Last year my husband took up a new hobby of smoking food. Right from the beginning his food was delicious, but it has only gotten better with experience. This is by far my favorite thing he makes! Words cannot describe how delicious these baby back ribs are!
You can use this process for any type of pork ribs: Baby Backs, St. Louis, or Spare. Baby back ribs are more expensive. But you get what you pay for and by far are the best! I am a very frugal person, so if I’m suggesting the more expensive option, you know it’s going to be worth it! You will also notice a difference in quality between a grocery store and a butcher shop. We almost always buy ours fresh from a local butcher shop.
Preparing the Ribs for Cooking
- Remove the ribs from the packaging. If you notice they are a little slimy, wipe them down with a paper towel. Cut off any extra meat or skin flaps that are loosely connected (if you leave them on they will burn while cooking).
- Remove the membrane from the underside of the slab. This is a the trick for tender and easy to eat ribs. If you leave the membrane on your ribs, they will be chewy and hard to separate.
The easiest way to remove the membrane is to use a butter knife. Run the edge of the butter knife under the membrane and on top of a rib in the center of the rack. Once you have the membrane started, slowly life up to tear the membrane away. A paper towel can be used to help you hold onto the membrane. All membrane should be removed and discarded.
In the above picture the ribs on the left side have had the membrane removed, and the ribs on the right still has the membrane. You can see that the membrane makes the ribs looked shiny. If the membrane is not removed it holds the meat together and makes it difficult to tear it apart .
The next step is covering the ribs in mustard. Make sure mustard covers EVERYTHING! Including the ends and rib tips. Don’t worry the mustard is just a binding tool and will cook off. I promise these ribs do not taste like mustard!
Now add your seasoning. You can use whatever you want. However, we recommend John Henry’s or Three Little Pigs. We have used both and LOVE them! We buy these from our local butcher shop, but you can also get them online:
You can buy John Henry’s Pecan Rub
here (affiliate link).
You can buy Three Little Pigs BBQ Rub here (affiliate link).
Make sure you generously season your ribs. Then drizzle honey over the top.
Cover your ribs and refrigerate overnight or for a full 24 hours.
Before cooking, take the ribs our of the fridge and let them sit for a few hours or until they are room temperature.
Cooking the Ribs
You can use whatever smoker you have access to.
My husband uses a Brinkman Vertical Charcoal Smoker (affiliate link).
He used lump charcoal and cherry wood. He kept his smoker at a consistent 225 degrees for four hours. He had to add more wood chips about every hour to keep the smoke constant. He also uses a 50/50 mixture of water and apple juice in his water pan (this is important to keep the smoke ‘we’t so the ribs don’t dry out while cooking).
Cook with the meat side down, and bone side up. At hour three the ribs were flipped and BBQ sauce was brushed on.
A note about the BBQ Sauce: We make our own BBQ sauce. You can find the recipe in the post. We have never used store bought BBQ. I highly recommend using this homemade version that is very flavorful and can be eaten with all types of meat. It is also naturally gluten free.
My mouth is seriously watering just looking at these pictures!!
After four hours, pulled them off the smoker. Place them in a pan and cover with foil. Bake them in the oven for an additional 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
We like our ribs to fall off the bone, so they are cooked until the bones are sticking out and can easily be pulled out. If you like your ribs to be chewy then skip the oven part.
Drizzle honey and more BBQ sauce on top of the ribs and serve.
And by the way, these are gluten free 🙂
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