Nothing can compare to a good slab of ribs! I know it’s the first thing I want when the weather warms up, and they have to be done right.
Not in the oven or the slow cooker. Don’t get me wrong, those ways are fine when you want ribs in January and there’s snow on the ground. But as soon as it’s nice enough to get the grill going I’m wanting those juicy, sweet and tangy fall off the bone tender ribs. Sticky fingers, messy face, and bbq sauce to my elbows. I don’t care if I look like a cavewoman, just leave me alone and pass the napkins, because this is my happy place!
Now I grew up eating good ribs. My dad set the standards high way back when I was small, and my birthday is in June so my request was always ribs and he had his own home built, old fashion, brick BBQ pit in our back yard, but he was a tuck pointer so he knew what he was doing. So there was always something good cooking outside on the weekends. No one ever had full kitchen accommodations back then like you see now days. Well we don’t either, but we make do just fine with a good charcoal grill.
There was a fad for a while when people had gas lines run outside for easy grilling, then they came out with propane grills, which I tried for a summer too. Still not the same as lighting a real fire under some ribs, but if that’s what you have we’ve got a trick for you to get some smoked ribs without using liquid smoke. You just need two things; wood chips and heavy duty aluminum foil (You can find the full instructions for this right under the recipe box below!). That’s how the experts smoke ribs. And we would like to think that ours are just as good even though we’ve never entered ours in a contest. We have gone and had what Michael Symon’s called the best ribs in the country, and sorry Mr. Symon, you haven’t had our ribs. We’ve gone to the rib fest in downtown St. Louis. Where all the best competition grillers come to town and still do not think they are as good as ours. Not saying they’re bad, they are good, just not “as good”. But you be the judge and let us know what you think.
Of course you have to start with a good meaty slab of ribs, none of those scrawny looking ribs. It’s gotta be something thick enough to sink your teeth into. We found these Smithfield ribs nice and meaty, they weren’t St. Louis style cut, go figure we’re in St. Louis, but that’s OK we’ll get those next time. These were on sale and they work just fine.
Next thing up a a marinade. I know, I know, everyone is doing dry rubs these days. Well why do just a dry rub when you can get some extra moisture in that meat with a good marinade? I don’t want to bite through a crust of seasonings to get to my happy place. If you want to remove the silver skin, it will peel off with slicing right under the end and lifting. We leave it on, because it kinda helps hold in the moisture.
As far as sauce goes, sometimes I make my own, but I was busy making sides so we used a bottle of Sugarfire St. Louie Sweet BBQ which is probably not available everywhere, but it is awesome and is sold on Amazon. We also like Sweet Baby Rays, but whatever your favorite BBQ sauce is, that is what you should use.
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About the wood chip packet. This is part of the secret to making the perfect ribs. It is all about the smoke, and if you do not have a smoker box, this will help you to get the job done.
When smoking any type of meat, the most important thing is picking the right type of wood chips to use. For ribs, we prefer a mix of oak and mesquite as this combination delivers just the right flavor that we are always looking for. Other types of chips will work as well, pork works very well with almost all types of wood, this is just our preference.
Once you have your chips picked out, you will want to soak about a handful in water for about 30 minutes. This will help to keep them from catching on fire, which is NOT good BBQ.
Making the packet could not be any easier. Pull off about 8-10 inches of foil from a roll.
Place your pre-soaked wood chips in the middle. Fold the two longest edges over to the middle. Then fold up the other 2 sides to make a nice and neat little square with the wood chips inside.
Poke a few holes into the top so the smoke can get out, and you are ready to go.
One thing of note here. If you are doing this on the grill, you may want to replace your packet with a fresh one every 2 hours or so. This should keep the right amount of smoke going for you. If you want less smoke flavor, just replace the packet once. Replacing the packet more often will give you a really foul, almost lighter fluid type taste…and nobody likes that!
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