Sunday, July 5, 2015

Not your Dad's ribs: Smoked on the Big Green Egg.

Up until a couple of years ago, I fancied myself as a decent griller of hamburgers, steaks, pork chops and chicken breasts. But I could never get ribs to turn out and wouldn't even dream about doing a pork shoulder or brisket. To get that authentic barbecue flavor, I needed an actual smoker. After doing my research, I decided on a Big Green Egg (BGE) ceramic grill and automatic temperature control unit called the DigiQ DX2 by BBQ Guru.

One of the biggest benefits of owning a ceramic grill like the BGE, besides versatility, is its ability to maintain low temperatures for long periods of time. Pork shoulders alone can take 15, 16 or even 20 hours to cook depending on their size. The BGE does a great job on it's own but with a little help from the DigiQ DX2, it's even easier. I'm able to set the temp and forget about it, just like an oven. But unlike an oven, I get to have the flavor of real charcoal and wood smoke. If there are two things I love, it's technology and good barbecue!

This brings me back to the whole reason you're reading in the first place: How I smoke baby back ribs. I use the 3-2-1 method of cooking them over charcoal and applewood chunks. It's super easy and doesn't require a whole afternoon of tending a smoker.

Smoked Barbecue Baby Back Ribs

  • Baby back ribs
  • Dry rub of your choice
  • Yellow mustard
  • Barebecue sauce
  • Coke or Pepsi
  • Summer brew like a Hefeweizen or Ale to sip on during the cook (optional, but recommended)

  • Rib Prep (15 minutes)
First off, I gave the ribs a thorough rinse with water. Once clean, I removed the membrane from the backside using a fork and my fingers. I lathered 'em up with yellow mustard on the front and back, then liberally applied the rub to both sides. The mustard helps create a nice bark and allows the spices to stick. After that, they went back in the fridge so I could start the grill.

  • Smoker Prep (15 minutes)
I lit the charcoal and placed 3-4 pieces of applewood on the top once it was nice and hot. Hickory also tastes good on pork. Then use the platesetter with feet up and place the grate on top. The platesetter creates an indirect heat so the ribs cook evenly and don't burn. If you have a DigiQ DX2 like me, then now is the time to hook it up and set the temp to 225 degrees. Otherwise, work the vents until you're maintaining a temp of 225° F (daisy wheel up top barely open and bottom vent open about 1/4"). Now get those ribs outta the fridge!

There's no method to my charcoal stacking.  I just dump it in until it reaches the bottoms of the fire ring.

When starting the Big Green Egg, open the bottom vent up to allow lots of oxygen through.

Once the coals are hot, throw a couple chunks of wood on top.

Replace the cast iron top and open the daisy wheel just a smidgen.

Once the temperature is set, the DigiQ DX2 does the rest.  Now go grab a beer.

  • 3-2-1 Method (6 hours)
It's this simple: 3-2-1 is the amount of time to spend on each step. Smoke the ribs for 3 hours over indirect heat. I use a rib rack to save space and make sure the ribs are over the plate setter and aren't being torched by direct heat.

I clipped my pit temperature probe to the rib rack for a more accurate temp of the pit vs the grill grate.

My wife is reading our little one a book while the delicious, smokey aroma fills the air.

Even our dog doesn't want to miss out on this nose candy.

After the 3 hours, take the ribs off the grill and wrap them each tightly in foil with 1/2 cup of soda per rack and cook the meat side down for another 2 hours.

After 2 hours, remove the ribs from the foil and place them back on the grill (or rib rack) for 1 hour to tighten things back up.  If you like them sauced, brush some on 10 minutes before you pull them off the grill.

Once they're done, the bones should have pulled away from the meat and the ribs will have an internal temperature around 180° F.  Let them rest on a plate for 15 minutes with foil tented over them and finish up with any sides you had planned. When it's time to dig in, cut between every 3rd rib and serve 'em up! They should be tender, moist and delicious.

I'm more of a "photo" guy than recipe writer so I may have missed something in the write-up.  If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.  Bon appetit!

EDIT: I just realized that 6 years ago to the DAY, I made a similar post about cooking ribs on my Weber Grill.  That's some crazy stuff right there!  I have to say my ribs have improved significantly since then!
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