Recently I made some ribs for a friend of mine who is diabetic. I was able to make him “healthier” barbecue than I normally make using fresh ingredients, red wine, and Splenda. He counts carbs and sugars to keep his diabetes in check and like some people, I don’t look at labels when I grab them from store shelves and put them in my cart. I was surprised to find out an average bottle of store bought barbecue sauce contains 15 carbs per serving, which is 2 Tablespoons. That is a lot.
I had not used Splenda before in rubs or sauces so I was a little skeptical of how it would hold up to a sweeter Kansas City style of smoking. In a nutshell, Splenda is an artificial sweetener that is supposed to be stable under heat conditions with zero calories and carbs and is supposed to be equally as sweet as real sugar, one cup for one cup . I make VERY sweet turn in foods for KCBS competitions (which I think is too sweet for most people) and at home I strive for balanced flavors. I was unsure if Splenda would be able to hold up it’s sweetness end of the bargain to chemically match the saltiness of my rubs and sauces. It was pretty close to the same taste but not quite, so I had to adjust my normal recipe which is listed below. Splenda is a great zero calorie sugar alternative, as I was able to get the rub down to 0.08 carbs per serving and the sauce down to 1.8 carbs per serving, which is outstanding!
The 2/2/1 smoking method:
I used the 2/2/1 method for the baby back ribs I smoked, which means I smoked them for 2 hours, then foiled them for 2 hours, and then unfoiled them and smoked for a final hour. The first two hours allows the ribs to form a bark and bask in the smoke. The second (foiled) two hours allows the ribs to steam and become very tender. The final hour firms up the bark and allows you to add a sauce or glaze if you are so inclined.
Note: If you are following this method of cooking for a KCBS comp, you will have to constantly feel for tenderness to determine when they are done to KCBS standards, which are NOT fall off the bone. Ribs should be tender and leave a bite mark in the meat when eaten; the rest of the meat should stay on the bone. You might reduce the heat to 250 degrees F instead of this recipes 300 degrees F or cut the cooking time and use a 2/1/1 method.
Diabetic barbecue rub (adjusted):
- 1/4 Cup Paprika
- 1/4 Cup Splenda Sweetener
- 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon White Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Pepper
- 2 teaspoons Mustard Powder
- 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1 teaspoon Cayenne
- 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
Diabetic barbecue sauce:
- 1 Cup Heinz Reduced Sugar Ketchup
- 1 Cup Cabernet Red Wine
- 1 Cup Splenda Sweetener
- 1/4 Cup Water
- 1/4 Cup Yellow Onion, diced
- 1/4 Cup Green Bell Pepper, diced
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Yellow Mustard
- 1 Tablespoon Diabetic Rub
- 1 Tablespoon Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Louisiana Hot Sauce
- 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
- 1 Garlic Clove, minced
1. Preheat your smoker to 300 degrees F.
2. Start soaking your wood chunks in water. I use a handful of cherry for pork.
3. I trim my ribs, removing the membrane and any unwanted pieces of fat or hanging meat. Some people don’t trim their ribs at all and smoke em’ like they got em’.
4. Put your rub on your ribs. I used to heavily coat my ribs but I don’t anymore because I want to taste more of the meat, not all rub and sauce.
5. Add your soaked wood chunks to your smoker.
6. Place your ribs on the smoker, meat side up, and smoke them for one hour.
7. I sprayed these with a 50/50 mix of water and Carb Free Maple Syrup, most KCBS cooks would use apple juice. Cook another hour.
8. Spray them again and then double wrap the ribs in aluminum foil.
9. Add them back to the smoker, meat side down, for an hour.
10. Unwrap the ribs, placing them meat side up on the smoker and heat your sauce, also in the smoker.
11. Add your sauce to the ribs after 30 minutes. Be sure to sauce all the parts of the ribs, including the bones.
12. Pull them off when you think they are ready, usually another 30 minutes but that depends on how tender you want your ribs.
13. Foil them and let them rest for at least 15 minutes before you cut them.
These ribs turned out pretty darn good, I was surprised at their great flavor. Overall, it was a great learning experience since I am not diabetic and had not used sugar alternatives in barbecue. I will continue to use this recipe at home, there’s no reason not to since it is a healthier choice and the taste is just as good as normal sugar based barbecue. The only caveat I have for this recipe is I did not use Splenda Brown Sugar, which contains 4 times the amount of carbs as regular Splenda, nor did I use honey, molasses, or real maple syrup. My main goal was to get the lowest carb and sugar count as possible and still have great barbecue. KCBS recipes on the other hand… they will get the full monty.