Yesterday afternoon I christened the OMINATOR by barbecuing a couple racks of spare ribs with a sweet brown sugar / paprika dry rub.
Over the past week, I consulted two references (Dr. BBQ's Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook and Smoke & Spice) to determine what kind of recipe to try for my first time with the smoker. I decided on a "hybrid" spare rib dish more or less to fit the ingredients I had on-hand. I made the rub and applied about half of it on Saturday night, then patted the rest on Sunday afternoon after taking the meat out of the fridge about 30 minutes before smoking.
Although my gracious guests paid nothing but compliments, I give my first effort a solid B, with much room for improvement in terms of flavoring, meat moisture and tenderness, and meat content.
For the first, I applied waaaay too much rub, so I have to curb the instincts I have from grilling, one of which to expect that most of the dry stuff you apply to meat will fall off during the grilling process. With smoking, the meat just sits there motionless for several hours unless you turn it (which you don't have to do, at all), and so the sugar-based rub eventually carmelized into kind of a granular sludge. The flavor was dark, sweet, and smokey, but a little overpowering.
For the second, my friend A tells me that he spritzes a mixture of Jack Daniels and apple juice onto the meat every couple hours, which adds a little flavor and prevents the surface from drying out. Also, I should probably increase the cooking time, which goes against another grilling instinct, to "sear it hot and fast."
And for the third, I need to hunt around a little to find a good meat source; Safeway won't cut it, and the ribs at New Seasons (which are the ones I used) looked a little wimpy. There are a few good butchers and meat shops up in my neck of the woods, so I'll have to explore before my next adventure.