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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

ribs, man do i love ribs

we threw a house warming party a couple of weekends ago. i started out buying 18 pounds of ribs, and figured that wouldn't be enough. i ended up with about 50 pounds. yup. 16 full racks of ribs. so what the hell do you do with that many ribs? besides hope someone else cooks them and invites you to the party?

the night before the party, i precooked the ribs. how, you ask? boiled the hell out of them, that's how.
precooking (boiling) the ribs:
batch 1: big pot, 4 liters of regular pepsi, boiling. drop slabs in, being sure to not crowd them too much. i have a good sized stock pot, so i was able to put two slabs in. boil for an hour. i skimmed off the nasty foam a time or two during cooking.

batch 2: big pot, water to cover ribs. in the pot, i tossed in a couple (well, half a head) of cloves of garlic, crushed, but not minced. didn't figure it would be necessary. boil ribs for about an hour.

repeat until done. as you Can guess, this took a good part of my evening.

after the ribs were boiled, i prepared them for the fire by putting a dry rub on them, wrapping them in foil, and tossing into the fridge until the next day.

dry rub 1: i used this on the ribs going into the smoker, since it is a lot lower in temperature, and i didn't have to worry about the rub burning on the grill.

this rub came from stuff i had in the spice rack. explore. the flavors you keep in your pantry are probably your favorites, so use them. no need to go out and buy any, unless you don't have ANY, in which case, my mix is a good starting point.
  • 1 cup brown sugar. i like dark brown for ribs, more of a molasses flavor
  • 3 tbs kosher salt (you can use 1 tbs more if you don't use other season salts. i like season salts like celery salt, or cajun, or even lowery's)
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder, or a couple of tbs of dried onion flakes. i put a little of both in
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp cajun seasoning (or my favorite Tony Chacher's creole seasonings)
  • 1 tsp paprika (i like hungarian myself, but it's not required)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder, or chili powder, or 1/2 tsp each. what the hell, live a little
  • a couple of good shakes of lowery's season salt, and a couple of celery salt. these are not required, but they do make a great addition
  • wait, there's more!
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary powder or rubbed. you don't want a lot of chunkies in this mix

looks like a lot, i know. it's just a zip through the spice rack, truth be told. i figured all of these things would work with pork ribs, so i added them.
toss it all into a bowl, and mix it up with a fork or wisk.

when the ribs cooked in the pepsi cooled, i placed them on a big sheet of foil, packed both sides with rub, and sealed it up. remember, they are going to drain a bit, and you don't want that juice all over your fridge. pop them in the fridge until the next morning. these ribs were destined for the smoker.

rub 2
this was concocted because i was going to use bbq sauce on a majority of the ribs, since that's what folks expect when they come to a bbq. bbq sauce. since bbq sauce is already pretty sweet, i built a rub without any sugar.
  • 4 tbs kosher salt
  • 1 tbs garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp cajun season salt
  • grated orange peel, about 1/2 an orange worth (hey, i've got a tree in my back yard. might as well use them!)

wisk together, and spread on the ribs once they cool enough to handle. wrap in foil, and refridgerate overnite.

smoker: prep smoker by digging out that 1/2 empty white wine bottle from the bottom shelf. toss a couple of chunks of apple wood and a couple of hickory into a ziploc bag, pour in about a cup of wine, and then fill with water to just cover the chunks. let them soak for at least 1/2 an hour. or, do like i did, and start soaking them the night before.
get the smoker heated up, and toss the chunks on the fire. i use a bitty cast iron skillet, since my smoker is electric. works wonders. just make sure the skillet is resting directly on the heating element. add the water bowl, put the rest of the wine into the bowl, and add enough boiling water to make about a quart to a quart and a half. put in the racks, and drop the ribs on.
note: i started the smoker at 0900 to be sure the ribs were done by 1400. they were done to perfection, but it takes a lot longer than you might think. 6 hours was just right. no wind, and the weather was nice, cool but not brisk. outside temp affects cooking time. so does opening the smoker to see how things are going. figure about an extra 1/2 hour each time you open the smoker. lookie-loos be ware.
NOTE if you don't have a smoker, but have a kettle grill, you can get pretty close by doing the following. use about 1/2 the coals you normally would. get them fired up, and set up for indirect heat. place an aluminum pan on the coal grate between the two piles of coals, add boiling water, toss on your wood chunks, and let it rip. add 5 or so coals per side per hour until ribs done to about 150-160 internal temp.

preps: toss a couple chunks of apple and hickory in a bag and soak with water for at least a half hour. i use a weber kettle grill, so cooking with indirect heat is easy. 1/2 the coals on each side, with a big opening in the middle.
once the coals are hot, drop the wood on the fire, place the top grill on, and take two slabs of ribs, smothered in your favorite bbq sauce. keep a bunch of sauce handy, since you'll want to baste the top rack of ribs each time you rotate them. most of the sauce is going to end up in the bottom of the kettle anyway as they cook, so you need to replenish the sauce as you cook. lay one slab on the grill, and place the second on top of the first. cover and walk away for about 20 minutes. come back, and rotate the top slab to the bottom, and cover. repeat twice more, flipping the ribs to the other side on trip three. by the end of the hour, both sides of both slabs will have been on the grill itself. just before taking them off, toss them to the sides above the coals and blast each side long enough to start turning the sauce black. this is really a cosmetic step, since most folks that have eaten home cooked bbq ribs expect them to be burned to a crisp, and tough as shoe leather. at least give them the appearance of burned to a crisp with a little blackening of the sauce. they will be amazed at how tender and juicy these ribs are. they'll think you are a genius.

of course, if you LIKE your ribs leather tough and dried out, you can always set up your grill for standard q'ing and drop the ribs right over the coals in the traditional way. they'll still turn out darned good, because you don't have to spend a lot of time over the fire (remember, we boiled them the night before). be sure to watch and not burn them too badly though. slather on the sauce, drop them on, turn when the sauce starts to blacken, and pull off when the second side is smokin'. they'll be a little drier, and tougher than the indirect method, but conversely, they'll be done within 10 minutes of hitting the grill. nice trade off.

also note that i cooked 4 slabs with just the second rub, no sauce on the bbq. they turned out great.

for a complete list of my online recipes, follow the link here


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, i really find your site amusing! it's really cool that you can come up with so many things.. hey.. pass by my site sometime.. anthony.i.ph.. ciao!

4/21/05, 10:58 PM  
Blogger bhd said...

Funny. I don't remember getting an invitation....

4/23/05, 6:11 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

Oh ma gawd. I'm like, bowing before Bo the Rib God here.

You rock! (Or you're completely nuts).


4/24/05, 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apple and hickory eh? I like to use maple and cherry, but I also use a gas grill.

Have you tried slow cooking the ribs in apple juice?

4/28/05, 6:18 PM  
Blogger bothenook said...

i've used apple juice to braise them, and i've used apple juice to par-boil them before throwing them on the grill as well. my stepson talked me into the pepsi thing, and i have to tell you, it was killer.

4/28/05, 7:51 PM  

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