Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Mesquite Smoked Baby Back Ribs

It was a perfect day to fire up the smoker. Not like last time where it was 105 degrees and tending the fire around a 250 degree smoke chamber was just a miserable experience. The weather was clear, sunny and in the low 80's. Fall has arrived in Texas.

My wood of choice for baby backs is mesquite.  I really like the flavor it gives when it mixes with my rub.  Hickory tends to be a little too strong with this mix but if you control the smoke it works well too.  There are two methods with this rub. The first one is you can leave all the excess rub on the ribs while they are smoking. This will form a very tasty but bold crust on the outside of the ribs.  Be sure to have plenty of napkins available too.  The second is to shake off and wipe off any remaining rub. You will still have a crust but it will be a very thin crust and the meat will take on a little more smoke.  I don't have a preference. I just depends on my mood that day.


1 full rack of baby back ribs,
   membrane removed from the back (crucial step here)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher/sea salt
1 teaspoon white sugar


Prepare your smoking vessel. You want an even heat of 225-250.

If your smoker can't handle an intact full rack then cut the rack into manageable pieces. I cut mine in half. 

Mix the sugars and seasonings together in a bowl. Be sure to work out any lumps from the brown sugar.

Place the ribs in a deep pan and coat liberally with the rub on both sides.  Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.

Remove the pan from the fridge, remove the wrap and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.  You want to get the chill off the meat. 

Place the ribs in the smoker, bone side down. Leave as much room around them as you can to allow proper circulation.

Smoke the ribs at 225/250 for 3 hours.  Check the meat after 3 hours. If you the bones are loose and the rib starts to break when you pick it up then its done. If its not quite tender enough wrap with foil and continue cooking for another hour and up to 2 more hours.  The longer you cook it the more tender it will get but it will get to the point where it just falls apart and looses its texture. You want the meat to stay on the bone while you handle it but come off with just the smallest of tugs.  If you don't wrap them after 3 hours they will start to dry out.  You can use a mop sauce after the 3 hour mark to keep them moist and eliminate the foil.

Once they reach the desired tenderness remove them from the smoker and let them sit, at room temp for a few minutes before you serve them. I cut them into 2 rib portions.That gives you a good amount of meat per person and its easy to handle. 

*You can finish these in the over after they smoke for 3 hours. Just follow the same procedures.  Heat your oven to 250, wrap in foil and check them every 30 minutes. 

** You can of course do the whole process in the oven. Same temps and times.  Don't touch them for at least 3 hours and bake them on a rack over a sheet pan...but line it with foil to minimize the clean up.

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