BBQ Ribs

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This past Sunday, I called dethblud and kangal, and said "Hey. I'm cooking shit with fire. Bring your camera and take pics so I can show my skillz to the internet." They came, and brought bonus sausages. (not their penises lol) There. I made that joke, so shut up.

I don't have platinum, so I can't do a search. But I got the idea, and the last thread I remember on the topic was someone asking how to make ribs. So I went with that, since there was a lot of bad advice in that thread.

Note, the below will take about 4-5 hours total time, not including making the rub. If you don't have this kind of time/patience, then this will be a waste of your time.

The way I deal with this timing when having a BBQ/cookout thingo is to have a main dish barbecuing early, and then I try to time it so that when people arrive with their own stuff, the grill will be already lit and free for them to grill burgers or whatever. It's important not to let early people throw stuff on, since it may make your main bbq take a lot longer, or cause theirs to overcook.

- Let's start with trying to clear up a few misconceptions. -

First, grilling and BBQ are not the same thing, tho they're related. You can grill in a george forman, or in the oven, or on a gas grill or whatever. Also, just because you put BBQ sauce on something doesn't make it barbecue either. I've specifically NOT used BBQ sauce on the barbecue I'm going to detail below just to make a point.

Barbecue entails 2 specific requirements: Lowered heat, and wood smoke. Smoking food is basically an extended, cooler barbecue, Kebabs are usually a quicker, hotter one.

These misconceptions matter, because the cooking techniques are entirely different. For instance, you usually don't barbecue hamburgers, and it's near impossible to grill a whole chicken.

Next: Charcoal vs. Gas. Makes little difference when grilling, since we're lacking the smoke in either case. There is a noticable difference when you're using quality hardwood charcoal.

Makes a BIG difference when barbecuing, because the charcoal smoke adds it's flavor to the food. Yet another reason that quality hardwood charcoal is important. Note that you should be using wood chips or chunks to generate your smoke, and in either gas or charcoal, that is the smoke you'll taste the most of.

If you're using MatchLight or other crappy charcoal, it's not going to taste much different from the gas grill. It may taste a little burned if it's windy due to blowing ash. Either way, make absolutely sure those things are ready to go before putting the meat on them, or you'll get a gassy flavor.

Also, as with any cooking, good tools make a big difference. Grilling tools tend to be cheaper than others, since with all the heat, they're expendable by default. This is the best kit I've ever found, since it was $20 from Home Depot: Aside from the tongs sucking ass, it's been a pretty tough bunch of gear.

In addition, an oven thermometer is essential, since we've got to keep the temperature pretty specific, and few grills have a thermostat.

- Now that's cleared up, let's get on to how to do this. -

Prepping the Meat[edit]

Let's get mistake #1 out of the way right now: Do NOT boil your ribs before throwing them on the grill. Don't, don't don't do it. Yes, they fall off the bone, but it ruins their flavor, and it's not necessary to make it work.

Since I was lazy and out of ingredients, I didn't marinade overnight. I have made my own Kansas City style spice rub for these ribs. Rubs only need half an hour to an hour for the meat to absorb it. Note that if it's a skinned meat such as chicken, the rub will not penetrate the skin. You have to put it under the skin (Without breaking it!). In the case of baby back ribs, they have a skin type thing under them. You can just pull that off.

I made my own rub, which allows me to make it taste however I want. Buying from the store is fine, just less personalized.

I made it out of this: I can provide my specific recipe if there's interest. (It should be noted that this recipe, and the one for the squirt detailed below are modified from ones originally found in Barbecue! Bible : Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades, Bastes, Butters, and Glazes by Steven Raichlen. VERY highly recommended.)

This one is easy. Wet the meat under running cold water, then pat it dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle the rub over the meat, and rub it in with your fingers. Try to get it pretty evenly covered, but it only needs a light sprinkling. The end result will look like this: (Note that I didn't put rub on the edges so you can see the color difference.)

Now just let it sit in the fridge for 30-60 minutes. Now is a good time to start soaking your wood chips. As every boy scout knows, wet wood makes more smoke than dry. I'm using apple chips, to go with the cider squirt I've made to be used during cooking. Just fill a bowl with chips, then with water, and let it soak for an hour.

You can spend the next hour lighting your fire and fighting on the trampoline with your roommates Pennsic armor as such:

Lighting Your Fire[edit]

I work with charcoal, because I have the patience. I'll try to explain gas if there is a significant difference.

The easiest possible way to do this is a chimney starter. It's a can with a grate in the middle. You fill it with coal, put paper under the coal, light it, and in 10 minutes, you've got your starter fire. Just dump it out and go.With a gas grill, just push the button.


Now, you want to dump it out on one side of the grill. We're going to be using indirect heat for this, so no coals directly under the food. Then just put more coals on top of the stuff that's already lit. The hardwood charcoal will light easily, and doesn't need to be carefully constructed to heat evenly. For a gas grill, you'll want to just heat one side or the other. It might be a good idea to turn the cooler side on, but keep it really low. A lot of gas grills heat very unevenly. YMMV.

Now your fire is lit. Let it go uncovered for about 15 minutes, and then come check on it. It should look something like this:

Last steps real quick. Clean the hot grill with your wire brush. Then use oven mitts to remove it, and dump about half the wood chips on the hot coals. (Drain the water from them first.) Now replace the grill, and throw the meat on it. Make sure none of it is directly over the coals. Close is fine, just not actually over them.

The wood chips will start smoking, and the cooking is ready to begin. Start cooking.jpg

Put the cover on, and set all your air vents to about 1/2 open. I left one of the ones under the coals all the way open. You might need to poke them with a stick or something to clear any coals that have fallen through the grate on them or something.

Actually Barbecuing the Goddamn Food[edit]

Let's do this chronologically:


Check the thermometer first, and then only during maintenance (in this case every 30 minutes), by opening the lid just enough to see. (You'll get a faceful of smoke.) It's important not to peek any more than necessary, as the grill will need to reheat, and you'll add about 10-15 minutes to your cooking time.

THIS IS THE KEY TO THE WHOLE DEAL: THE TEMPERATURE MUST REMAIN BETWEEN 280 and 350 degrees!!!!11!!!!!one111!!! (The cooler side of that is better.)

Granted, that's kind of tricky, since opening the top drops the temp a hell of a lot. It takes practice to know if it's going to stay around where you left it. A good rule of thumb is to assume about a 15-20 degree drop every half hour or so. Again, YMMV, since everyone's grill is different. Mine probably actually cools faster than it should.

If it's too cool, open the vents. If it's too hot, close them. I usually work with the top vent, since it's easy to get to, and the fire may go out of you close the bottom ones too much. Gas is easy. Just fiddle with the knobs till it does what you want.

Ok, so now the meat is cooking. Leave it the hell alone for 30 minutes. Resist the urge to peek. Just let it go. It'll smoke for about 20 of those minutes till the wood chips burn away.


After 30 minutes, it'll look like this:

First check.jpg

Looks kind of dry, doesn't it? It's not. The sugars in the rub have melted into a sort of glaze and the spices are dulling the shine. However, we're going to add some new flavor to it, which will soak deep into the meat by applying a "squirt" or "mop" that's primarily apple cider vinegar, Jack Daniels, lemon juice, and apple cider. I spray this stuff on a little heavier than a mist, but not so much that it'll wash away the rub coat.

The vinegar "breaks through" the aforementioned glaze, and sucks the squirt deep into the meat. Looks a little prettier now, doesn't it?


Top goes back on, and we wait another half an hour.


After a full hour, the coals are probably getting low, and we haven't had any real smoke for a while.

I don't have a fancy grill with a door in the side, so use the oven mitts to remove the grill, meat and all, and set it on a cinder block or something. Quickly throw some more coals on, and then half of what's left of the wood chips.

Now move the meat back, and blow on the new coals until you can see that they've started burning. You should get some decent flames pretty quickly.

Then go again with the squirt, and cover it up. You'll want to check your temperature again, to make sure the new coals are burning properly.


One half hour later, do the same thing. Hit them with the squirt, check the coals, and re-cover. Add more wood chips if you want. Certainly can't hurt things.


This is the same as before, but flip them over. This flip isn't necessary, but I do it so that I can apply the squirt to the other side.

Note 2 things in this img. First, we haven't flipped these for 2 hours, yet the color is about the same as on the top. (Lighter, actually, since we haven't been putting extra sugars on it with the squirt.) Indirect heat is nifty like that. Second, I forgot to pull the skin off the underside before I started cooking. No big deal, just don't forget when you do it.


(We added the sausage at the previous maintenance, since kangal wouldn't stop fucking whining.)


OMFG DONE HOLY CRAP!!!! Take them off the fire, and put them on plates, then take pictures of them. They could have stayed longer with no ill effects, and if I was better able to control the temperature, wouldn't have taken them off for another half hour. But I was hungry. They'd have been even more tender if I'd left them on. As it was, they were already like eating meaty butter.

The Aftermath[edit]

1. I opened use of the grill to others. They threw chicken and sausages all over it, and got thir cooking on.

2. In under 10 minutes, my 4-5 hours of work was reduced to this: This was due to the fact that these ribs are the most outstanding meatfoods ever made, and we're all savages who can't slow down to enjoy such a fine dining experience.

3. Approximately 8 minutes later, I regretted ever owning a grill, and swore off all future eating of any kind thanks to this:

Followed quickly by this:

4. We all started drinking Sparks until we were stupid(er) and then everyone went home.


Holy fucking crap, this is a long post. I hope you all learned enough to stop ruining your ribs with stupid things like boiling, or trying to flip them a billion times since they're over direct heat. If people want to know how to make their own stuff, I'm happy to provide recipes. The store bought stuff is good enough usually tho.

So, if there is interest I can also post about other stuff, like chickens, pork, burgers, etc. I think next week, we're going to be barbecuing my roommates fat fucking cat.