I go to various places and hear about how wonderful the ribs are, only to be disappointed. I have a pretty specific taste for my ribs, so if you enjoy your ribs with a deep smoky flavor but spicy and especially tender, then we are kindred spirits. Read on. You’ll soon be considered a top-level smoker in your neighborhood before you know it.
Here’s what you DON’T do.
1. Use a lot of charcoal
2. Depend on the charcoal to add the smoky flavor
3. Use a gas grill
4. Use water soaked wood chips
5. Think you’ll do everything in an hour (ribs take time)
6. Use a smoker with a pan of water (we’re smoking ribs, not steaming crab)
7. Use sauce from a store
8. You can use riblettes (short flat bones) or western style ribs but I wouldn’t recommend them. You need to use baby back for the best results.
I like my ribs dry but a good sauce is a must. Find a recipe online for homemade sauce and make it the night before. The ingredients are pretty basic; ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, Tabasco, etc. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be good.
First, take about four charcoal briquettes and get them going as normal. If your grill has a dampener, you’ll want to do this right next to it if possible. A grill with a door to tend to the wood is best, but if yours doesn’t have this, you can move the ribs and the grill grate as necessary. You lose heat every time you open the lid so you’ll want to do this sparingly. When the charcoal has ashed over, add some dry hickory wood CHIPS to get a fire going. I prefer hickory but you can use mesquite. Once the fire is going, put on some hickory CHUNKS.
The internal temperature of your grill should rise above 140 but not exceed 225. This is the smoking range. Once your temp gets here, close all the dampeners. You’ll need to open the dampeners as needed to feed the fire when a temp increase is necessary. You will also need to add chips and chunks along the way.
Now for the ribs. Just lay them on the grill racks and sprinkle rotisserie seasoning on them. Baste them with apple juice every hour. I know the chicken seasoning is strange but I am almost always disappointed with the rub recipes I find. They are terribly bland. Rotisserie seasoning has a spicy kick. However, if you don’t like things too spicy, I’d go with a standard rib rub. You can find them in any grilling cookbook or the internet. Allow the ribs to smoke for five hours. Now, throw them in boiling water for 45 minutes. This tenderizes them a lot. When this is done, sprinkle more seasoning on them.
If you don’t like them too tender, boil them for half an hour before smoking them or bake them after you smoke them. If you want to bake them afterward, wrap them in heavy duty aluminum foil and baste them one more time with apple juice. The heavy duty aluminum foil is important because the bones will break through the regular stuff. When you wrap them, make sure the seam of the foil is facing up. Bake them for two hours at 200 degrees F. Once the meat has pulled away from the ends of the bones a half inch or so, they’re done. If they do this after smoking, you will still need to bake them. This ensures tenderness. Sprinkle more rotisserie seasoning or rub on them on them, and have your homemade sauce available. Serve and enjoy.
Even with as much as I’ve provided here, it does take time and practice to get the ribs just the way you want them. So, have fun and good luck experimenting.