Olson 22.5 Baby Back Smoked Ribs 

There are more rib recipes than pigs in the midwest, and if you’ve looked for recipes before, then you know there is a common 3-2-1 method out there.I find the 3-2-1 a bit much for Baby Back Ribs, so after years of experimentation, this is my favorite recipe, perhaps variation on the 3-2-1. It’s more like 2-2-.5 and has some flavor tweaks.

Wine Parings:

Ribs with a sweeter sauce pair well with off-dry wines—try Mumm Napa Cuvée M, which has an earthy scent that leads to ripe white peach flavors. Perfect for balancing a well-sauced rib.

 

For dry-rubbed ribs, a red lambrusco is ideal. The dry, earthy flavors of fresh black cherries and herbs pick up on the spices in the rub, and the delicate bubbles keep everything clean and easy-drinking.

 

Any lighter wine on the fruitier side, but not too sweet will work. Too heavy of a red will mask the hours of slow cooked flavor.

 

Beer Pairings:

If available, I like Octoberfest beers with ribs. Also a marzen style works. Hell, your ribs are probably so good, a damn PBR will pair well.

 

Here’s the non food items you need:

 

1 plastic spray bottle (food safe)

1 smoker, or charcoal grill setup for smoking, set to a constant 225 degree heat.

Tin foil

3 handfuls smoking wood. I prefer apple and cherry. Hickory is also good, but can be over powering.

 

Here’s the food ingredients you need:

 

1 32oz bottle of apple juice

½ cup of apple cider vinegar (I like Bragg’s)

1 cup of cooking oil, anything lite will do, I use canola

½ cup Captain Morgan Run

 

Baby back ribs 2-4 slabs

 

Yellow mustard

BBQ sauce of your choice.  I use a half and half of Sweet Baby Rays and Open Pit.

 

Rub ingredients: Use mine, outlined below, or use your favorite. I like using my own, so I know exactly what is in it, and can tweak it to my tastes.

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon paprika (smoked or hot, whatever you have on hand)

1 tablespoon granulated garlic (or powder, granulated holds up better for rubs)

1 tablespoon granulated onion (or powder, granulated holds up better for rubs)

1 tablespoon chili powder

3 tablespoon lite brown sugar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more if you enjoy heat

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon white pepper

3 tablespoon Ancho chili powder (there is no heat in this chili powder)

1 table spoon ground ginger

dash of coriander

 

You can eyeball all of this, it will keep for 6 months in an airtight container, and will start to lose potency after 4 months.

 

A word on the hidden gem that is ANCHO CHILI POWDER. I use it in everything. I rarely can find it in grocery stores, but you can find it on the web here. It’s basically a smoked poblano pepper that has been dried and ground. It has a great raisin like taste, very mild, no heat, but has changed most of my recipes for the better. The best chefs in the world are using a ton of it, and probably not telling you. If you ever thank me for anything, it will be for introducing you to Ancho Chili Powder.

 

LET US BEGIN.

Prep work: 30 minutes  Smoking/grill time from setup to table: 6 hours.

  • The night before you smoke the ribs, do 2 things, soak your wood chips in water, and prep the meat.

Meat Prep:

  • Assemble the rub in a jar and shake. Break up and clumps with a fork.

  • Remove the membrane from the underside of the ribs. Some butchers remove it for you. It is a pain in the ass, WEBSITE LINK

  • Squirt yellow mustard on the top of the ribs, just enough to get a thin coating. This will not effect the taste, so don’t worry about it if you are not a fan of mustard, it is merely a “glue” for the rub to stick to.

  • Shake about 2 or 3 tablespoons of rub per slab over the mustard coating. Make sure there is a nice layer over the entire slab. Some people do the bottom of the ribs too. I don’t, it think it over powers baby backs. Let the meat do the talking and leave the bottom to soak up that smoke. You will have some rub leftover depending on the amount of ribs you are cooking.

  • Cover the ribs in a shallow pan and cover with foil over night.

 

The Next day:

7. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before you are going to start smoking them. Place on the counter and let them warm to room temperature by cooking time.

 

Get your smoker going! I find it takes about 30 minutes for mine to start producing smoke. Your ribs will take in the most smoke during the first hour, so make sure that sucker is producing smoke before you throw them on.

  • in your liquid tray for your smoker, pour the whole bottle of apple juice in, and fill the rest with water or beer or anything else.

  • Get the wood on. I’m assuming you’ve used your smoker before, so I wont go into detail there, just make sure you are operating around 225 degrees.

  • Put your ribs on. Face up.

  • Ground 1 pinecone and sprinkle over ribs. Just kidding.

Assemble your Spritz:

10. Pour 1 tablespoon of remaining rub, 1 cup oil, ½ cup rum, ½ cup apple cider vinegar into the spray bottle. Shake well.

11. After the initial 30 minutes of smoking, shake the spritz and spray over the surface of the ribs, just moistening them. Don’t douse them. This step makes a nice crust and smoke ring on your ribs.

12. repeat the above step every 30 minutes for 2 hours.

13. After 2 hours you remove the ribs and quickly double wrap them in heavy duty foil.. just before you seal them off, spray them down with the rib spritz and close the foil leaving some room around the ribs for the steam to be able to flow around the meat and do it's magic.

14. The ribs cook in the smoker wrapped for 2 hours undisturbed, or, throw them in the oven for the 2 hours. You are done smoking. You are basically steaming them now, which will make them tender and awesome.

15. After 2 hours, fire up your grill. I prefer charcoal, but gas will work.

16. remove foiled ribs from the smoker/oven. Unwrap your ribs from the foil. The meat at this point should be about a ¼ up from the ends of the bones. Retain about ½ cup of the drippings from the foil.

 

17. get your barbeque sauce ready. You could skip this step. Cooking is made for you to personalize. If you like a bunch of sauce, great. If you want a more Memphis style dry rib, skip. I personally like a very light coating of sauce at the end that isn’t very sweet.  Take a cup of sauce and add the ½ cup of drippings, mix well.

 

18. Throw the ribs on the grill. For about 5-15 minutes to give a quick char and brush sauce intermittently, flipping back an forth, to your degree of char and/or carmelization. Don’t burn the damn sauce. I personally don’t like very sweet sauces, and the sugar in them can burn during this step, which would suck. That’s why I cut a sugary sauce (like sweet baby rays) with a sharper vinegary sauce like Open Pit.

 

19. SERVE!!!!

 

A few notes.

  • I’ve cooked these ribs many times. Sometimes they are falling off the bone, sometimes (my favorite) they have a bit of resistance, but yet tender when you bite into them. I really think some of that depends on where the ribs come from, and varies from time to time. If you really like falling off the bone, keep them in the foil for 30 minutes longer, but it will be harder to grill them if you go too far.

  • You can also (instead of firing up a grill for the end) put them back on the smoker unfoiled for and hour and apply sauce. I personally like a bit of char on mine, and the added flavor of charcoal.

  • The Captain Morgan part of this can be changed, I think it bring a nice sweet, slightly caramel rum flavor, but you could substitute your favor beer or whiskey instead.

  • The heart of cooking is experimentation. I encourage everyone to play around with this and try new things. Using a smoker alone opens up a great variety of flavor profiles and methods. Have fun, and cook for people and with people.

 

Wine Parings:

Ribs with a sweeter sauce pair well with off-dry wines—try Mumm Napa Cuvée M, which has an earthy scent that leads to ripe white peach flavors. Perfect for balancing a well-sauced rib.

 

For dry-rubbed ribs, a red lambrusco is ideal. The dry, earthy flavors of fresh black cherries and herbs pick up on the spices in the rub, and the delicate bubbles keep everything clean and easy-drinking.

 

Any lighter wine on the fruitier side, but not too sweet will work. Too heavy of a red will mask the hours of slow cooked flavor.

 

 

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