The great thing about having your family favorite recipes in an online blog is that everyone always has access to them AND that you can improve them when you come across something that makes a great recipe even greater. That’s exactly what I am doing today, after a follower messaged me suggesting that his smoker must work much different than mine.
Of course, that is always true with every cooking method. Ovens, grills, and smokers all have some degree of variation in heating capability, smoke volume, and the thermostats attached to these devices. Also, most recipes are simply timing based. To me, most recipes are BS, like the 3, 2, 1 popular rib recipe. (3 hours of smoke, two hours wrapped in foil and 1 hour back on the smoker with sauce on). They may work but the only way to make them perfect is with an accurate temperature gauge. (Variation exists in all things including grills, weather and the meat itself.
I decided to better prescribe smoking methods utilizing the best temperature gauging system I know. ThermoPro works perfectly and is easily available on Amazon. In the recipe directions, I now can indicate the hour by hour temperature you are looking for at various stages, which takes the guesswork out of the process and values variation.
The key to using a temperature gauge system like this with ribs is to insert the gauge between two of the largest bones, and be sure you have the gauge in the meat between the two bones without touching either bone. Of course, you can utilize an instant read thermometer, which many people do. However, the “prescription” will be harder to follow, in that you need to open your smoker frequently and take the time to insert the thermometer. Wireless ThermoPro thermometers allow you to go about your business during any smoke, yet have a wireless indicator device in your pocket, which constantly reads the meat temperature.
Again, this recipe is for baby back ribs, not for spare ribs. It is important to know the difference in that spare ribs are much larger and from a different part of the pig..
Smoking is an art, though it’s made much better today by having great smoking equipment. We now use a pellet smoker to perfectly control the temperature. Pellet smokers allow you to fill the hopper with enough pellets to last the entire smoke, not have to constantly tend to the temperature level, and use any wood I want to use by ordering them online, or stopping by a store that carries all varieties.
We enjoy many woods, and traditionalists may only use hickory, but we have found a certain enjoyable sweetness comes from using a blend of 1/2 hickory and 1/2 pecan. We also suggest two homemade sauces and both recipes, Bourbon Barbeque Sauce (most popular and sweet) and Carolina Sauce (more vinegar based), are found here.
- 2 Racks of Baby Back Ribs
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon rub mixture used on pork
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 Cup Onion Powder
- 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Kosher Salt
- 1/4 Cup Garlic Powder
- 1/4 Cup Paprika
- 1/4 Cup Black Pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Ancho Chili Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Celery Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
- 2 Teaspoons Ground Mustard
- 1/4 Cup Apple Juice
- 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
Foil Wrap Mixture
- 4 Tablespoons Soft Butter
- 8 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 4 Tablespoons Honey
- Remove your ribs from the refrigerator and let them sit on your counter for 20 minutes, to come closer to room temperature.
- Cut each full rack in half for ease of handling.
- Remove the rib membrane by taking the ribs and placing them bone side up. Then insert a butter knife under the membrane on top of one of the bones. Wiggle the knife around to loosen the membrane. Take paper towels and grab the loose membrane with it, while holding the rack down with your other hand. You should be able to pull the membrane right off.
- Mix all the marinade ingredients in a tall glass for ease.
- Then, inject the marinade in the meat between all bones.
- Mix all the dry rub ingredients in a bowl and then cover both sides of the ribs with them, pressing them in.
- Start your smoker and set the temperature at 225 degrees.
- Once your smoker is up to the temperature, insert the temperature gauge into the meat between two larger bones, and be sure it does not touch a bone.
- Insert a water tray, I just use a small foil pan filled with water, under the ribs if possible. This keeps your ribs moist during the smoking process.
- Then, put the ribs bone side down on the racks and shut your smoker.
- When I have more than 2 racks of ribs I utilize rib racks. By using them you can stand up the ribs and fit more into your smoker.
- Put Apple Cider Vinegar and Apple Juice in a spray bottle, and spray your ribs with a 50/50 mixture of apple juice and apple cider vinegar every 45 minutes.
- During the smoke, your ribs should be between 115 and 120 degrees at the end of the first hour, 140 to 150 degrees at the end of the second hour, and once they reach 165 to 170 degrees around 3 to 3 1/2 hours you should wrap them in foil with the mixture of honey, butter and brown sugar indicated in the ingredient recipe.
- Once wrapped, reinsert your temperature gauge between two bones as before.
- Return the foiled 1/2 racks to the smoker and place the “meat side down, or bone side up”.
- The ribs in the foil should be near 180 degrees at 4to 4 1/2 hours.
- Once they reach 195 degrees remove the ribs from the foil.
- Then glaze your ribs with your desired sauce and return them to to the smoker uncovered, bone side down.
- Reinsert the temperature gauge as before.
- The glaze will set and become tacky. Remove the ribs at 203 degrees. This should be enough to set the glaze, make the meat still stay on the bone yet be tender and juicy to the bite.
- FYI, rib meat is not supposed to fall off the bone and that’s why all rib competitions want the meat to be on the bone, yet come off easily to the bite. Nevertheless, if you want the meat to fall off the bone take the temperature to 205.