There are 100’s of ways to make ribs. This is my recipe, my rub, and my process. If you follow these steps, you should have a pretty fine slab or 5 when you are done. I’ll go through the steps I take here. For the record, I lost count of how many slabs of ribs I have prepared for others. When we crank up the smokers at church, we usually cook a hundred at a time. (Note: That photo is not from my backyard)
FIRE 🔥 SMOKE ❤️ LOVE
Getting started down the path to making great ribs, does not mean you need to invest in a lot of expensive equipment. The photos shown in this step-by-step, are on my 18.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain. I can make ribs on a $100 Weber Kettle. The principles are the same. You just have to be careful with the heat. I cook at around 225°-230°.
3, 2, 1 GO!
As I said before, there are hundreds of ways to cook ribs. I am using what is called the 3, 2, 1 method. 3 hours on smoke, 2 hours wrapped, 1 last hour after applying sauce and rub. NOTE: I will add a little apple or orange juice when I wrap them the first time. This basically allows them to braise. Let me tell you this, these will be the most tender ribs you have ever had!
Wet or dry? How about in between?
I call this the “Memphis Muddy” method. After your ribs have been wrapped for a couple of hours, I open them up and add a little of my favorite sauce and a stripe of local honey right down the middle. Then I give them another hour.
Let's get cookin'
The first thing I do when begin this process, is to remove the membrane (called the peritoneum) from the back of the ribs. This membrane with not hold seasoning of smoke very well. Here’s a link to instructions on how to do this. I simply use a butter knife to get is started and I pull it off with a paper towel. (Removing the membrane from weber.com)
Add the rub - Or not
Once the membrane is removed, I add my rub from a shaker, on both sides. If you want a true dry style rib, just hit them with a little kosher salt and add the rub after you smoke them. I like to get the rub on the ribs the night before, but I’ve done it both ways. For the record, that’s actually a batch of rub for a 95 slab cook we were doing the next day. You probably won’t need that much!
Make that fire!
I load a little over half a bag of charcoal into the ring in the bottom of the smoker. I create a dip in the middle, and toss in 3/4 chimney full of fully lit charcoal. This is called the “Minion” method and it allows your charcoal to ignite all the way through the cook. I set the top vent wide open and all three of the bottom vents are set at about 1/3 open. Your mileage may very but this works for me every single time.
water pan? No water pan?
Did you notice the shiny foil in this picture? People ask me all the time, “Why do you use a water pan when you are smoking ribs? Aren’t they supposed to be dry? There isn’t a wrong answer, really. I do it this way to keep my temps stable. Use it, don’t use it, see which way you like them better.
The top Shelf
The picture above is the bottom shelf an this is the top. You may need to trim the ribs a bit to fit on a smaller smoker or grill. And that’s just fine. Here I sort of curved them in to fit. I have also wrapped the ribs into a sort of cone and used a bamboo skewer to hold them together. Whatever peels your banana. Just get ’em on there!
Not my prettiest batch but certainly not the ugliest! The bottom line is this, you make your ribs how ever you like, wet, dry, muddy, Asian, Korean, or any other flavor you like. The most important thing, is that you make them!