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Smoked Baby Back Ribs


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16 cooks into my Akorn, I took a first stab at the "big meats." Putting blind faith in kamadoguru.com, my test run with baby back ribs would be our main source of food for a dinner party. The ribs turned out great - everyone thought they were restaurant quality. One thing I realized about ribs is that they contain the holy trinity of tastes: sweet, salty, and savory. I have no clue what I am doing, so let me know if you have any suggestions!

Prep:

- At my local grocery store (HEB), I purchased 3 2.7 lb baby back ribs.

- make rub

- Before starting coals, I removed the membranes. The first rack didn't have one, but in my lack of experience I tried to remove it for a while. The second and third racks had obvious membranes, which I found easy to remove.
- Patted ribs dry with paper towel and applied rub directly to both sides. No mayo, mustard, or anything like that.
- Cut two of the racks in half. Two halves will go on the top rack, and the one whole and other two halves will go on grill.

Cook:

- Volcano method with Royal Red Lump, started with 1 alcohol-soaked cotton ball.

- 2 chunks hickory + 1 apple placed near hole in volcano (starting light on smoke due to wife sensitivity).

- Smokin Stone diffuser + 13" aluminum drip pan.
- Average temp: 260

- Mopped with "The Jank" BBQ sauce (some random sauce I bought) at 50 minutes and 15 minutes before pulling.
- Pulled ribs at 200 IT.

- On my whole rack, I tried the "bend test" - the meat cracked pretty good, and the meat within was mostly white.

- Cook time: around 5 hours (forgot to stop timer, as usual)

- As far as timing, my original plan was for the ribs to come out around one hour before guests arrive, double wrapping them in foil to keep them warm. Instead, they came out 30 minutes after guests arrived, which was perfect. I mis-estimated my cook time, using example times for a higher temp.
- Cut individual ribs out on cutting board.

Learnings:

- On the long rack, the ribs on each end were tough and dry. I believe that this was caused by direct exposure to coals. I did notice a lot of pork smoke, as well - not sure if this is normal, or a sign that lots of drippings were missing my pan.  I will buy a rib rack, cut the racks in half, and attempt to keep all of them toward the center.
- A few of the first drippings burned on the drip pan, before the pan filled up with juices - will create spacers for next time to minimize this.

- Only 1.5 of 3 wood chunks ignited, since the first went in a direction I didn't expect. I had placed the chunks in a tight circle around my volcano, which was near the location of the bottom vent. The fire moved up against the vent, then headed across the front side.The smoke tasted good, and I could tell that it would have been even better if all 3 chunks had been engaged.
- 260 average temp is lower than necessary, based on what I read here. Will shoot for 275-300 next time.

- After stabilizing at 260 and adding the ribs, the temp shot up to 300 due to leaving it open for so long. I panicked and choked up on the top vent, which put the fire out. I blew a little into the bottom vent and got her going again. Watching the temp shoot up the other times after opening the lid, I noticed that minutes later it would fall back to the original temperature (although slightly higher, usually).

- Opening the lid to baste seems to lengthen the cook time. The IT goes from steadily rising to dropping a little and stalling for a while.

- I will definitely buy some high-temp gloves that you can handle meat with. Mine are leather and not good for grabbing ribs.
- I will also buy a rub shaker. Was using an empty spice shaker, but it is too small, so I have to refill it several times, which is a pain with one clean hand.

- I think I prefer Fogo Black to Royal Red. Fogo Black smells better, and seems to respond more gently to vent changes. Royal Red is less dense than Fogo Black and seems cheaper.

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Ribs look great. Your right about the ends hanging over the diffuser plate and getting crispy, also make sure the plate are together and no air gap,  i cut the last rib or 2 off the short end and use that as a reward for the grill tender. As far as time goes we can only guess the ribs are in control for when there done. Keep up the good cooking.

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Everyone's tastes are different. 95% of the time I omit the sweet from my ribs. So go with what pleases you in the long run. That's what keeps me going in my love affair with BBQ. Doing what I like, they way I like until it meets my standards and then sticking with it...

 

Ribs look great... and way to rub in that whole HEB thing... :-D

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  • 5 months later...

Good Job! Nice leap of faith to do a new cook for guests! 

On 6/17/2020 at 1:34 PM, len440 said:

i cut the last rib or 2 off the short end and use that as a reward for the grill tender.

That is your pro tip right there! 

 

On 6/19/2020 at 7:02 PM, CentralTexBBQ said:

Ribs look great... and way to rub in that whole HEB thing... :-D

Yah, we have Rouses.

I would trade if only for the Warden who thinks she's a Texan! 

Akorns really respond quickly, try closing the bottom vent before opening, especially if you know you can put it back where it was. 

Good Luck! 

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