How to Smoke Ribs; Perfect Pork Ribs
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You can’t beat a rack of perfectly smoked barbecue pork ribs. Whether you like them dry or wet, the trick is time and temperature. When you cook barbecue you cook to a temperature more and worry about less time. I cook ribs until the thickest part is 170-180 degrees F.
Most of the ribs I smoke are dry, meaning no barbecue sauce is applied during the cooking process. I will usually have a sauce available for people who like barbecue sauce on their ribs, but I do not typically apply the sauce while I am cooking the ribs.
I do apply a mop when cooking the ribs to keep the ribs moist and add a little flavor. A great mop for ribs is to use 60% apple cider vinegar and 40% cooking oil. This type of mop can be applied with a small bottle sprayer found at your local grocery store.
To smoke a perfect rack of ribs, follow the simple process described below. You will have great results every time.
1. Choose a rack of ribs from your grocery store that is pink in color, and has not been frozen. I prefer St. Louis style ribs, which are pre-trimmed. Your local butcher may also be of assistance to you.
2. The night before you are going to smoke the ribs, remove the membrane off of the rack of ribs. The membrane is a thin, plastic like liner on the back side of the rack of ribs. If you leave the membrane on, the the ribs will not be as tender. To remove the membrane, use a sharp knife to separate the membrane from the ribs at the narrow end of the rack. When you have enough of the membrane separated, use your thumb and index finger to pull and separate the rest of the membrane from the ribs. I pull and cut with my knife at the same time to insure I remove all of the membrane. With a little practice, you will get the hang of it.
3. Apply a thin layer of mustard or olive oil to the ribs. This will help the rub stick to the ribs. I like to use mustard because it makes a great crust.
4. Apply a rub to the ribs. Rub recipes can be found on the left navigation menu.
5. Let the ribs sit in the refrigerator over night.
6. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator about 1 hour before you are going to smoke them. They will be closer to room temperature by cooking time.
7. Heat your smoker to 250 degrees F. I also use an oven thermometer, placed where the rack of ribs will lay, to insure that the temperature is 250 degrees at the cooking surface. Many thermometers built onto smokers will actually be hotter that the actual temperature at the level the ribs are smoking at.
I have found that 250 degrees F is the ideal temperature to smoke ribs at. I use a mixture of Kingsford charcoal and mesquite wood, but other types of wood may be used including hickory, apple, cherry, pecan, etc. It just depends on what flavor you are looking for. Using charcoal, and adding the wood will allow you to control how much smoke you are cooking with.
8. Smoke the ribs for about 5 hours, applying your mop about every 45 minutes. The thickest part of the rack of ribs should be about 170-180 degrees F if a constant temperature was maintained while smoking. During the last 30 minutes, I wrap the ribs in foil, apply my mop, and put them back on the smoker. This will make them very tender. Make sure your exhaust damper is wide open. You do not want to trap any of the smoke in the smoker. This can produce a very bitter taste.
And that is it. Enjoy your ribs.
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