Im really conflicted between whether I prefer baby backs or st louis style ribs… the bacon-ey, greasy goodness of the STL with a tangy rub is about as close to heavenly as you can get. But then again, its hard to beat the meaty bark that you can develop on a nice set of baby backs.
On my baby back ribs, I use the Smokey Rub-inson rub that is on one of the other blog pages. Its basically equal parts paprika, chili powder, onion powder, brown sugar, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cumin. Its a more complex flavor profile than a typical tangy or sweet rub. The chili powder and paprika give it some bright smokiness, the brown sugar gives it the sweetness, and the cumin adds a little something extra at the end. This time around I doubled the amount of brown sugar and split it between light and dark. I also added an additional tablespoon of both paprika and chili powder.
I may try something next time around like hitting them with lemon during the last hour of cooking, or adding bay leaves to my wrap. But until next time…
Anywho, I start by unwrapping and rinsing the meat in cold tap water in my sink. Then I de-membrane, rinse again, and pat them nice and dry.
Now that your slabs are de-membraned and dry, they are ready for the rub. I hit them pretty liberally, since I dont sauce my ribs. The rub is the star of the show, and the wood and the bark really has a chance to shine.
I set my smoker to about 235-245°F and let it get to a nice consistent temperature then throw the meat on, bone side down.
3 hours later, you have a nice bark developing. For hours 4 and 5, I prepare aluminum foil wrap with apple cider vinegar and honey. Similar to how I handle the STL slabs in my previous post. Ive found that this really helps to rehydrate the meat a bit and make them more juicy.
I drop the slabs into each of their own foil pocket, then hit the underside with some ACV and honey and wrap them tight. Then place the meat side down on the grates for 2 hours.
After the 2 hours are up, i unwrap the ribs, pour the extra juice into the water pan, then flip the slabs bone side down back onto the grates. The slabs have a wet appearance at this step, from basting in the ACV. The final hour of cooking with dry the bark again, and lock in the juice from the wrapping step.
Close her up for another hour, then come back to pull them off. Notice how rich the bark looks, and how the rub seems to be integrated with the meat. This is the style that characterizes my ribs. No sauce. I may experiment with a vinegar sauce drizzle down the road. But ive been very happy with how theyve been turning out with this method.
I let them rest for about 15 minutes, then cut. The smoke ring is there, but not as much as I get when I rub overnight. I didnt have enough time to prep last night, so the ribs only really sat in the rub for 1.5 hours before going onto the smoker. The colder the meat it when it first gets on, the thicker your smoke ring will be.
As a side for tonights dinner, I also made my homemade mac n cheese. I usually de-bone half of a slab, shred the meat, and pan fry it in bbq sauce and put it on top. OMG it is to die for. You can find the recipe in my next post, here, when its ready!