Ribs, everybody wants to make some and a lot of people are not sure how.  Well like most meat low and slow will give you a juicy and fall off the bone tender result.  But with ribs there is something special that needs to happen.  I like typically like to stick with larger cuts of meat but no man could claim to be even a novice of the BBQ without having ribs tucked away firmly in his belt.

Rack of ribs

Like most chunks of meat I smoke the ribs started out the night before with a trimming, which I historically do a less than professional job at.  From there I wash the ribs and pat them dry with paper towels and then rub them.  Typically rubbing is a two part process.  The first is to coat them in mustard or some other liquid to help the rub stick and the second is the rub them with your rub.  How much is up to you, ribs have a delicacy to them that is easily over powered with too much rub.  Once this is all done is into the fridge in a sealed container to think about what they have done.

Freshly rubbed spare ribs

The meat (ribs) in the picture above were rubbed with two different rubs.  After a nights worth of sitting in the rub or a couple hours if that is all that is available I get the smoker ready.  I boil some water in my kettle for my water pan to speed up the preheating process and get my wood for the day ready.  Once the smoker has reached that magical temperature of 225°F it is ready for some meat.  So I lube my grate with some oil, its a habit and then throw the meat on and let the smoke start rolling.

Ribs just on the smoker

When smoking ribs I use the 3-2-1 Rib method, which is not my invention but seems to work quite well and is easy to remember.  The first stage is to smoke the ribs for about 3 hours.  The time is not nearly as important as is the appearance at this point.  Once the meat begins to pull away from the bone and has pulled back about a 1/4 inch it is time to move onto step two.

Ribs at the end of stage 3

Once your ribs are looking like these it is time to move on to step two.  Stage two is kinda hard to swallow at first, I mean I just wanna continue to flood my ribs with smokey flavor but its time to pull back for a few.  In stage two its all about time, take the ribs off the smoker and wrap them in foil with a little apple juice.  I am not sure how much apple juice I use it depends on the meat and what looks good.  You could certainly substitute some other liquid here the goal is just to provide the ribs with some moisture while they are in the foil.  Throw the ribs wrapped in foil back on the smoker for two hours and let the magic happen.  During this time the ribs are soaking up the juice and getting their fall of the bone tender status.  There is no need to supply smoke during this period.

Ribs after stage 2

After two house in stage two remove the ribs from the foil and place them back on the smoker grate and get the smoke rolling again.  It might be time to check that water pan too.  The ribs should look like those above at this point, shrinkage has occurred and they looking kinda mushy.  That is where the final stage of the 3-2-1 method comes in smoke them until they reach 172°F in the thickest part of the meat.  This should take an 45 minutes to an hour.  If you would like to add BBQ sauce during the last 15 minutes on the smoker is the time to do this.

Ribs cooked to perfection

Once the ribs are done pull them off the smoker and let them rest for 15 minutes on the counter.  During this time the juices will redistribute and you will be glad you waited.  Serve and enjoy.

The 3-2-1 method assumes you are dealing with spare ribs.  If you find yourself with baby back ribs you will be looking at something more like the 2-2-1 method, just be sure to be more attentive to the meat an hour earlier with baby backs.

As with most other pork I prefer to mix apple and hickory for my ribs, gives them an excellent flavor.

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After the catastrophe the first time I tried to make some chicken with this rub, I went for round two yesterday.  With the other smoker full of jerky that was smelling better by the minute we loaded up a second smoker with some chicken thighs rubbed with a Memphis Style BBQ Rub.  But I cheated in the end I ended up basting the meat with a mixture of BBQ sauce, whole grain mustard and water, so I deviated a bit from the traditional Memphis Style.

Memphis BBQ Rub Chicken

The rub however, was the important part and it was a pretty traditional style paprika based rub, all but once I forgot it was on there it married with the meat so well, but I must have had an abnormally heavy section of rub under the skin that gave me a faint paprika taste in my mouth. So here is the recipe for the rub.

1/4 c paprika
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

Blend all ingredients thoroughly and rub generously onto chicken both under and over skin.

Once the chicken was rubbed I plopped it on the smoker at 250°F for about 2 hours over hickory and apple wood until it was cook through.  I basted the meat once which I think was unnecessary.   Usually I brine my poultry but I did not this time mostly due to oversight on my part, in spite of this it still turned out juicy and fell apart.

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Was it beef or was it venison?  I don’t know but it was good.  Some people said it was venison and some beef, and I have to tell you sometimes I wanted it to be venison and sometimes I wanted it to be beef, but it was not labeled and for the life of me I cannot remember whether those were venison or beef steaks I cut up to make jerky.  But whatever they were they got me hooked, jerky is going to be an fascination until I can get it just right, every time in whatever flavor I want.  So there will be more jerky posts, probably even some this weekend.

I started out by cutting my steaks up into about quarter inch this pieces of meat at a 30° angle across the grain of the meat.  This was fairly easy to do and using a larger than necessary knife made it even simpler.

Jerky Rub Ingredients

Once the meat was cut I mixed together a rub as follows.

1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c kosher salt
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground ginger

Blend together all ingredients in a small bowl being sure to get any clumps out of the brown sugar.

Once the rub was mixed together I then rubbed the rub into the meat, this amount of rub is good for about 1 1/2 pounds of meat.

Jerky on the Smoker

I then placed it on the smoker with NO water in the water pan at 155°F for 5 hours over a blend of hickory and mesquite using my PID controlled electric smoker.  Using the propane would have probably been too moist to get good jerky and the charcoal might have been a little tricky to maintain that temperature for such a long period of time.  The electric with the PID controller is just easy.   At this point it was still a little moist in the middle but chewy and very jerky like, it was really good.

Mystery Meat Jerky

Even as mystery meat the reviews have been good, people have liked it, most importantly I liked it so I will be making more jerky and posting about it as I learn new things.

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Well the day finally came, the ribs were rubbed last night and it was cooking time today.   Because I am either proud or crazy or both, I opted not to borrow either of the smokers available to me and smoked (cooked) these ribs on my Weber Charcoal grill.  This was quite a task.  It was rather windy here and I had no idea holding a temperature at 230°F would be such a chore, but hey they are cooked and they were tasty.  But the real question which of the two rubs won? And why is there a piece of chicken in the picture?

Some delicious ribs all cooked up and ready to devour
Some delicious ribs all cooked up and ready to devour

Well let me answer the chicken question first.  I wanted to see how a BBQ rub stacked up on chicken and I must say quite well it was delicious and like the ribs surprisingly juicy after such a long cooking time.  So which rub won?  Well I will be using them both again but for different reasons.  The Butt Rub was in my opinion the best tasting rub, it was spicy and seemed to absorb the smoke ALOT better than the BBQ 3000, it also colored nicely.  The BBQ 3000 on the other hand was delicious, it also colored nicely, however it did not seem to absorb the smoke nearly as well.  It did however has an incredible sweet taste that almost made up for the lack of spice.

Like I said I will keep both of these rubs in my cupboard and use them both in the future, however, I will be looking forward to using the Butt Rub a wee bit more than the BBQ 3000.

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