The smell of BBQ keeps wafting through the air here at the Waterfront Blues Festival. It speaks to us. Resistance is futile. If you’re looking for Sean Marten, it’s a safe bet he’s over at the Deschutes Brewery BBQ tent.


We can’t talk about ribs and fail to mention Sean’s well-known reputation as a master of BBQ ribs.  We’ve somehow managed to pry the recipe from him.  Enjoy!

Sean’s Famous BBQ Pork Ribs

My famous BBQ pork ribs got that way because I do a major cheat on the traditional Texas style of slow smoked ribs. Traditionally, the sauce is supposed to stay off the ribs until you sit down to eat them, but my method allows you to slather the ribs with sauce while they’re still smoking, letting the sauce thicken and absorb that smoky goodness, WITHOUT burning into a blackened crispy shell. The secret is in the Salad Dressing. Read on.

First, season the ribs — regular pork spareribs or babybacks — with a good dry rub, at least an hour or two before smoking, preferably the night before. Pig Salt Spice Company makes a good rub, and so do I. I’ll post my recipe later.

I use a Weber Kettle. Get a big bed of coals going, wait till they’re lightly covered in ash, then very quickly grill the ribs. Just a few minutes each side. Set the ribs aside.

Arrange the coals so they are piled on one side of the Weber, then arrange the ribs so they are on the side of the grill that is opposite the coals. You’re moving on to the offset smoking method — don’t put the meat directly over the coals again after that first quick grill. Pile some wood chips on the coals — lately I’ve just been using store-bought chunks of Mesquite smoking wood, and I don’t bother soaking them in water. Cover with the Weber lid, making sure the vents are open to let the air in the bottom and the smoke out the top — and let ‘er rip.

You’ll be adding more wood chips and continuing to let it smoke for a couple of hours — but after the first 45 minutes to an hour, start slathering the ribs with the sauce. Once a layer of sauce has thickened and darkened, slather again. Keep this up to your heart’s content, or until the ribs are clearly done — the meat is pulling away from the bone.

The Sauce

In a large mixing bowl, combine:

  • One bottle of Bullseye Original or Hickory Smoke BBQ Sauce
  • One bottle of cheap Thousand Island Salad Dressing (no kidding)
  • 2 teaspoons Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning (or similar Cajun/Creole Seasoing)
  • Splash or two of Liquid Smoke

It’s the mayonnaise in the Thousand Island dressing that the keeps the sauce from burning, and also gives it a nice taste and creaminess. But this sauce is meant to be COOKED ON. For adding on to ribs that are done and ready for you to rock out, use a straight up BBQ sauce. There’s millions of them.

Mama Joni’s BBQ Rub

  • 2 TBS salt
  • 6 TBS sweet paprika
  • 1 TBS black pepper
  • 2 TBS Garlic powder
  • 2 TBS onion powder
  • 2 TBS dried thyme
  • 1 TBS dried oregano

Put in a jar with tight fitting lid, shake well. Keeps for months.