker’ 🙂 … too funny!
    The ribs, notwithstanding, the commentary makes me smile … stay hungry friend !!

    September 17, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    • Thank you kindly, kandee!

      No worries, I’m hungry darn near every day!

      September 18, 2013 at 12:01 am

  22. Pingback: Thanksgiving in the blogosphere, French bread, and lots of blog links | food for fun

  23. Wow, those ribs looks delicious! A very generous neighbor you are! Ribs are my weakness 🙂

    June 18, 2014 at 10:07 pm

  24. Pingback: Won’t You Be My Neighbor: Apple Smoked Pork Ribs | My Meals are on Wheels

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