This is a continuation from part 1, How to Make BBQ Ribs That Don’t Suck Ass: the Theory, so if you didn’t read that, you might want to, unless you want to make crappy ribs like everyone else, so don’t cheat….read it! When you’re done, come back here and I’ll give you all the practical steps to create amazing ribs that KICK ass, not suck it.

Stuff you need:

  • Ribs: This recipe is for pork ribs, which are far superior to beef, mainly because they have more meat on them. So get some good baby back pork ribs (they have more meat than spare ribs–hence the name, ‘spare’). Do buy good meat, gentle hobbits. Try to find pork that was raised naturally, without GMO feed, antibiotics or hormones, and comes from a pig that was allowed to roam and get fresh air. So avoid getting them from Mordor-Mart (Walmart), or some other huge grocery corporation. Costco has some meat that is naturally, even organically, produced, though you will have better luck looking around locally, which is always better anyway. Support a local farmer that is practicing sustainable agriculture. They need your money, you need their pork, and we need more farmers like that. Vote with your dollar, if you really want to Be a Hobbit, and Save the Earth.
  • Fuel: Use natural lump charcoal, or a bunch of hardwood. Don’t use briquets; they
    Lump Charcoal

    Lump Charcoal

    have chemicals in them that are not good for you, and taste like shit. Also they are full of fillers, like sand, to make them heavier, I reckon. That’s why you have so much ‘ash’ in your grill after burning them. It’s not ash, it’s sand. Lump charcoal can be found in most hardware stores these days. It’s just charred hard wood. Or just get some hardwood to burn in a separate fire pit, and transfer some of it when you need more in the firebox, unless you’re using a Green Egg Grill, then you need lump.

  • Smoker wood: For pork, I like apple wood. If you can find it sold in bulk, then get it that way, but usually it comes in a bag from the hardware store. Don’t get those little chips. Get a big bag of chunks. They are usually about 3-4 inches ‘square’, and will burn and smoke longer.
  • The Grill: You need a grill with indirect heat: a Smoker grill (I have a Brinkmann), BBQ pit, Green Egg Grill, or some other way of creating indirect heat. DSCN0994You can do ribs on an old school Weber or other charcoal grill, but it will be difficult, and take longer. More on this below.
  • Thermometer: You need some way to tell what the temperature of your grill is. If your grill comes with a thermometer, awesome. If not, then you should get one and adapt it to fit your situation.
  • Ignition: Do not use lighter fluid. It sucks. Do you really want to eat fossil fuels in your meat? The gasoline odor in the morning might “smell like victory,” but it tastes like shit. There are a couple of ways to get your coals going. One, you can buy an electric charcoal starter—which I do not use, but which work. Two, you can use a charcoal chimney. DSCN1557These are made of steel, have a big handle on one side of a cylinder, in which goes the charcoal. Newspaper is stuffed in the bottom, and lit. The draft of the flames pulls air in through the bottom and lights the charcoal above. This is my favorite method. Otherwise, if you have a fire pit, you can keep a little campfire going to shovel hot coals from.
  • Rib Rack: I have a rack that’s designed for smoking ribs, but this is only necessary if you’re doing more ribs than you can fit on your grill by laying them out flat.
    The ribs stack on edge to save space.

    The ribs stack on edge to save space.

    They aren’t expensive, so if you’re into doing a lot of ribs–and why wouldn’t you be–then grab one at the hardware store in the grill department, and slip your ribs into it after you’ve rubbed them down.

Prep

  • Smoker wood. Make sure that hours before you start, like 24 hours DSCN1563would be best, you put a bunch of the apple wood in a bucket—5 gallon size—and cover with water to soak. That way they will be very wet when you get ready to start the fire.
  • Clean out your grill of excess ash. I don’t really ‘clean’ grill grates. All germs will be obliterated when you fire it up. If you’re a germaphobe, you shouldn’t be eating BBQ, and you should probably go back inside before you catch the Plague or something.
  • Membrane removal: This is a key step that people either don’t know about, or in the case of restaurants, they skip or cheat on because it takes time to do it right. If you don’t either remove, or release this membrane, then your ribs will be much tougher to eat, so you must do it, and it’s a pain in the ass. I’m just gonna tell you that right up front. And I’m not always successful at removing it, so sometimes I have to settle for slicing through it. I’ll describe it, but you should refer to the video, below, to see how I do it.
    • On the back side of the ribs, the concave side, you will see a thin film of fat or membrane that covers the whole length of the rack. You want to try to remove it, in once piece if possible. To do this, you need to find a corner, usually up near the narrow end, where you can either get your nails under, or work a very sharp knife under, to get it started. It’s basically like pealing off a sticker from it’s backing, but waaaay more difficult to do in one go.
    • My best advice is to start slowly, because if you can get it just right, and started well, then you can usually pull the whole thing off in one fell swoop, though a slow swoop it is. If for some reason, you can’t get it to start, and this happens sometimes, then you can take option two.
    • To release the holding pressure of the membrane, if you can’t remove it, go down the back side and make very slight slices through the membrane, between each rib bone, in other words, slice in the soft parts between the ribs. Only make a very shallow cut. You don’t want to slice into the meat too much. The membrane will still be there, but it will allow the flavor of the rub to penetrate the backside of the meat, and the smoke and heat will also be able to better reach it. It will also make cutting the ribs into sections easier, as well as the eating process. The remaining membrane will char and curl up, and mostly be out of your way.

  • Rub down the ribs in a dry rub. Try mine. It’s simple, but damned good. Real BBQ doesn’t need a lot of complex rubs and sauces. Personally, I think great ribs stand by themselves, with just a little dry rub, but my rib baste is pretty damned amazing too, so I usually put a bit of it on at the very end, but so little that it cooks onto the meat. It’s not Shady Acres Rib Soup. Here’s my recipe for the rub, and a video on how to Rub Your Meat Rib Meat. The basting sauce recipe is below too.
  • Soak the Smoker Wood: get a 5 gallon bucket, put all your smoker wood in it, and fill it with water. You might want to put something heavy and flat on top to push the wood down into the water. Do this at least a few hours before you start the charcoal.

Steve Bivans’ BBQ Rib Rub (for one rack of ribs, scale accordingly)

  • 1 tbs sea salt
  • 1 tbs black pepper
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbs chilli powder
  • 1/2 cup organic, brown cane sugar (I don’t actually use brown sugar anymore, since I discovered Maple Sugar from Glenna Farms. It’s made from a process of creating maple candy, from maple syrup, then grinding it into a fine sugar. The difference is subtle but amazing. You can order it from them online, if you can’t drive there like I do. Plus, they’re super nice people, and have other great products. Highly recommended!)

 

Steve’s BBQ Rib, Butter, Bourbon, Basting Sauce

  • 1 cup real maple syrup (no, not that Ain’t Yer Mama crap)
  • half a stick of butter, yep, I said it, half a fuckin’ stick!
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of Bourbon (yes, booze, but just any, use real bourbon)
  • – Stir it all together. Microwave it for about 30 seconds, and it’s ready to baste the ribs.

BBQ Time!:DSCN1573 - Version 2

•    Let the ribs sit while you get the fire going.
⁃    Fill up your chimney, or start your coals by whatever method you chose. Once they’re good and hot–they don’t all have to be red/white hot, but most of the should be–dump them into the grill.
⁃    If you’re starting up coals in a smoker grill, which is the optimum situation, or in a Big Green Egg, then get a good bit of it going and put them in your burn box on the end (if a smoker grill), or the normal procedure for the Egg. If you’re using an Egg, you’ll have to put all your charcoal in first, because there’s no way to add more later. If you’re brave, and doing this with a regular charcoal grill, make sure to dump your coals all on one side, or one corner, so that you can put your ribs over the cool side–you don’t want direct heat.
⁃    After the fire is going, you want to regulate the air flow, using the vents in your grill/smoker/Egg to set the temp for about 225 degrees. That is optimum temp for BBQing. It should stay there, as much as possible, the entire time, which might be as much as 7-8 hours, or as little as 5 (These days I’ve been taking them off at about 5 hours. It depends on how meaty and fatty the ribs are; the more meat/fat, the longer to smoke).

Smoke
⁃    Now add your smoker wood. If you’re using an Egg, you’ll have to do it now, so add a lot because again, you can’t add more later. If you have a smoker grill, add some smoker wood to the coals in the side box, and close it down. After the first two hours, you’re going to stop adding smoker wood, because too much smoke can actually make the ribs kind of bitter, and you don’t want that.

The smoker wood sits on top of the hot coals. Ohhhh yeah!

The smoker wood sits on top of the hot coals. Ohhhh yeah!f you’re using an Egg, you’ll have to do it now, so add a lot because again, you can’t add more later. If you have a smoker grill, add some smoker wood to the coals in the side box, and close it down. After the first two hours, you’re going to stop adding smoker wood, because too much smoke can actually make the ribs kind of bitter, and you don’t want that.

•    Put the meat on.
⁃    If you have a Green Egg, you’ll want to put in your heavy clay diffuser thing before replacing grill grate and the meat. This will force the heat up and around the meat so that it will cook indirectly. Indirect heat is another key thing in BBQing. If you’re using a smoker grill, place the ribs in the middle of the grill area (that’s the big section, not over the coals in the side box).
•    Babysitting BBQ coals
⁃    Then the wait begins. This is where the ‘simple’ part of BBQing meets the ‘hard’ part. If you have an old school smoker, like me—I have a Brinkmann— you have to watch it, or you will lose temp and slow the process down too much. You’ll have to add new coals occasionally to keep the temp steady. You don’t have to light the new coals, as long as you have hot coals still in the smoker; just place the cold ones on top of the others, but only a few at a time. Don’t just dump half a bag in there. If it lights, then the temp will be too hot.
Basting the Ribs
⁃    Like I said, I don’t like ‘wet’ ribs. But I do like the flavor that a bit of sauce can add to ribs, so I baste them lightly, towards the very end of the process, basically when I think they’re pretty much done cooking. (Lately, I’ve been skipping the baste, but if you like a little sauce on yours, this is a kick ass one. You can always put a little of the sauce on your plate, and dip them, which is pretty fuckin’ awesome).

How to tell when they’re DONEbest BBQ Ribs in History
⁃    Ribs are done when you can pick up one end, with some big tongs, and they bend fairly easily. This usually only takes about 5 hours or so. They should be bendy, something I’m not. If they are, then pull them ‘thangs’ and EAT’EM! Remember, no forks or spoons allowed! This ain’t Shady Acres Rib Soup people!
Enjoy them with a cold, Mason Jar full of South Farthing Sweet Iced Tea, or beer, or bourbon, and let me know how it turns out! If you have questions about any of my recipes or articles, please don’t hesitate to leave it here in the comments section, or email it to me! I love getting emails. I’m not one of those jackass, celebrity types. Not yet anyway.

Also, don’t forget to check out my article on How to Make Real Pulled Pork BBQ, N.C. Style!

Steve Bivans is a FearLess Life & Self-Publishing Coach, the author of the Amazon #1 Best Sellers, Vikings, War and the Fall of the Carolingians,The End of Fear Itself, and the epic-length, self-help, sustainability tome, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, If you want to learn how write and self-publish a book to best-seller status, crush your limitations and Fears, and disrupt the status quo, contact Steve for a free consultation to see how he can help you change the world! CONTACT STEVE