Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Backyard BBQ Part 2 - Smoked Ribs

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First up in the Backyard BBQ series is smoked ribs. My brother in Indy has a smoker and is always turning out things like brisket, pulled pork, ribs, and more. I decided that just because I don't own a smoker doesn't mean I can't do it too! After consulting numerous cookbooks and barbecue expert websites, I was all set for a great rack of ribs.

According to the BBQ gurus - the preferred equipment is obviously a dedicated smoker. Next on the list is a charcoal grill, and last on the list is a gas grill (that's what we own). The basic premise for smoking meat is to cook over indirect heat. In order to set up the grill, a few new accessories were needed. I bought some hickory wood chips, a small cast iron smoker box, and some shallow disposable aluminum pans. Instead of buying a fancy rib rack to cook the ribs in, I used the roasting rack from my turkey pan. Turning it upside down worked perfectly.

Next, for the type of ribs. There are many different kinds out there. The most popular summer ribs are typically pork ribs, something we don't cook at home. We set out to find beef ribs and were pleasantly surprised to find them on sale at the regular grocery store. We used 3.5 racks, each with 4-5 ribs per rack. They were split into half racks (there are 7 half-racks in the photo above). Note - these are not short ribs.

There are quite a few different opinions on the way to prepare ribs for cooking. Some profess that the only way to go is with sauce, some swear by a combination of a rub and a mop sauce. I decided to stick with a dry rub and let everyone decide if they wanted to add sauce.

On one of my frequent trips to Whole Foods, I picked up a summer recipe booklet along with my usual free samples. There was a recipe for "Chef Lou Lambert's Famous Coffee Dry Rub". It's written up as a rub for smoked brisket, but sounded so good that I had to try it. A few notes - this made more than enough for the ribs we made. We have plenty of rub leftover to add to other dishes. I added it to some burgers tonight and they turned out great.

Without further delay - the rub recipe and cooking instructions:

Coffee Dry Rub (courtesy of Whole Foods Fire Up the Grill flyer)
2 cups light brown sugar (I used dark brown, it's all we had)
1 cup chili powder
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup medium ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely ground dark roast coffee

Dump all ingredients in a medium bowl
Stir to combine well
Rub over all surfaces of the ribs and place ribs in a large disposable aluminum pan
Refrigerate for up to 24 hours (I only put them in the fridge for about an hour)

Cooking Instructions
Soak a few handfuls of wood chips in water for 15 minutes or more
Open up the grill and remove the grill grate
Place the smoker box over the burner you plan to turn on for cooking
Place two shallow aluminum trays over the burner(s) that you do not plan to turn on and fill them with water
Replace the grill grate on the top
Light the grill and turn all the burners to high
Close the lid and wait for about 10-15 minutes or until a lot of smoke is visible from the grill
Turn off all the burners except the one under the wood chips - turning that to medium (about 275-300 degrees)
Open the grill and place the roasting rack on the grate over the pans of water
Place the ribs into the rack
Close the lid and let cook for 2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure nothing is on fire

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees
Turn off the burners on the grill and remove the ribs (still on the roasting rack) and place into the roasting pan
Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan
Cover tightly with aluminum foil and cook for about 1.5 - 2 hours or until tender
Transfer to a serving platter, tent with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

I served them with homemade barbecue sauce, recipe previously posted. I used maple syrup (not honey) and threw in a roasted jalapeno for some heat. The ribs were really tasty as is, so hardly any sauce was used.

Sadly, we didn't have any leftovers of this for the next day. Guess I'll have to fire up the grill again soon!

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