Smoked ribs have become an American Institution just like baseball and the 4th of July. Nothing beats a barbecuing session in your backyard with some friends and family. Good thing, it quite easy to make smoked ribs with or without a smoker. Here is how to smoke ribs to have your guests begging for more.
There are several ways to prepare smoked ribs, and they all need a smoker. You have the option of leaving the ribs open or wrapping them as they cook. It all depends on your preference.
You need to use a rub or a sauce or even opt to leave out the sauce. The smoker is great to cook the ribs because it leaves them tender both on the outside and the inside.
For a crispy exterior, you will just need to finish cooking them over high heat. Whichever method you decide to use, there are standard equipment as well as ingredients you will need.
Here Is What You Will Need
The first thing you will need is a traditional barbecue meat smoker. If you do not have one, you can opt to use a charcoal grill, gas grill or the oven in your kitchen.
If you are using the smoker, you have to make sure that you have a lot of fuel because this is going to be a long cooking process. You will need to have your charcoal and even wood chunks in place that will help you control the level of heat.
A meat thermometer will also come in handy as well as a heavy duty aluminum foil and a large knife as well.
You will, of course, need a rack of ribs, the rib rub and not forgetting the barbecue sauce that is if you intend to have barbecue sauce on your ribs.
Prepping the Smoker
Before you put your ribs on the smoker, you have to prepare the smoker for several hours before time. To make sure that it has the right temperature. Prep the smoker 6 hours before cooking to the temperature of around 220 F.
You will also want the smoker to have strong smoke when you start cooking as well as the end of your cooking. To have smoke from the smoker, you will need to add wood chunks to the fire before you place the ribs on the smoker.
When you have the fire going, you will need to adjust the smoker to the right temperature. When you do this, it is now time to start prepping the ribs.
Prepping the Ribs
It is very crucial to have the right rack of ribs. When you get your ribs, you need to look go a full rack that is even throughout in thickness.
If you get a rack that is thick on one side and thin on the other, it will not cook evenly. Due to the nature of the ribs, you will obviously not get a rack that is even on both sides. All you need to do is look for a rack that is not too lopsided.
When you get the ribs home, you will have to work on them a little. The first thing you need to do is trim the ribs. This means that you cut away any loose pieces of meat because they will dry out while cooking.
When trimming you need to remove the membrane as well. This is the most important part of trimming because it ensures that the meat will cook evenly.
The membrane is the layer of skin on the bone sided part of the rack. The membrane is a sturdy material that if left on will block the smoke from reaching the meat. Also when cooked in low temperature it will be tough and distract the eating process.
After that, you will need to apply the rub. The rub is the source of flavor for the ribs. You will need to use the rub just before you put it in the smoker.
The rub is made of a spice mixture will give the ribs the flavor throughout the cooking process. You can choose a sweet rub, a spicy rub or a savory rub; the choice is all yours. It is also important to note that the spicy flavors will mellow during the cooking time so you will need to make your rib extra spicy.
Also, remember not to put the rub too early before placing it on the smoker because it falls off in most cases. After you are done with putting on the rub place it on the smoker.
How Long To Smoke Ribs
The standard time to cook the ribs is anywhere between 7 to 8 hours. You can decide to have the ribs on the smoker without wrapping them for the whole seven hours, but you if you would like to cover them you will need to place them on the smoker for 3 hours unwrapped the wrapped them tightly with the heavy duty foil for 2 hours. Then for the last hour unpack them.
How to Tell Them When The Ribs Are Done
There are several ways in which you can check if the ribs are done. The most common one is to check if the bones are peeking out. If you see about a quarter inch of the bones which is referred to as the pullback along the slab. This is a good indication that the ribs are ready.
A thermometer should ready between 185 and 203 degrees depending on your desired level of tenderness.
Another way to check if your ribs are done is to bend the slab of ribs using a pair of tongs or gloves. Pick the slab and bend it making a U shape. There should be a crack or a separation if the ribs are done.
Another method to use is probing. With this method, the chefs put a skewer between the bones, and if there is minimal resistance and the skewer pulled out cleanly then the ribs are done.
Others use the tasting method to check if the ribs are done.
Making the perfect smoked ribs is an art. If you find that you make some mistakes with your initial trials, then you need to recognize where you made a mistake and improved it the next time you are making your ribs.
The more you practice the better you will be at it. Use the tips above to get the best smoked ribs.