Author Topic: Baby Back Ribs - Step-by-Step, with How to Time Your Cook  (Read 79497 times)

DivotMaker

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Baby Back Ribs - Step-by-Step, with How to Time Your Cook
« on: December 22, 2015, 08:33:26 PM »
Ribs are one of the most-common, and seemingly most-difficult things for lots of folks to smoke; they don't need to be!  One of the problems that lots folks new to BBQ face is how to time a cook to come out right.  Hopefully, this will give you an idea of how I work backwards, from dinner time, to begin preparations.  Other folks use different techniques, but this is what I use regularly, with great success.  Enjoy!


Setting yourself up for success, first rattle out of the cage!
OK, so you’ve decided on your first meal in your new smoker…Let the fun begin!  The key to a successful first smoke, as well as everyone after the first, is good planning and preparation!  While it’s not hard to make some really amazing Q in these smokers, with little effort, there does need to be some effort in preparation.  Here’s where the rubber “meats” the road, so to speak!


First of all, decide when you want to eat your first meal from your new smoker; that’s the deadline we need to work backwards from.  So, let’s say you are going to smoke some baby back ribs (congratulations on an excellent first choice):  We need to work backwards from dinner time so everything comes out right!  The whole idea is to get a feel for how to back-up your preparation start time so everything “works!”


Baby Back Rib Timeline

My baby back rib preparation actually starts the night before the smoke.  If I plan to have ribs on plates at 5 p.m. Saturday, I’m going to do some simple prep Friday evening.

Friday 7 p.m.:   Remove the ribs from packaging and rinse them.  Pat dry with paper towels.  Remove the “silver skin,” or thick membrane on the back of the bones.  This is important to make really good ribs!  This picture shows the silver skin on the back of the ribs; notice how shiny it is?  It will block all flavoring, and make the ribs tough, so we definitely want to remove it!


Once you peel that silver skin off, you’re ready to rub!  I coat my ribs in plain, cheap yellow mustard before applying the rub.  What?? Did he say “yellow mustard??”  Yep.  Yellow mustard!  It creates an incredible binder for the rub, and cooks completely away without imparting any flavor to the meat!  I believe it is the perfect binder!  I tend to use olive oil on poultry, but everything else gets yellow mustard!


Once the ribs are slathered in yellow mustard (yes, “slathered” is a southern term), apply the rub, liberally, to both sides of the ribs.  Once rubbed, wrap the racks in plastic wrap (or even seal in vacuum bags), and place in the fridge.  As I mentioned, the ribs will have an overnight sleep while the rub you just put on them lets the ribs “get happy!”  You will be infusing the rub’s flavor into the ribs!  We love happy ribs!


We’re now done with our night-before prep!


Saturday, 10 a.m.:  I know these baby backs are going to take 5 ˝ to 6 hours, so I’m ready to prepare the smoker.  I start by foiling the bottom of the smoker with heavy-duty (wide) foil, and also covering the lid of the smoke box.  Don’t forget to poke a hole in the foil covering the drain/air hole in the floor of the smoker!!  This is very important.  A pencil works great for this.


Select and weigh the wood.  What? “Weigh” the wood?  Yes!  These smokers are very efficient, and a little wood goes a long way!  I know, from experience, that I don’t want more than 2 to 2 ˝ ounces of wood for ribs.  This will impart a good smoky flavor, but not “over-smoke” them.  The meat will only “absorb” the smoke until the meat reaches around 140 degrees internal temperature, so if you continue smoking, you’ll just be collecting smoke on the surface.  This will make the meat “bitter,” and over-smoked.  Think of what the inside of your smoker looks like; you don’t want that creosote buildup on the meat!


Once the smoker is lined with foil, and the wood is weighed and placed in the smoke box, we’re ready for some ribs!



Before putting the meat in the smoker, we want to add a water pan for moisture.  I like to use disposable aluminum “mini-loaf” pans.  They fit perfectly on the floor of the smoker, next to the smoke box (don’t put it on a shelf).  Some of my fellow forum members use ceramic pans, or even just soup cans!  The idea is, simply, to add some liquid for moisture inside the box.  I usually use apple juice in my pan, but water, beer, or any other aromatic liquid will work. 
Saturday, 11:30 a.m.  Let’s get our ribs on!  Unwrap those happy little suckers, lay them on your shelves (bone-side down), and take them to the smoker.  Once they’re in place, close and latch the door, and you’re ready for takeoff!  Before turning the smoker on, let’s do a quick check:
1.   Foil in place? Check!
2.   Hole poked foil for drip hole?  (I failed to do this once, early-on, and it was a real nightmare trying to get it done, once the smoker was hot!) Check!
3.   Drip pan in place?  Check!
4.   Water pan in place, on the floor of the smoker, touching the smoke box?  Check!
5.   Beer in the fridge?  (OK, this one’s optional).  Check!
Let’s rock and roll!  Check!


Set the temp to 235 and let her rip!  We’re off to the races with our first batch of oh-so-delicious baby back ribs!  Nothing to do now but wait and watch.  And, don’t open that smoker door for anything!  Let it work its magic!



At about 15-20 minutes in to the smoke, you’re going to start seeing thin blue smoke coming out of the top vent, just like during seasoning.  As the meat continues to cook, the smoke will be mixed with the vapor from the meat, and will make anyone insane with desire!  And, since you’re not having to do anything but wait, enjoying a cold beverage within “smell range” of the smoker is a good time!

Saturday, 4:00 p.m.:  We’re eating at 5 p.m., so we want to make sure our ribs are done.  We are now 4 ˝ hours into the smoke, so it’s time to finally open the door!  Remember, it’s been “no peeking” up to this point!



To check the ribs for doneness, we’re going to look for meat pullback from the bones (exposed ends of the bones), and also bark (the dark, chewy coating of the caramelized rub).  A great trick I learned, from “Old Sarge” on the forum, is the “toothpick test.”  Take a wooden toothpick, stick it in the meat next to a bone.  You’ll feel the tenderness as you press it in.  Then, give a little sideways pull away from the bone.  If the meat gives, and the toothpick doesn’t break, they’re perfect!  Pull them out, double-wrap in heavy-duty foil, and place them in a cooler until supper time!  If they’re not quite done, give them another 20 minutes and try again.  When they’re done, they don’t need to “rest,” like larger cuts of meat.  Take them in, slice and serve!  Resting, under a foil tent, while you get the side dishes ready, doesn’t hurt, though.  They’ll still be nice and hot!



I can usually do three racks of baby back ribs in about 5:15 to 5:45 minutes, so use that as a guideline.  These are one of the only things I cook by time and temp alone; you just can’t get an accurate internal meat temp on something like ribs.  It’s more about feel and appearance.  You’ll know when they’re done, if you follow this method.
 


I hope this gives you an idea of how to properly time a cook.  Always work backwards from serving time, and allow enough preparation time to get things ready.  As you can see, the preparation is the most time-consuming, but really not that bad.  The great thing is that you didn’t have to constantly tend to your smoker for the last 6 hours!  Welcome to the world of Lazy Q!
« Last Edit: December 22, 2015, 10:26:59 PM by DivotMaker »
Tony from NW Arkansas
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Limey

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Re: Baby Back Ribs - Step-by-Step, with How to Time Your Cook
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2015, 09:15:11 PM »
Tony, thanks for this. I think a series of "how to smoke ...(fill in the blank) would be a great addition to this forum. We have lots of new members and also lots of old, opinionated, members and it can get quite confusing for newbies. A series of "how to smoke a very, very good ...." would be great. Let's not let the perfect (whatever that is for each of us) get in the way of the very very good-which is quite easy to achieve with these smokers.
Roger from the Florida Keys.
Two SI#3s, both with switched bypass and Aubers(different locations), Viking, Jenn Aire & five TEC infra red grills. Recently acquired UDS.

DivotMaker

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Re: Baby Back Ribs - Step-by-Step, with How to Time Your Cook
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2015, 09:34:35 PM »
Thanks, Roger!  I plan to try and do at least one of these for each of the "common" smokes.  I have brined pork butt and ribs now.  I'll be working on more.  Like you said, there are many, many opinions that will influence new folks, over time.  I plan to do basic recipes that I use, for convenience sake.  Folks can modify on their own, based on what else they learn here.  The recipes I post will not be controversial, just simple SI BBQ.
Tony from NW Arkansas
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jcboxlot

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Re: Baby Back Ribs - Step-by-Step, with How to Time Your Cook
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2015, 10:22:35 PM »
+1 and add that to a youtube video and someone will be selling more units.

I'd modify, that the juice box touch the heat element, I feel that makes a difference.


Overall, this could be printed and added in the box when shipping to a newbie.

Good basic start to finish step.  thanks.



Smokin It #2.  Weber Genesis. Old Smokey charcoal.  Work from home antique tool dealer and living the dream.  Dad, Husband, Cook.  John~York PA

DivotMaker

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Re: Baby Back Ribs - Step-by-Step, with How to Time Your Cook
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2015, 10:26:02 PM »
Thanks John.  We have a comprehensive manual, with recipes, almost done.  I'll adjust the water pan instructions - thanks!
Tony from NW Arkansas
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SuperDave

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Re: Baby Back Ribs - Step-by-Step, with How to Time Your Cook
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2015, 09:55:13 AM »
Thanks, Roger!  I plan to try and do at least one of these for each of the "common" smokes.  .
Might be received better if you have a few different guys post them. 
Model 4, Harrisville, Utah

DivotMaker

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Re: Baby Back Ribs - Step-by-Step, with How to Time Your Cook
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2015, 07:51:52 PM »
Probably would, Dave, but it just opens up too big a can of worms, i.e., who?  We have so many great contributing members, that someone's feelings are bound to get stepped on if they aren't picked.  So, the easiest solution, for new folks, is to post "basic" recipes, that are common throughout the site, but hard to find.  Then, let folks branch out on their own and search/experiment, and learn who to "follow." 

Please understand, too, that these are not recipes that are directed toward the experienced smokers; they are for total newbies that just need something simple to start with, and make some good Q!  So, I'm not sure what you mean by "received better;" better than what?  No offense, but the recipes I'll post are proven successes, many, many times, and are basic.  If a brand-new owner comes to the forum, they don't have a frame of reference, they just want a simple start.  You, and many others, have killer recipes, but (unfortunately), our current format does not make them easy to find.  This is a "quick fix" stop-gap means of getting new owners some info, quickly.

To address what you've suggested:  I have also thought about doing a survey of the "top 5" recipes, in each section, and posting them in a separate section.  These will be "stickies," and not open to comments - just the recipe.  Btw, this is the only one of these basic recipes that will be unlocked, because I am open to suggestions.   Thanks for your input!
Tony from NW Arkansas
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SmokinSusie-Q

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Re: Baby Back Ribs - Step-by-Step, with How to Time Your Cook
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2016, 10:45:16 AM »
Tony, thanks for this. I think a series of "how to smoke ...(fill in the blank) would be a great addition to this forum. We have lots of new members and also lots of old, opinionated, members and it can get quite confusing for newbies. A series of "how to smoke a very, very good ...." would be great. Let's not let the perfect (whatever that is for each of us) get in the way of the very very good-which is quite easy to achieve with these smokers.

Add me to the list of newbies who think this would be a great help.  I read so many different suggestions for the particular meat that I want to smoke (prime rib, pork loin, ribs, etc) that, while helpful, it's also confusing.  I find myself going back over pages of comments looking for some clarity.  Maybe that's the way it has to be, and we have to figure it out on our own.  There is no one way for sure, but guidelines as suggested  by the quote would be appreciated.  I constantly refer to the ones on "Smoking Times, Temps, and Wood" and basic Auber programs.  I have them laminated and in my smoking notebook along with my recipes as well as those of other members. 
Sue
Cedar Point, NC

DivotMaker

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Re: Baby Back Ribs - Step-by-Step, with How to Time Your Cook
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2016, 08:35:35 PM »
Thanks, Susie.  This is a "work in progress," but I appreciate your comments!
Tony from NW Arkansas
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Bucket from NW Georgia

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Re: Baby Back Ribs - Step-by-Step, with How to Time Your Cook
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2016, 07:52:17 PM »
Thanks for this DM.  I look forward to these guides for other cuts / meats as well.

Northener

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Re: Baby Back Ribs - Step-by-Step, with How to Time Your Cook
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2016, 01:51:31 PM »
Thanks Tony, for the step by step on the ribs, It's very much appreciated. Although I have done baby backs, St. Louis and spares along with quite a few shoulders for pulled pork. I always seem to need a refresher course to jog the memory. Just can't remember as good as I used to I quess.
Jeff 
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Texan in Tulsa

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Re: Baby Back Ribs - Step-by-Step, with How to Time Your Cook
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2016, 03:59:12 PM »
Tony that is a great guide. I did use mustard as a binder on my St Louis ribs a few weeks ago on your recommendation, but hadn't thought of using it on other cuts of meat. I've always rubbed beef and other cuts with olive oil, but will try the mustard on those as well.
Andy - Broken Arrow, OK

DivotMaker

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Re: Baby Back Ribs - Step-by-Step, with How to Time Your Cook
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2016, 05:46:08 PM »
Andy, I actually only use mustard on pork (ribs & butts), and rarely on beef.  Not sure why, but I tend to go olive oil on beef.  I think it's more of a "bark" thing...mustard promotes a really good bark on lean pork, and I don't look for that so much on beef.
Tony from NW Arkansas
"Official Smokin-It Test Pilot"
Smokin-It Model 1, 2D conversion, and 3D
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Dead👁Daniel

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Re: Baby Back Ribs - Step-by-Step, with How to Time Your Cook
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2016, 05:01:31 PM »
Hello tony nice detail on ribs! Do the ribs come out falling off the bone?
I am still some what new to smoking and find my self scratching my head
At times. All my family and friends like falling off the bone ribs and some
Times they don't come out like that. Any suggestions?
John ohio locomotive engineer
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SmokinSusie-Q

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Re: Baby Back Ribs - Step-by-Step, with How to Time Your Cook
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2016, 05:14:59 PM »
Hello tony nice detail on ribs! Do the ribs come out falling off the bone?
I am still some what new to smoking and find my self scratching my head
At times. All my family and friends like falling off the bone ribs and some
Times they don't come out like that. Any suggestions?

John, I'm certainly not an authority on this subject but I read a report from an authority who said you don't want falling off the bone ribs.  People use that phrase often but if they're falling off the bone, then they're overdone.  if I'm wrong, someone will correct me I'm sure.
Sue
Cedar Point, NC