Once again…I begin by saying that there are a TON of different techniques and methods out there to prepare and cook ribs and by NO means do I suggest that this is the BEST one…it’s just a way that we do them and not a bad place to start if you’re thinking about cooking ‘Competition Style’ ribs!
A few notes before I begin…I blog about ribs fairly regularly and did so in the not-too-distant past, so if this seems redundant…sorry! Secondly, this post assumes that we’ve reached the point where you have a smoker and are able to hold it at a consistent temperature for a LONG period of time!
OK, that said…once again you’ve got to start with the RIBS! There are a number of options and while Baby Backs are popular in the Restaurants…the fact is that they have less meat and fat than Spare Ribs and that has a direct impact on their smoking technique. Also, Beef Ribs are a whole ‘nuther animal and I may cover them in an upcoming post, but today we focus on the Pork Spare Rib!
From your Grocer, or better yet your Butcher you get a ‘Whole Rack’ of Pork Spare Ribs. This will typically include half of the sternum on which there is some tasty meat and fat…you can have your butcher simply cut through the sternum every 2 ribs and cook the rack whole, OR as with most competition cuts…you can have them prepared (or do it yourself) ‘St. Louis Style’, which means sternum removed and trimmed evenly. This is done in Competition to provide a uniform presentation and heating while ‘on the smoke’.
OK, so you’ve got your ribs…you’ll notice that on one side is meat and the other side, bones! Start on the bone side and separate the ‘Silver Skin’ from the ribs. This is best accomplished by starting in a corner and then pulling at an angle. The ‘Silver Skin’ is a membrane attached to the bone side of the ribs and it will prevent seasoning from penetrating and make eating them tedious! HINT: Use a Paper Towel to grab hold and pull because it’s awfully fatty. You’ll also probably notice some diaphragm muscle tissue…you can trim or leave it…your preference…for competition, trim it!
OK…ready to rub! We use a pretty liberal portion of our ‘Rib Rub’ along with some neutral oil (Canola) to facilitate even distribution and good penetration into the meat! You don’t need as much rub on the bone side…obviously. We also like to let the ribs come to ‘room temp’ before they hit the smokers so they’re nice and relaxed!
Then it’s off to the smoke…we cook UNDER 225ºF….pretty far under to tell the truth! BUT…it’s a place to start and will yield good results. You can begin to lower the temps gradually as you dial in the prep! Using the tried and true (in MY opinion) 3-2-1 method…we cook them for 6 hours. 3 hours unwrapped and not mopped, 2 hours fully wrapped in foil and 1 hour unwrapped with saucing and higher heat taking place during the final 20 minutes. We’ll add several layers of sauce for those who want them ‘wet’ so that we build a nice crust!
As with ALL protiens…let your ribs rest when they come off the smoke for a while and then serve them up! MMMmmmmm! Along with some fried pickles and cornbread….maybe some BBQ Baked Beans! Ah, I have to go now…need to pick up some ribs! Hope you enjoy your journey!!!