Ribs. Glorious ribs. Specifically baby back ribs. I can eat my weight in them and still want more. (Seriously – we went to one of our favorite restaurants last week for their new “Ribs and Rose” night. The server told us the portions were large and we could probably share one. We couldn’t stop laughing. Yes, we each ordered our own and yes, we devoured them all. I’m sure people were horrified.)
I grew up in Oklahoma – smack dab between Texas and Kansas City and therefore smack dab in the middle of barbecue nirvana. My father loved to smoke baby back ribs and we loved to inhale them. Dad is the Rib Master and thankfully he passed his skill on to his grateful children (and grandchildren).
Childhood summer memories for me center around the pool or lake and the smell of smoke from the barbecue grill. We would splash in the pool or jump off the dock while the smell of the hickory made us hungrier by the minute.
Okay – now that your stomach is growling and you’re licking your lips, let’s get down to business! Place your rack(s) of ribs on a baking sheet. Turn the meaty side down and pull off the silver skin. That’s the tough clear membrane that covers the bone side of the ribs. It’s chewy and also prevents the rub from penetrating into the meat. Use a knife to get under the silver skin at one end of the ribs and then grab the end using paper towels (it’s slippery so the paper towels help you grab it better). Firmly pull the entire silver skin off and discard it.
Next, take a large table spoon and scrape off any excess fat that you. Some racks are fattier or haven’t been trimmed as well and require more scraping than others. Use kitchen shears to trim any excess fat at the ends or edges of the rack of ribs.
Once the ribs are trimmed and ready to go, put about a tablespoon of mustard on one side of the ribs and rub it in well. Mustard (or oil) helps the flavors of the rub penetrate the meat and I like the extra tang that mustard provides. Sprinkle about one-half cup of your favorite dry rub (I’m obviously partial to Dad’s Dry Rub) onto the ribs. Pat and rub until there is an even coat. Turn the ribs over and repeat the mustard and rub on the meatier side. Cover the ribs with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours but up to a day before you smoke them.
Occasionally, on a special occasion, I will go to the trouble of making a homemade barbecue sauce. But usually I’d much rather add some fresh ingredients to bottled barbecue sauce. That gives me much more time to enjoy a cocktail while I tend the smoker and enjoy the afternoon outside, preferably floating in the pool.
My mother is great cook and she taught me the art of doctoring up store bought ingredients like bottled salad dressing and barbecue sauce. With four kids running around the last thing she needed to do was spend extra time making homemade barbecue sauce in the midst of meal time chaos. Everyone always raved about Mom’s barbecue sauce (and salad dressings), not realizing it started with a bottle from the grocery store shelf.
This “recipe” is my usual go-to when I’m in a hurry. Feel free to add, delete or substitute whatever sounds good to you!
Barbecued Baby Back Ribs
- 2 racks baby back ribs trimmed
- 1 cup Dad’s Dry Rub
- 4 tbsp dijon mustard
- hickory chunks
- 1 bottle barbecue sauce
- 1 lime, juiced and zested
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sriracha
- 1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
- Remove the silver skin from the ribs. Scrape any excess fat off both sides of the meat with a table spoon and cut any excess fat off with kitchen shears. Place the ribs on a large baking sheet.
- Rub 1 tablespoon mustard onto one side of the ribs. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the rub over the mustard and gently pat the rub over the entire surface of the ribs so it adheres well. Flip the rack over and repeat on the other side. Repeat with the other rack of ribs. Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but up to a day or so ahead.
- Prepare your grill or smoker with charcoal and bring the temperate up to 250°. Add the hickory chunks to the coals. Place a disposable roasting pan or metal bowl filled with water above the coals and place the grilling grate above the water.
- Place the ribs on the rack above the water pan, bone side down. Close the lid and maintain the grill/smoker temperature of about 250°.
- Smoke the ribs for about 3 hours or until the internal temperature is about 145-150°. Wrap the ribs loosely in heavy duty aluminum foil and return to the grill for another hour.
- Meanwhile, pour the bottle of barbecue sauce into a medium saucepan. Add lime juice and zest, sesame oil, sriracha and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Keep warm while ribs are finishing.
- Remove the foil wrapped ribs from the grill. Carefully remove the water pan from under the grill grate and let the coals get a little hotter.
- Unwrap the ribs from the foil and place back on the grill grate directly over the hot coals, meat side down. Cook for 15-30 minutes, being careful not to let the ribs burn.
- Remove the ribs from the grill. Cut into 1-2 rib sections and serve with barbecue sauce.