Spring has finally arrived and what better way to start it off than with some slow smoked baby back ribs! We all have our favorite ways to prepare baby back ribs, so this week I figured I would share my favorite. I have combined a variety of techniques over the years and have come to rely on this recipe the most often. Using a Big Green Egg I have found that this makes my life much easier, and definitely means less time babysitting my ribs on the grill.
For my ribs I use a 3-1-1 cooking method (3 hours smoke, 1 hour foil wrapped, and 1 hour heat, half of which with sauce) which I have found works just as well as other methods, but cuts the cooking time by approximately an hour. This means less time for guests to wait, and more time enjoying the delicious goodness. Keep in mind that cooking times are not exact and a quick read thermometer is a handy tool to keep near the grill. I also incorporate the bend test which is done by grabbing the ribs in the center of the rack with your tongs and gently bouncing the ribs. If they start to crack and separate at the bark then they are done. Contrary to popular belief ribs should NOT fall off the bone! They should pull easily from the bone while eating, but fall off the bone ribs generally mean they have been parboiled (losing flavor) and/or overcooked. If you follow this simple process, you can enjoy delicious, simple, and flavorful ribs every time!
- 1 slab of baby back pork ribs
- Favorite barbecue rub (I prefer Dizzy Pig Coarse Dizzy Dust)
- Yellow mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Wood chips for flavor (I prefer Apple, but Maple or Cherry are good also)
- 1/2 cup Apple juice
- Heavy duty aluminum foil
- Favorite barbecue sauce
Prep the Ribs
I start by preparing my ribs the night before. This allows for the acidity of the mustard to penetrate the muscle fibers and also allows the ribs to absorb more of the bbq rub flavor.
- Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. This is the tough and hard to chew layer on the backside of the rack of ribs. By using a piece of paper towel it is much easier to grab and can usually be pulled off in one piece.
- Rub a generous layer of yellow mustard all over the front and back of the baby back ribs. This will help break down the muscle fibers as well as provide a better surface for your bbq rub to adhere.
- Apply a generous amount of bbq rub to both sides of the slab of ribs. Make sure to fill all the nooks and crannies to ensure great flavor to every bite of the ribs.
- Salt and pepper to your taste. I personally do not add any more salt, as the bbq rub generally has enough in it for my taste.
Prep the Grill
- Set temperature to 225 degrees fahrenheit indirect. If using a Big Green Egg, use the Conveggtor/plate setter in order to create an indirect setting. If using a gas grill turn on the burner the farthest away from where you want the ribs to be placed.
- If using charcoal, soak your preferred wood chips for approximately 30 minutes. This allows you to place the chips on the charcoal without them catching on fire immediately.
- If using a gas grill, place the wood chips in a smoker box or wrap them in foil with holes poked through it. You will set this directly below the cooking grids above the burner you have turned on for indirect heat.
- Place the ribs directly on the grill or if cooking multiple slabs place them in a vertical rib rack.
- These will cook for 3 hours initially and you may need to add more wood chips after the first hour of cooking time.
- Next for the 4th hour of cooking time you will need a large sheet of aluminum foil and a half cup of apple juice. Place the ribs in the aluminum foil and pour the apple juice in the foil. Wrap the aluminum foil tight around the ribs (you may need to double wrap the ribs to prevent tearing) and place back on the grill. This will cook for one hour still at 225 degrees fahrenheit.
- The last hour of grilling will be separated into two 1/2 hour segments. Increase cooking temperature to 275-300 degrees fahrenheit while still cooking indirect.
- Remove ribs from foil and place back on the grill for 30 minutes.
- The last 30 minutes we will move the ribs directly over the heat and apply sauce, flipping every 6 minutes and applying more sauce.
- Test your ribs using a digital quick read thermometer (180-190 degrees) or by using the bend test explained earlier.
- Eat and enjoy!
Follow this recipe and I’m certain you will enjoy delicious flavorful baby back ribs every time!