Gettin’ messy Smoked BBQ Ribs

I first learned about eating ribs when I was young. I am not sure how little I was but we were out at a nice restaurant and my daddy let me order whatever I wanted. I chose ribs. He gave me a questioning look and asked if that’s really what I wanted and it was.
Before I knew it I was up to my elbows in stick to your ribs sauce and giving the environment a run for the money as I made my way through a mountain of paper towels.
Now I know that ribs are the kind of food you either own or eat in the comfort of your own home – Behind closed doors with the curtains drawn so no one can see you gnawing on that bone. Or on a first date. (I believe it’s a good test of character to see if someone is willing to get dirty or not right from the get go).


If your going to go for the ribs, don’t bother with a knife and fork. Pick it up and own it. Worry about the mess later.

**We used a BBQ sauce by one of Handsome’s professors. Check out Antie Lou’s sauce here.

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  1. says

    RIBS are so delish! I hate when they are too dry or don’t have enough sauce and these looks awesome and are making my mouth water :-)

  2. Dr. Rib Meister says

    You neglected to indicate what type of wood chips you used or recommend using for your beef ribs. Hickory or oak may be a popular option for beef. For pork ribs I prefer to use cherry or apple wood.

    Also, your smoking method is backwards. How is the smoke supposed to penetrate the ribs during the first 2 hours if they are wrapped in foil? The ribs can only benefit from smoke during the first 2 to 3 hours of cooking, and the fact that your picrures reveal no visible smoke ring on the meat evidences the fact they were not smoked correctly.

    The correct method is actually to smoke the ribs unwrapped during the first 2 hours, then wrap them in foil for the second 2 hours during which no additional wood chips are necessary as it would be wasted smoking the foil and not the ribs. Remove the ribs from the foil and baste them with bbq sauce only during the final 15 minutes of cooking. BBQ sauce has a high sugar content, so saucing the ribs for 2 hours is why your ribs are all blackened – the sugar in the bbq sauce has burned. This is not the flavor you want. You want smoky tasting ribs, not burned tasting ribs. Try my method and experience the much improved flavor for yourself.

    @Mary at n00bcakes: Solution sans smoker – a) For charcoal grill set up coals for indirect cooking by piling them up on opposite sides of the kettle, leaving the center devoid of coals, and place ribs over that center spot. Put wood chips directly on coals and cover the kettle with vents open midway. Consider placing an aluminum drip pan beneath ribs filled with hot water( or beer). This will not only catch drippings, but steam rising from it will keep ribs moist (and add flavor, in the case of beer). b) For propane grill turn two outside burners on to medium-low, leave center burner unlit and place ribs over unlit center burner. Fashion a small rectangular packet for the wood chips from aluminum foil and poke holes in the top of the packet to allow the smoke to escape. Lay that packet under the grill grate over the heating element of the ignited side burner which is opposite the upper bbq vent (such that the smoke must travel up and over the ribs to escape through the vent on the other side – e.g., if your top vent is on the right side, place the packet over the left side burner). Cook with cover on and vent opened midway. In both scenarios a&b you should use a thermometer positioned on mid-grill where ribs are to monitor temps and adjust heat as necessary to maintain 225-235 degrees.

    • Kita says

      @ribmeister Thanks for the advice, and generally, I agree with you and wrapping those babies in aluminum foil seemed odd to me. However, I followed the recommendation of some other posts I had read and tried it anyway. They were quite the tasty ribs – no burnt flavor at all. There is lots more smoking to be done in this backyard, so there will be ribs freed of any aluminum constraint – I promise.

  3. Dr. Rib Meister says

    @Kita: Well there has always been the old “foil vs. no foil” debate, but I have never heard of anyone suggesting foil-wrapping during the first couple of hours. That is definitely some odd advice you received there, and it really threw me for a loop because it would seem to defeat the purpose of the smoke. That being said, you did get a lot of things right – Removing the membrane, using a dry rub on the ribs overnight, soaking the wood chips, smoking at 225 degrees, etc. All very good advice.

    On the foil debate, the purists will tell you that no foil should ever be used, but this will extend your cook time up to between 6 and 8 hours, or longer. Foiling the ribs during the final hours of the cook helps cut down the cook time to ~4 hours because it causes the ribs to steam inside the foil which breaks down the collagens and tenderizes the meat quicker. This gives you “falling off the bone ribs” which many people enjoy, but purists decry. Basically, the foil method gives you a moister melt-in-your mouth rib while the no foil method gives you a dryer more al dente rib with a crustier bark. It’s just a texture thing, so I say ignore the debate and just do it whichever way you most enjoy.

    Anyway, I applaud your experimentation and hope that I’ve helped point you in the right direction. May your next slab be a resounding success. You’ll know you’ve smoked it right when you find the rib meat has turned pinkish just beneath the surface crust (the “bark”) up to about 1/4 inch. This is known as the coveted “smoke ring,” and it’s not to be mistaken as a sign that the meat is undercooked (neophytes to the process have been known to become alarmed at the sight of a pinkish pork rib). It is actually indicative of the chemical reaction which results from the smoke permeating the meat, imparting its heavenly smoky flavors.

    • Kita says

      The smoker is still a relatively new item in my collection, but now that the weather has broken I hope to use it weekly. Beef ribs will fall back into the rotation shortly and I will try ur method.:) In the meantime, I’m hoping to smoke some sausage and jerky this week if u have any advice.

  4. Dr. Rib Meister says

    Hi Kita. I’m afraid my smoking experience is limited to the usual suspects like ribs, chicken, brisket and pork butts, so I have no advice for you on sausage or jerky. I look forward to your posts on these and I’m sure you will teach me a thing or two about them that I can try!


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