BBQ RIBS RECIPE TECHNIQUE
1) Start with a fresh slab of St. Louis cut (SLC) ribs. St. Louis cuts are the meatiest and most flavorful. You can use baby back ribs if you prefer. They are smaller and cook faster. If you use SLC, you will need to cook about 5 hours at 225F. Baby backs need about 3 hours. The exact time will vary depending on your cooker, the individual slab of ribs, and if you include techniques such as the Texas Crutch, described below. Get a fresh slab. Fresh meat has the best pork flavor and the most moisture. Ask the butcher to remove the membrane on the back side.
2) Rinse the ribs in cool water to remove any bone bits from the butchering or bacterial film that grew in the package (don't worry, cooking will sterilize the meat). Pat dry with paper towels.
3) If the butcher has not removed the membrane, do it yourself. Trim excess fat.
4) Lightly coat the meat with cooking oil. That will help the spice rub penetrate. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Dry. With a clean hand sprinkle enough Meathead's Magic Dust to coat all surfaces but not so much that the meat doesn't show through. That would be about 2 tablespoons per side depending on the size of the slab. With the other hand, spread it out and rub it in. Wash your hands again. Wrap the meat in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for at least six hours or overnight. This helps the flavor penetrate and pulls the juices to the surface to help form a crust. If you don't have time to let it marinate in the dry rub, it's not the end of the world.
5) Types of smoker :
- offset firebox smoker
- a bullet smoker like the Weber Smokey Mountain,
- a gas grill,
- a charcoal grill,
- cooking indoors,
6) Preheat your cooker to about 225F and try to keep it there throughout the cook. If you use charcoal, please do not use solvent to start your fire. It can taint the meat with a chemical taste. Use a chimney to start the fire. Wait until the coals are white, and the oven temp is stable at about 225F. This temp will allow the meat to cook low and slow, liquifying the collagen and fats without getting the proteins knotted in a bunch. This creates silky texture, adds moisture, and keeps the meat tender. If you can't hit 225F, get as close as you can. Don't go under 200F and try not to go over 250F.
7) Measure 8 ounces by weight of chunks, chips, or pellets. It doesn't matter how many slabs you are cooking. I love apple and oak with pork, but hickory is the tried and true and it is easily available. Never use any kind of pine unless you want meat that tastes like turpentine. If your cooker is really tight, 8 ounces should be all the wood you need. If you are using a gas grill, unless it has a tight fitting lid, chances are it leaks a lot, so you should double the amount of wood. If you are using a tight electric such as the Cookshack or the Masterbuilt, 4 ounces may be all you need. For charcoal or gas cookers, add 4 ounces of wood to the coals at this time. The best amount of wood depends on your taste and how air flows through your cooker, and that can vary with ambient temp on the day you are cooking . Do not overdo the wood. Nothing will ruin a meal than oversmoked meat. You can always add more the next time you cook, but you cannot take it away if you oversmoke.
8) Put the slabs in the cooker, meaty side up. Close the lid and go drink a beer. No need to flip them. If you are using an offset smoker or a Smokenator, halfway through the cook you will need to move the ribs closest to the fire to the far side and the far slabs in closer. Otherwise, keep your lid on. Opening the lid just upsets the delicate balance of heat, moisture, and oxygen inside your cooker. It can also significantly lengthen the cooking time. No peaking.
9) Add another 2 ounces of wood every 30 minutes for the first hours (double this for most gas grill). Then stop. Adding wood at the beginning of the cook allows better penetration before the meat surface seals itself. Resist the temptation to keep adding wood until you've done several batches on your smoker and you know how much wood is right for your taste. As you get skilled you may decide to add more or less wood. But don't overdo it at first.
10) Optional. After 4 hours of cooking St. Louis cut ribs or spare ribs at 225F (2 hours for baby backs), prepare the Texas Crutch. This is a technique of wrapping the slab in heavy duty foil with a small amount of apple juice for 30 minutes. By creating a little steam, the Texas Crutch adds flavor, moisture, tenderness, and assures cooking is done on time. You can skip this step if you wish and you will still get Amazing Ribs.
11) Optional. Take the meat out of the foil, save the juice, place the ribs back on at 225F for 30 minutes to firm up the surface. Take the liquid from the foil and mix it with maple syrup and cook it until it is thick to make Pig Candy, a wonderful sweet glaze.
11) As an alternative, use your favorite BBQ sauce. Add the sauce and sizzle it in on high for 5-10 minutes per side watching so it doesn't burn.
12) Serve with slaw recipes, cheesy grits, and Rosengarten's Real Home Made Lemonade.
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