“Happiness is best served slow smoked and sauced!”
Back in my younger days, smoking barbecue was one of my favorite pastimes but then, one thing led to another and I all but gave it up. Well, back in the fall of 2018 I purchased a Camp Chef SmokePro wood pellet grill and my outdoor cooking life has never been the same.
Over the past 18 months I have smoked dozens of slabs of baby back ribs and now I think I have it down to an art! Here’s how I do it….
‘FALL OFF THE BONE’ SMOKED PORK BABY BACK RIBS
- Start off with a nice looking, thawed slab of ribs. I prefer Baby Back ribs over the St. Louis style ribs. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs (some brands come with the membrane already removed).
- Apply & rub Honey Mustard all over the slab. This helps the dry rub to stick to the slab.
- Liberally season both sides of the slab with the dry rub and pat it gently into the mustard coating.
- At this point I normally seal the slab in a plastic 2-gal ziplock bag and let it sit in the fridge for 2-10 hours. You can skip this and go directly to the smoker if you are too impatient to wait.
- Prepare the smoker … make sure it is amply loaded with wood pellets of your choice. Set the thermostat control to Hi-Smoke 220-degrees and turn it on.
- When the smoker reaches around 220-degrees, it is time to put the slab of ribs in the grill. There is nothing wrong with cooking your ribs on the smoker’s grate either side up but I prefer to use a rack. You simple lay the rack on the grate and then insert the slab into the rack so the slab is resting on its side instead of the top or bottom.
- Now close the lid and DO NOT open it for the next three hours except to quickly spritz all exposed sides of the slab about every hour. Spritz with any fruit juice (I prefer apple juice), soft drink or beer.
- After three hours (and, more importantly, an internal temperature of around 170-degrees, the slab should be carefully removed, using tongs, and wrapped in heavy-duty aluminum foil … you should liberally spritz it before wrapping.
- Now return the wrapped slab to the smoker and insert temp probe(s) (if you have them) into a meaty area of the slab. At this point the smoker temp control should be turned up a bit to 225-degrees. The smoke setting is unimportant because the smoking effect has already occurred.
- After 1 1/2 hours, start monitoring the meat temp pretty close. If you desire “fall-off-the-bone” tenderness then you will need to wait until the meat internal temp is 112-115F and that will typically happen sometime between 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours smoke time while wrapped. If you like your ribs where you have to bite the firm meat off the bone, then you can remove the slab anytime between reaching 97-105F.
- I DO NOT open or unwrap the meat and let it smoke for a final hour like many pit masters suggest because I believe it causes a darker, crustier bark and a less-moist rib. The decision is yours, you can use the traditional 3-2-1 method or my 3-2 method.
- Last, when the meat reaches the desired temp, carefully remove it with tongs, place it on a large baking pan and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before unwrapping and serving.
- I prefer to dry rub my ribs rather than mop them with sauce. If you want sauce then serve it warm at the table on the side of the dish.
- Never ever par-boil the slab of ribs before smoking!
- I’ve used a number of different varieties of wood pellets and the meat seems to taste the same to me in addition to continuing to be delicious.
- If you don’t have one or more temp probes then you must get an instant read digital meat thermometer … Smoking is all about reading the smoke chamber temp and the meat temp!
- My method DOES NOT result in “competition-style ribs” which are still slightly adhered to the bone and have a slightly chewy texture, yet they are still tender. The meat should pull off the bone with little effort, and leave a bare bone behind.
- My method DOES result in “fall-off-the-bone” smoked ribs which are preferred by most hungry folks because they are so tender & juicy that they will literally melt in your mouth. After the bones are easily removed, serve the ribs on a plate like pulled pork or put them between two slices of Texas Toast and give your guests a true boneless rib sandwich!
- The removal of the membrane takes practice but it’s easy once you’ve mastered it. There are dozens of photos and videos online about the technique.
- As I receive questions, I will try to add to this commentary.