Baby back ribs

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EliseT
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2003/06/05 14:14:08 (permalink)

Baby back ribs

OK, we're getting serious now. I am making slabs and slabs of baby backs in my oil drum "Q" for the 1st time. Boil or bake 'em first? Smoke 'em slowly on the top shelf? What kind of wood (and by the way, where do you buy wood in the "city"?), how long do I soak the wood, charcoal/wood ratio? Best rubs? Best sauces? Bring it on!
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    Willly
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/05 14:35:43 (permalink)
    Well, I'll start. I never pre or par-cook the ribs. I don't use charcoal, just wood. I basically burn split wood, and my wood of choice right now (due to some tree removal) is crabapple. My rub is the basic salt, pepper, red pepper, paprika, garlic and onion powders, thyme, ancho chile powder, and some sugar. My baste is vinegar, salt & pepper, a little sugar, and ground cayenne. If I can keep my smoker at 225 or a little higher, it takes 3-4 hours.

    I know a lot of competition smokers smoke the ribs, then wrap in foil and put back in the smoker for another hour or so -- I don't.

    I do have some people in my family that don't think ribs are ribs without sweet, sticky sauce (we live in CT). For those people, I take a few racks, baste them with sauce, and crisp them up a bit on the grill.

    I hope you get a lot more input.

    Will
    #2
    seafarer john
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/05 16:16:55 (permalink)
    Elise: first you go out in the Majave and gather an armload of mesquite.....
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    Stogie
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/05 16:50:20 (permalink)
    I'm next!

    The secret to any BBQ is low and slow cooking. That kettle drum will be a challenge to keep the temps around 225-250º, so be sure to use the indirect method of heating.

    My entire technique depends on holding your cooking temp at 225º. I use a Weber Smokey Mountain and can hold the temp steady for over 6 hours on very little charcoal.

    This technique is how the best cooks in the country have been preparing their ribs. They compete on the MIM and KCBS circuits and have a long list of achievements. I have personally won many cheap plastic trophies for my ribs using this technique.

    First off, water is for doing dishes, NOT for cooking meat. Rely on low and slow cooking to tenderize them. Here is an article I wrote on making ribs in the oven....at the start, I explain why boiling is baaadddd.....

    http://www.recipegoldmine.com/bbqguru/kevin10.html

    OK, let's go......rub your ribs down the night before. Use your favorite rub..they are a dime a dozen.....my article has a very good one. Wrap in Saran and let sit overnight in fridge.

    Unwrap, prepare your smoker fire and then add the ribs. Just before adding to the pit, sprinkle with more rub. Add your smoke wood at this point. To 90% of the consuming public, smoke is smoke, so your choice of smoke wood is not a real issue at this point. Use whatever is free. Use chunks if you are using a charcoal fire and there is no need to soak.

    Cook for 3 hours, basting after 2 hours. I use a very simple baste...3 parts citrus juice, 2 parts oil and 1 part vinegar. You can use whatever you want.

    At the 3 hour mark, take the ribs off the smoker. Make sure to maintain your fire for the next several minutes. At this point you are going to foil your ribs. So, timeout for a discussion on foiling......

    Many purists/traditionalists insist that foiling is a "crutch" and really not needed. That is their opinion and they are entitled to it. I am in pursuit of the BEST ribs and after 25 years and several hundred thousand racks of ribs prepared about 2 dozen different ways, I have concluded that foiling is needed to turn out the BEST ribs.

    The general public wants falling off the bone tenderness. Now, we all know that a rib is overdone if the meat falls off the bones, but do you really want to try and convince someone that their favorite rib is too tender? Of course not..you would be laughed at. So, the best way to get that tenderness is to wrap your ribs in foil.

    Enough on that!

    So, lay out a large sheet of foil and place your rack on it...one per sheet of foil. Use REYNOLDS Heavy Duty foil...the other brands are mere jokes. Once the rack is on the foil, sprinkle with brown sugar or honey. Then use your mop sauce to moisten so the sugar melts. Wrap tightly and then back to the smoker.

    Cook another 2 1/2 hours...don't do anything with the foiled ribs during this time.

    You should now be at the 5 1/2 mark of your cook. Take the ribs out of the foil and apply your favorite sauce. A word about sauce and dry ribs.......SWEET will always win...always has and always will. So, you can't go wrong with something sweet. You can also go with a dry rib. That is my persoanl choice but I also make available at least 3 or 4 different sauces at the table....sweet, hot, mustard, vinegar, etc.

    If you want a dry rib, then sprinkle more of your rub onto the meat after taking them out of the foil. If you want sauce, then slather with sauce.

    Place the ribs back into the smoker for another 30 minutes and you are finally done.

    This technique is pure timing! Don't expect to get it correct the first time. Here are the variables.......

    Temp.....225º for a solid 6 hours. This will NOT work if your temps are all over the map.

    Weight of the ribs....I use 2 1/4 lb. racks of loin backs(technically NOT baby backs but close enough). These come from Sam's Club and are great because they are NOT tumbled and injected. If your rack weighs more or less than that, the timing will need to be adjusted.

    OK, since I ramble so damn much, here is a quick step-by-step....

    Rub night before.
    Smoke at 225º for 3 hours.
    Baste after 2 hours.
    Wrap in foil at the 3 hour mark.
    Cook another 2 1/2 hours.
    Remove from foil and place back into smoker for the last 30 minutes.

    Not really that hard.

    I have several techniques that also turn out a great rib, but I must admit this has been proven to be a winner.

    Stogie



    #4
    EliseT
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/05 17:44:56 (permalink)
    OK, forgive me for being such a neophyte, but I must be willing to look stupid in pursuit of great ribs.

    I have an oil drum "BBQ" (horizontal drum) with 2 rack levels, not a "Smoker" (vertical, upright drum with a tight lid)If I put the charcoal and wood on the edges, not under the ribs (that is the "indirect method" I believe) and with the lid closed, is my BBQ now functioning as a smoker?

    How do I ascertain the temperature...can I buy a special BBQ thermometer somewhere?

    As for whatever wood's free, I am in the city and unless I sneak into the park at night with a hatchet, there is no wood. And I will not be anywhere near the Mojave desert for some time. I only ever see "firewood" for sale...am I just outta luck there?

    OK, I think the rest is pretty clear, I appreciate the wisdom and assistance as I attempt to become the BBQ Queen of the World.
    #5
    Sundancer7
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/05 18:01:18 (permalink)
    Stogie: That was a very detailed BBQ map you provided. Obviously you have your PHD in proper BBQ ing.

    I like your method and I will try.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #6
    EliseT
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/06 00:28:58 (permalink)
    Stogie: With that oven method, are you putting the ribs directly onto the oven racks, no foil or nothin'? Or are you putting them on a roasting rack that fits on the cake pan? And the brown sugar won't burn like other sweet stuff will?
    #7
    Willly
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/06 08:35:03 (permalink)
    Elsie,

    I personally would build your fire on one end of the grill and put the ribs on the other end, and then close the lid. As for your wood, Weber sells hickory in chucks -- used in combination with some charcoal you can get a pretty good fire going. I think wet wood chips put too much smoke too quickly into the meat.
    #8
    Stogie
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/06 09:05:53 (permalink)
    Paul....Thank you very much! After 25 years and many years on the circuit, you tend to pick up a few pearls of wisdom. I'm just trying to give back all that I have learned.

    Elise.......When I did my initial attempts at ribs in the oven, I did place them directly on the oven rack. Most folks place on cookie cooling racks above the water pan. Also, I did not mention anything about foiling in this missive.....I needed to be able to offer a "revised edition"! LOL

    One of the myths about BBQing is the use of sugar in your rubs and other applications. Sugar will burn at around 265º(depends on the type of sugar and how it is processed), so as long as you keep your temps below that, the sugar will not burn. Another method I have had success with is the Carson's Ribs technique......slather in sweet sauce before and during your cook....as long as your temps stay low, no burning.

    I strongly suggest an oven thermometer for measuring your cookers temp. These come with a 3' cord with a probe on one end and it hooks into a digital display that sits OUTSIDE the cooker. This allows you to monitor the temps without lifting the lid. It also allows you to place the thermo by the meat....where it counts! Measuring lid temps is useless unless you know the temp differential between the top of the lid and the grate...this will change with almost every cook. These units can be bought for under $20 and can be found in all the kitchen sections of stores.

    Willy has a good idea about buying your chunks of wood. They can be found at almost every store that carries BBQ supplies. A bag of chunks will last quite a while...you will only use 3-4 chunks per cook. Now, be careful with the wood! Start with a small amount, take notes and then increase if you desire more smoke.

    I also agree with Willy on setting your fire to one side...I think it gives you more room and a cooler cooking environment.

    One last tip on fire starting.....make a pile inside your cooker with UNLIT briqs. Start about 20 briqs in a chimney and once those are ashed over, pour them on top of the UNLIT briqs. This does 2 things that are critical to success.....keeps your fire low and increases your fire's life. This method was invented by Jim Minion, a veteran of the BBQ circuit, and is used by most everyone who owns a WSM AND by more and more off-set pits as well.

    Hope this helps!

    For the rest of the community...PLEASE add your comments and techniques! I do not want to become a "board hog" when we talk about BBQ! There are many ways to prepare ribs...mine is only one of those.

    Stogie

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    EliseT
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/06 16:04:34 (permalink)
    Aaaah, Stogie, when it's your time to shine, just go on and shine!

    OK, so my local super-duper mart has hardwood charcoal, mesquite charcoal, and hickory chips. Whaddya all think for ribs?
    #10
    mayor al
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/07 07:50:14 (permalink)
    Elise,
    You have some great hints in the above posts...I am lucky enough to have hardwood chunks available at home, but in my SoCal life I could obtain them at Walmart or Home Depot in large bags for $5 or $6 . For Pork Ribs ans shoulder my personal preference is for Hickory chunks. For Brisket, Mesquite. That is a highly subjective matter of taste, much like 'salt and pepper to taste'. I get the charcoal going much as the otherguys describe, but bury a wet chunk of Hickory or two in with the unlit charcoal, so that it slowly adds it's value as the fire spreads. Then I add more as the need arises during the cooking process. You see a photo of my cooker on one of the other threads (think it is the one about side dishes)...So all heat is indirect. Watching the temperature of the cooker is a learning process...Stay with it a few times until you learn how long you can leave the scene and still have it hold the temperature that you want to use. Once you have mastered that it is possible to socialize while cooking!!(away from the cooker itself). Lastly don't forget the 'down-time' after you remove the 'Que' from the cooker. It needs time to settle just like a good roast. Cutting right away will trigger a flood of juices and leave the second half of a large brisket or shoulder a bit on the dry side.
    Please report back on how all this worked for you !!
    #11
    EliseT
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/12 14:12:57 (permalink)
    OK, countdown to rib weekend! My family decided they were coming over for lunch instead of dinner. I'm pretty hard-core, but not enough to get up at 2 am to start the ribs! Would it be a sin to slowly, indirectly Que them on Saturday, then wrap them in foil and do the last 2 hours Sunday? They'd be fully cooked, so I'm sure food safety isn't a problem, but maybe quality will be? Should I just cook steaks if time is a problem?

    Also, my Q doesn't have an easy way to add more charcoal. I would have to take everything off the grill and lift it off. How deep can I stack the coals and have them continue burning down after putting some ashy coals on top the pile?

    PS. I found oak chips made from old Jack Daniel's whiskey barrels at Target.
    #12
    Sundancer7
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/12 20:52:18 (permalink)
    The biggest problem is deciding whether you want to smoke or pit BBQ. I personally prefer to pit BBQ, but that is a matter of taste. I like my ribs pit BBQ'd. I believe the taste is superior. It has nothing to do with the texture, but pit has more of a charcoaled taste.

    Real problem on decision. Both are great and when I do one, I like it and when I do the other I like it.

    After that, I like the pit the best.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #13
    EliseT
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/16 03:34:19 (permalink)
    I did it!!! Thanks to you all! I have four older brothers, and there gets to be alot of macho bickering around the barbecue grill. So usually I leave them to it, but this time it was MY house and MY grill. They kept trying to add charcoal and mess with everything. Everyone was showing off their superior knowledge and getting louder and louder. Finally I hollered, "The brown sugar in the rub will burn if it goes over 265!" They all stopped and looked at me, and the youngest (Champion of Santa Maria-style BBQ IN Santa Maria), said, "Actually, she's right." And they all backed off. They did it my (Stogie's) way, and the ribs knocked their socks off! They were that beautiful smoked pink color, just the right combo of smoky, sweet and spicy, tender but not falling apart. Thanks to you guys, today little sister earned her chops.
    #14
    Bushie
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/16 08:23:08 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by EliseT

    I did it!!! Thanks to you all! I have four older brothers, and there gets to be alot of macho bickering around the barbecue grill. So usually I leave them to it, but this time it was MY house and MY grill. They kept trying to add charcoal and mess with everything. Everyone was showing off their superior knowledge and getting louder and louder. Finally I hollered, "The brown sugar in the rub will burn if it goes over 265!" They all stopped and looked at me, and the youngest (Champion of Santa Maria-style BBQ IN Santa Maria), said, "Actually, she's right." And they all backed off. They did it my (Stogie's) way, and the ribs knocked their socks off! They were that beautiful smoked pink color, just the right combo of smoky, sweet and spicy, tender but not falling apart. Thanks to you guys, today little sister earned her chops.


    Great story Elise!! Would have loved to have seen the looks on their faces. Congratulations on your "rib initiation".
    #15
    Stogie
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/16 22:48:47 (permalink)
    Elise....

    You gotta love that!! LOL

    Glad all came out perfect! Keep up the good work!

    Stogie
    #16
    dktani89
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/16 23:47:51 (permalink)
    I just got a Weber Kettle Barbeque. Does anybody have the best way to cook baby back ribs in a weber? I have looked all over the internet and have not found any very informative information on how to do this.

    Thanks.
    #17
    Stogie
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/17 12:39:58 (permalink)
    dktani89....

    Follow my directions above and you shold get a good start.

    As far as the Kettle, you will need to set it up using indirect heat. Following is a link to my recipe page where I have an article on this technique. Check out the pic that I have linked in that article.

    http://www.recipegoldmine.com/bbqguru/bbqguru.html

    Pay close attention to how I suggest starting your briqs. This will be an immense help in controlling and extending your fire. One of the biggest drawbacks of smoking with a kettle is keeping your temps under 275º. If you cannot keep those temps controlled, you will need to adjust the timing on my technique.....your cooking times will be much shorter.

    You will need to do some experimenting to perfect your timing, but that is half the fun!

    Good luck and feel free to write or post any questions.

    Stogie
    #18
    EdSails
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/17 15:19:53 (permalink)
    Ok Stogie------I've tried them in my gas grill--------shutting one burner off and putting them on the indirect side. I also put a cast iron box with hickory chips in there. I use a dry rub. They still aren't right. Any suggestions?
    #19
    Stogie
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/17 18:15:45 (permalink)
    EdSails.....

    Not sure what your definition of "not right" is...tough, dry, no taste, burned, etc.

    Gas grills are VERY hard to keep under 300º...even with indirect heating. It sounds like you may have a 2 burner unit, which will make that even more difficult. My Weber gasser has 3 burners and I need to crack the lid to keep it under 300º even with 1 burner on the lowest setting. It is much easier to do in the winter, but BBQing is summer sport. Trying to use wood chips is near impossible as well. You need to crank the heat up until the wood smokes and then lower it to cook...VERY hard, even on a good grill.

    I really don't have any ideas for you other than to buy a smoker. You may want to try wrapping in foil even sooner. Give the ribs enough time to get some smoke flavor and then wrap to protect from the heat.

    Sorry, Ed!

    Stogie
    #20
    EdSails
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/17 18:34:41 (permalink)
    Usually tough and dry. And yes, it's a 2 burner. Bingo! I haven't tried the foil though----good suggestion. Thanks!
    #21
    Stogie
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/17 23:20:32 (permalink)
    EdSails.....

    Tough and dry is caused by 2 things........

    Tough..99% of the time the ribs are not cooked long enough. Very hard to overcook a rib, but on a gasser, NOTHING is safe from overcooking.

    Dry...too high heat. Again, if the ribs are terribly overcooked, they will dry out as well, but as I stated above this is pretty rare.

    Not surprised by that seeing that your grill is only a 2 burner. Very hard to get low temps.

    Try the foil and see if that works. Foiling will also cook them a little quicker. You will also need to turn these things constantly. Don't flip them, but rotate them so each side gets some "relief" from the heat.

    I would also suggest you get a good oven thermometer. The ones with the 3' cord that has as L-shaped probe on 1 end and attaches to a digital unit on the other. They cost around $20 and are an invaluable help when cooking. They serve double duty...measure your pit temps and then measure your meat temps. One word of caution...they are only rated to 395º so be careful if your heats get that high....they WILL burn up!

    Good luck and I would be interested to hear your results.

    Stogie
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    fdm813
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/18 08:20:22 (permalink)
    Stogie,
    Which side of the fence are you on, remove the membrane or leave it?
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    Willly
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/18 12:28:48 (permalink)
    dktani89 -- The only additional advice I would have for smoking using the kettle is that I alway used the Weber rib rack. It stands the ribs up on their side so they don't take upn as much grill space, and also allows you to keep them a couple inches further from the fire.
    #24
    Stogie
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/18 18:01:16 (permalink)
    Willy....GREAT point! That will also cut down on the rotating.

    fdm813......I always take the membrane off. Once I found how easy it was, I do it all the time. Having said that, I do know of a couple of competition cooks that will simply score the back of the ribs between the bones.

    The trick to skinning ribs is to use a dry paper towel....get the membrane started and then grab with a dry towel. It takes some practice, but you will get the hang of it. I get to skin 80 of them tomorrow!!

    Stogie
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    fdm813
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/20 22:50:39 (permalink)
    Stogie,
    I read your article on the oven baking. Should I foil the ribs for the last hour or so?
    Thanks
    #26
    Stogie
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/06/23 15:38:52 (permalink)
    fdm...

    Yes, you should. I need to re-write that article...I published it a while back and it needs some revisions.

    Good Luck!

    Stogie
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    pigface
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2003/07/08 21:48:43 (permalink)
    Stogie,
    Thank you Thank you Thank you
    Made Ribs Friday and a BBQ brisket Saturday.
    Everyone thinks I Know what & How to BBQ on a Weber.
    I learned something Good
    #28
    Bogeyman
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2004/06/21 16:18:04 (permalink)
    Stogie,
    Looks like a great recipe for oven ribs. Someone gave me a bottle of "Calhoun's Charcoal Salt".
    Have you ever used such ? It looks like smoked salt, dark in color with a smokey smell. Think I
    may try it on your oven recipe to get a charcoal taste.
    I have a Brinkmanns Gourmet smoker & I do get pretty good meat mostly, I am very inconsistent
    with it. Are there any modifications that can be made to improve my chances?
    #29
    Stogie
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    RE: Baby back ribs 2004/06/21 18:04:35 (permalink)
    Bogeyman.......

    Never used that brand of salt, but it sounds like it would work OK. You can also use some liquid smoke in any sauce you plan on using OR use liquid smoke with your mop.

    The recipe I linked to at Recipe Goldmine was intened for those that do not have any smoker or grill, hence the oven instructions. In the thread here, I lay out a slightly different version of it for smokers.

    The Brinkmann Gourmet is hard to modify. Here is a link for you to check out. The best solution, get a Weber Smokey Mountain for a mere $180, you can buy the best little backyard smoker on the planet.

    http://www.randyq.addr.com/ecb/ecbmods.html

    Good luck and I hope this helps you!

    Stogie

    #30
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