Hubby’s been anxious to get outside and grill. I can tell because he lingers at the meat counter, inspecting the thick boneless country ribs, tri-tip and baby-back ribs. In my opinion, it’s still too early to think backyard barbecue. The weather is too unpredictable. Rain in the forecast that never materializes or the promise of warm afternoons that turn out to be cold. It’s nearly impossible to plan ahead and shop accordingly. On cold, dreary days we stick close to home. When the sun does break through, it’s out and about, with little time for backyard cooking unless it’s quick – like burgers and dogs. If grilling requires attention, such as a good smoke, that’s reserved for summertime when you aren’t heading up to the hills to escape “cabin fever”. Still, we are thinking ahead and wetting the appetite for that great grilling season that will soon be upon us.
Have you ever watched any of the Grill Master cooking shows? Now those people have patience – rubbing for days, smoking for days – slow cooking as a fine art. But then, these people compete. Hubby is my Master Chef on our backyard grill. He’s a great amateur cook and that’s just fine. After all, I’m no professional chef. Neither of us have any training beyond trial and error. We know what we like, and that’s fine by us. It’s one thing to work in the industry, it’s a whole different world that requires skills, speed and refined technique that isn’t part of the home cook’s bag of tricks. Don’t get me wrong – I love learning new ways to do things. New recipes, new approaches – it’s all great. I just don’t have the desire to make a career out of cooking – at least not now. My hat is off to those who are that brave – earning a living while doing something you feel passionate about is awesome.
Wow, not sure where I wandered off to . . . back to the recipe at hand. When we make Country Ribs with Golden Eagle Barbecue Sauce, it’s a two-step cooking process. I slow cook the ribs in the oven until super tender, then finish them off on the grill. For smoked ribs, it’s the same approach only in reverse. The ribs are seared, slow smoked and finished in the oven. This technique may be completely wrong. All I know is that the ribs are wonderful and we love them.
Smoked Baby-Back Pork Ribs with a Spicy Dry-Rub
3 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons salt
1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
1 Teaspoon Ancho Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Chipotle Spice
1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Powder
2 Teaspoons Mustard Powder
2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
3-4 lbs Baby-Back Pork Ribs
Day Before: Mix ingredients for dry rub, set aside. Trim excess fat from ribs and remove thin layer of skin (that silver membrane) from the back of the ribs. Lightly brush meat with a little olive oil (this helps rub “cling” to meat). Generously coat meat with rub, then rub into meat. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for several hours or over night for best flavor.
Day Of: Soak about 4-6 cups of wood chips for about an hour in water. This will create a nice slow smoke for the barbecue. While wood is soaking, remove ribs from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.
Fill chimney with charcoal, mixing a little dry wood chips into the coals. When chimney is ready, build an indirect fire to one side of the grill. Drain wood chips. Place about 2 cups of chips on a piece of foil large enough to make a well-sealed packet. Cut a few slits into the packet to allow smoke to escape. Make a second packet with remaining wood chips. Set aside until ready to use.
Make sure the grill grate is clean and lightly oiled. Place 1 packet of chips on top of coals. Close lid, allow grill to get nice and hot and the smoke to begin to build. (Make sure vents are open so the fire can breath).
Place ribs on rack over hot coals to sear outside, about 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer to opposite side of grill for indirect cooking. Close lid, adjust vents so that the rich smoke circulates and let the ribs smoke for about an hour or so, check periodically to make sure grill continues to smoke. Remove ribs from rack, remove rack and wood chip packet. If necessary, add a little more coal to the fire. Place second packet on coals, return rack and ribs. Continue to smoke for an additional hour.
Heat oven to about 325-degrees. Remove ribs from grill. Place on a rack over a shallow pan of water (if desires, a splash of liquid smoke may be added to the water for extra flavor). Seal well with foil and place into the oven to “steam” tender for about 20 more minutes.
For some down-home country eating, serve with fried taters and grilled corn on the cob or good ol’ Texas beans. Ribs also go well with Southern Style Cornbread.