½cupBBQ Sauceabout ½ per rack, Use your favorite or get a recipe HERE.
#1 Prep the Ribs
Rinse the racks of ribs under cold running water and blot dry with paper towels.
Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. The membrane is a thin, white looking skin on the back of each rack of ribs. This membrane can block out the flavor, because it creates a barrier against the seasoning.
To remove the membrane, lay the ribs onto a flat surface so that the curve of the ribs point up at you. Using a sharp knife, peel the membrane from one corner near the bone. Pull across the rack with firm steady pressure. If it tears, just pull up and continue where it tore off. Rinse and pat the ribs dry again.
Combine all the ingredients for the rub in a small bowl (make sure to work out any clumps from the brown sugar for even distribution); stir to mix. Rub the seasonings onto both sides of the racks. (see notes)
#2 Prepare the Charcoal Grill For Smoking
Smoking is a form of indirect cooking and usually takes place over a period of hours over low temperatures.
Preheat the grill to about 200 to 250 degrees F max. To maintain this low temperature, begin by lighting only about 10 to 16 pieces of charcoal and set up the grill for an indirect Three-Zone Split-Fire. To do this separate the coals into two equal piles on opposite sides of the grill grate. (see notes)
#3 Smoking the ribs
When the smoker or grill is the ideal temperature range, you are ready to smoke, place the ribs into the grilling rack over indirect heat; toss a chunk of hickory wood on top of each basket of hot charcoal, and cover the grill.
The temperature of the kettle needs to be around 250 degrees F. This is done by controlling the top and bottom vents of the grill to restrict the flow of oxygen. To start out, move the bottom vent, so it is half closed and close the top vent almost all of the way.
Bring the temperature up to 250 degrees F, using the vents on the grill to regulate the temperature. The vents control the amount of oxygen getting to the fire. So less air means less fire.
You will need to add fresh coals and possibly more wood chunks to each side of the grill every hour for at least the first 3 hours.
#4 Low and slow
Check the temperature of the grill every hour, staying as close to 250 degrees F as possible. It’s important to resist the temptation to open the lid. Only open the lid of the grill if you need to add more charcoal and wood to maintain temperature and smoke.
After 3 hours, check the temperature of the meat to see where it is and get an idea of how much more time it will need to smoke.
#5 Test For Doneness
The goal temperature of smoked baby back ribs is an internal temperature of 190 degrees F. Use an instant-read thermometer, such as the Thermapen by Thermoworks to take the temperature of the ribs. Be careful not to take the reading from the bone.
#6 Saucing the Baby Back Ribs
Saucing should be done prior to removing the ribs after the meat is done. David says if you do a 5-hour smoke the 6th hour is for saucing over a low temperature.
Warm the barbecue sauce up before applying to the ribs.
Meanwhile, take the racks of ribs out of the rack, spread out the coals. Lay the ribs flat on the grill grate.
Use a grilling brush or mop to slather the meat side of the ribs with sauce. Close the lid and let the sauce cook onto the meat for about 15 minutes. Then flip the racks over and brush sauce onto the back of the ribs. Close the lid and continue to cook. Repeat this process as many times as you want according to how saucy you want the ribs to be. (see notes)
At the end of these six steps if you break into a rack of ribs and notice a thin pink layer just beneath the surface of the meat. Congratulations! That is the highly prized smoke ring. It’s kind of like a pink halo around the meat; a sign of mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful smoked baby back ribs!
Break out a roll of paper towels; it’s time to chow down!
Wood Chips vs. Chunks: If you are using hickory wood chips, soak a few handfuls for about 30 minutes in water before placing atop the coals. This will keep them from burning up too fast and will provide more smoke.Rubbing The Ribs:David usually rubs his just before setting up the grill. However, If you have time, wrap the racks in plastic wrap and let it cure in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight. Smoking the ribs right away is perfectly fine, but sitting in the refrigerator for several hours allows the rub to penetrate the meat a little more.Charcoal baskets are great for holding the clusters of charcoal together. The baskets also help them burn longer.Probe Thermometer: Knowing the temperature inside your smoker or grill is crucial. Even if your smoker or grill has a temperature gauge, we still highly recommend that you purchase a digital BBQ thermometer such as Smoke™ from Thermoworks. Thermoworks thermometers are some of the most accurate thermometers money can buy. This particular model was designed for competition BBQ teams and professional chefs. It has a two-channel alarm that uses probes to accurately read the temperature of the meat and the pit.Doneness: David says if you smoke ribs enough, you just kind of know, but it takes some practice. “Smoke the ribs until a dark ‘bark’ (outside crust) forms, the meat starts to draw away from the bone and the temperature of the smoker has remained constant for about 5 sometimes 6 hours.” You can also crack them to test for doneness. To do this: using a pair of tongs, pick up a slab of ribs; bounce the ribs slightly. They are ready when the slab bows over until the meat starts to crack on the surface. A small crack typically means you need just a little more time. The ribs should almost break when you lift the slab.Saucing Ribs: Don’t go overboard. Remember most of the flavor is in the meat. You don’t want to over sauce so that it masks the flavor of good smoked baby back ribs. 2 to 3 times in an hour is a gracious plenty.
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