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Episode 401: Raichlen Grills St. Louis

St. Louis Ribs with River City BBQ Sauce

Other Recipes from Episode 401: Raichlen Grills St. Louis


St. Louis Ribs with River City BBQ Sauce

Recipe Notes

  • Advance Prep: Up to 24 hours for dry-brining the ribs
  • Yield: Serves 2 but can be multiplied as desire
  • Method: Indirect grilling


  • 1 rack spareribs, preferable St. Louis-style (skirt, tips, and membrane removed)
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the rub:

  • 1/2 cup ground coffee
  • 1/4 cup ancho chile
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon granulated onion
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed, or more to taste

For the River City BBQ Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup beer, preferably brewed in St. Louis
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Coarse salt (sea or kosher)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bottle St. Louis-style barbecue sauce, such as Maull’s, or your favorite barbecue sauce

Recipe Steps

1: Place the ribs on a rimmed baking sheet and season liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 12 hours, up to 24. (Do not go longer than 48 hours.)

2: Prepare the rub: Combine all the rub ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

3: Make the sauce: Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet or other pan. Saute the onions over medium-high heat until translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the beer and let reduce slightly. Stir in the brown sugar, salt and pepper to taste, and the prepared barbecue sauce. Let the sauce simmer for several minutes so the flavors blend. Set aside.

4: Season the ribs with the rub.

5: Heat the grill or smoker to 250 degrees and add wood chunks or hardwood chips to the coals. Arrange the ribs on the grill grate and smoke for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, or until tender and the meat has pulled away from the bones by 1/2 to 1 inch.

6: Brush the ribs with the barbecue sauce and continue to cook them for 15 to 20 minutes to let the sauce set up. Serve the ribs immediately with more sauce on the side.

Recipe Tips

Our thanks to the sponsors of Project Fire Season 4:

Crowd Cow
Kalamazoo Grill Nomad Grill
Start N Grill Workman Publishing

Steven Raichlen’s Project Fire is a production of Maryland Public Television, Barbacoa, Inc., and Resolution Pictures. © 2022 Barbacoa, Inc. Photos by Chris Bierlein