Category Archives: Pork

How To… Make Baby Back Ribs on the Big Green Egg

Howdy,

If there are 1000s of ways to make pulled pork, there are probably 1000 times that many ways of making ribs!!! But as an amateur, back yard chef, this is what I have learned over the last few years of cooking ribs, so hopefully it helps you out. Again, think of this as a starting point for ONE method of cooking ribs, (one that I like) and go from there and make it your own.

Over the years I have tried a ton of different methods to cooking ribs on the BBQ one way or another. I have tried boiling then grilling, braising then grilling, even nuking then grilling (the worst ribs ever!!!). I have tried straight up gas grilling, slow smoking indirectly on gas and finally various ways of cooking them indirectly on my Big Green Egg. In all of my different variations and experiments, I feel that this method gives me the results I am looking for!

Although these steps may still apply to side ribs, I don’t like side ribs, they are too fatty for me so when I make ribs I ONLY make Baby Backs. I know there are a bajillion people out there who will disagree with that… but it’s my personal taste. So it should be noted all of the following instructions as based on back ribs!

Step 1: Make the Brine

The first step to making killer ribs is planning ahead mixing up a brine ahead of time so that you have it nice and cold and ready to go.

One of my favorites is based on Myron Mixon’s cookbook Everyday Barbecue

It included Apple Juice, white vinegar, salt and sugar. I am not going to give the exact recipe as it is copyrighted in his book but I will tell you it makes my ribs extra special. Go check out his book. I gave you the Amazon link above! The man has won so many barbecue contests, don’t take my word on it, take his!!!

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Anyway I slowly dissolved the salt and sugar in the brine on the stove, heating it up. I had already failed the first step, (plan ahead) the first time I made these so I had to cool the brine back down in an ice bath in the sink before it would be ready to use on the ribs. Remember, make the brine the night before…

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Step 2: Remove the Membrane

The next step in making killer ribs is to take the membrane off the back.

It should be noted that there is a great debate (of course there is 😉 ) about whether you should take the membrane off or leave it on. I am in the camp that says you should take it off. I feel it makes for a less chewy end product. You can see that glistening membrane on the back of the ribs…

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It is really easy to get this thing off once you get the hang of it. Just take a butter knife and along one of the rib bones, slide it between the bone and the membrane to gently separate it.

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Once you have made a big enough cavity, use your fingers to separate more of the membrane. Your fingers are less likely to rip the membrane than the knife is.

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I usually then pull the membrane off the shorter side of the rib first, and then using a paper towel (for grip) you just pull the rest of it off the long side and most of the time it comes off in one big long strip.

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Then voila!!! You can see the 2 ribs, one has the membrane still on, the other does not.

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Step 3: Into the Brine for 4-6 Hours

Once you have all this membrane stuff off, the next step is to brine these babies for at least 4-6 hours! No one said this was going to be fast! Remember what I said about the Pulled Pork and the Brisket? You can’t rush Low & Slow. Think of it this way, you now have 4-6 hours to spend working on side dishes and a few cold ones!

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Step 4: Rinse off the Brine and Dry

About 4 hours later I took the ribs out of the brine and rinsed them off so they wouldn’t be too salty and patted them dry with some paper towels.

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Step 5: Apply Your Favorite Seasonings

My standard for ribs and butts is to use a low salt rub. I am not a huge salt fan and it’s personal taste, but I like to let people control their own salt at the table rather than me being heavy handed with it in the cooking. Also, there is some residual salt from the brine so a low salt rub work great for me. Pick whatever rub you like best, make your own or even blend some of your favorite rubs together. Do it however you like them!!!

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If you have the time, let these set up in the fridge for another hour or 2 while you get the Egg set up and ready to go.

Step 6: Set Up the Big Green Egg for an Indirect Cook

When doing a big multi-hour low and slow cook, I always clean it out real good before I get started so I don’t end up with fire control issues. I then preheat my XL Big Green Egg to 250F, along with my Plate Setter so it is the same temperature as the Egg when it’s time to put the Ribs on.

I soaked some hickory chips and made a foil pouch of wet chips that I put down on the coals along with some loose dry chips for instant smoke. I found this technique worked the best for getting a longer sustained smoke. I have found that putting the chips directly on the coals causes them all to flame out too quickly, even if they are wet. I also added some soaked wood chunks because they also tend to last longer than chips alone. I don’t put the wood on until RIGHT BEFORE I am going to put the meat on.

As for the TYPE of wood to use for smoking, play around and change it up as it will change the flavour.

Some of the wood chips I have used:

    Hickory – Classic! Not too strong, great flavour! I love to blend this with Maple.
    Maple – I love the sweet smoke this makes.
    Pecan – Another sweet wood, but different from maple. Also blends well with Hickory.
    Alder – A little more intense, but takes to soaking in other liquids well (wine or beer)
    Mesquite – A bit strong for pork on its own, use in a small amounts for some kick.
    Whisky Barrel – Same as Mesquite, I like to blend this.

I then put the plate setter on, a drip pan with some left over brine and water and then my ribs.

I managed to get a couple pictures here before the smoke really started…

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Step 7: Stabilize the Egg & Cook for 3 hours

Always important, even when using a Pit Controller is to watch your Egg, especially in the first hour to make sure everything stabilizes exactly where you want it. If you don’t you could be ordering in!

For this cook, I had some trouble with the XL running hot, I had the grill thermometer on the DigiQ in a bad place, too close to the meat, which was giving it an artificially low temperature. So the dome temperature was creeping up about 100 degrees hotter than what the grill and DigiQ were saying. Once I adjusted the location of the thermometer, the rest was clockwork.

At 3 hours in I checked them again and they were looking awesome!!!

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Step 8: Foil, Liquid, Bump Up the Temp to 300F

After 3 hours I took them off and put them into a clean foil tray, drizzled some apple juice in the pan (beer, wine, whisky all work great too!) and then sealed them back up with foil and this time I raised the temp to 300F on purpose 🙂

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Step 9: Remove from Foil, then Grill for 5 & Baste for 10

After about 45 minutes in the foil tray I took them out and let them set up on the grill for about 5 minutes before started basting them with my favorite BBQ Sauce for about 10 minutes total.

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I sauced both sides, about 5 minutes apart and the did the tops one last time before I took them off.

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Step 10: Serve ’em Up!!!

The last step was to serve them up…

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These had the perfect flex, they would bend but didn’t break, they were moist and juicy tender and they weren’t mush and over cooked but firm, with texture.

As I said, there are 1000s of ways that you can cook ribs and get a great result. This is just what I do. I have been working on finding the best way to cook ribs for more than a decade, trying different methods. The Big Green Egg has finally given me the results I have been looking for!

So to summarize in 10 easy steps:

    Step 1: Make the Brine
    Step 2: Remove the Membrane
    Step 3: Into the Brine for 4-6 Hours
    Step 4: Rinse off the Brine and Dry
    Step 5: Apply Your Favorite Seasonings
    Step 6: Set Up the Big Green Egg for an Indirect Cook
    Step 7: Watch the Egg for a Stable Temperature, Cook for 3 hours
    Step 8: Foil, Liquid, Bump Up the Temp to 300 for about 45 minutes
    Step 9: Remove from Foil, then Grill for 5 & Baste for 10
    Step 10: Serve ’em Up!!!

Happy Egging!
Brian

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