Smoked pork baby-back ribs that fall off the bone
I got home from scout summer camp on Saturday. After a week of “school food” at camp I was ready to BBQ something. Ribs became the target. The goal of great ribs is to be moist, tasty and the meat should fall off the bone easily. I have found that it is difficult to get the “falling off the bone” by grilling so invest in a smoker that has good temperature control. Here is my favorite way to make ribs and my collected wisdom. I like ribs because they are easy to make and hard to ruin.
– Enough baby back ribs to feed everyone. I tend to estimate about a half rack per “big person”. I prefer buying ribs that are sold in vacuum packaging with 2-3 racks per package.
– Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (amount is variable)
– Apple juice (amount is variable)
For the best results you need to start the rub process 24 hours before you start to smoked. I have had decent results with 8 hours but it’s not the same.
Prepare the ribs – Cut the end off of the vacuum packaging and take the ribs out. Keep the packaging intact because the packages are idea for holding the ribs during the marinade/rub process.
Rinse the ribs off and use a towel to remove the grizzle layer on the back side of the ribs. Start in one corner of the rib and pull/peel away the grizzle layer. This is important because the grizzle will keep the rub from soaking into the meat AND it will make it harder to eat because it wont fall apart in the cooking process.
Coat the ribs with a good dose of rub. I personally use Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning because it has all the flavors that I want. Do not overcoat or your ribs will be too spicy to eat. I tend to spread on the rub and use my fingers to rub it deeper into the meat. Once you are done, put the ribs away in the fridge for 8-24 hours to soak in the flavoring. The longer you wait, the deeper the seasoning will penetrate. I like the vacuum packaged ribs because the vacuum packaging is ideal for storing the ribs in the fridge.
This is the stage where you can be creative. For example, if you want your ribs to sweeter, rub on brown sugar (make it thick). If you want your ribs to really fall off the bone, add some apple cider vinegar (about 1/4 cup per rack) so the acid can help break up the connective tissue.
Smoke the ribs – Smoking is easy. I like to use hickory or mesquite for smoking. like to use a 3 phase approach to smoking:
1. Phase 1 . Smoke the ribs at 225 F for 3 hours. I use a rib rack so I can get more ribs in my smoker. Don’t forget to use water in your pan so the smoke is very humid to assist. When you smoke at 225 F, the water will lightly boil and keep the ribs moist.
2. Phase 2. Remove the ribs and wrap the ribs in heavy foil with a tablespoon of apple juice per rack. Don’t wrap the ribs tightly as you want the apple juice vapor to circulate around the ribs. Place back in the smoker for another 2 hours. this will accelerate the smoking process and the apple juice will enhance the flavor of the ribs as well as further moisten the ribs.
3. Phase 3. Optional phase if you like BBQ sauce. Remove ribs from foil and coat in BBQ sauce. I prefer my ribs without sauce but if you love sauce, this is when you would do this. Put the ribs back in the smoker for about 1 hour until the sauce is “glued” to the ribs. If you don’t want to add sauce, just continue phase 2 for an extra hour.
The timings for phase 2 and 3 are variable. The ribs are probably “fully cooked” after only about 2 hours in the smoker. The remaining smoking time is used to add a nice smoke ring to the meat, break down the connective tissue to make the ribs “fall off the bone”. Check the ribs occasionally and they are done when the bone easily pulls away.