Of all the questions I receive at smoking-meat.com on smoking meat, the number one question involves smoking ribs.
There are several different methods for smoking ribs that are literally “fall off the bone” tender and lucky for you I am going to tell you everything I know about it.
The first step in cooking ribs is in the preparation..
To remove the membrane, slip a knife, screwdriver or other object under the membrane at about the second or third bone from the end and pry up just enough so that you can get ahold of it.
Using a paper towel for friction, pull the membrane firmly up and off the rib in one motion if possible. If you miss a piece it is not the end of the world but you should try to get as much off as possible.
Unbelievably, some folks leave the membrane on and actually expect their friends and family to eat that stuff! I have even been to restaurants that leave it on. It takes a little extra time to get it off but it is so worth it.
Tip: Catfish skinning pliers also do a nice job of pulling off the membrane.
Once the membrane is removed, you may want to trim the ribs Kansas City Style which is removing the brisket bone, that long bone that runs perpendicular to the actual ribs themselves. You will also cut off the very tip of the narrow end of the ribs so that the slab is now very rectangular in shape and each corner forms a 90 degree angle.
This is mainly for looks but looks do matter.. sometimes more than others.
You may also want to remove the flap of skin that runs the length of the ribs on the meaty side.. this skirt meat can be cut into pieces and laid in the smoker with the ribs. They will get done in about an hour and make great snacks.
Removing the skirt allows the heat and smoke to get to the meat better and cooks the ribs more evenly.
If you are planning to do your ribs memphis style, which is basically using a dry rub on the ribs at the beginning of the smoke and serving sauce on the side, then you will need a good rib rub.
Either way.. get a good rib rub and give the ribs a good dusting the night before you plan to smoke the ribs.
Wrap the ribs in plastic and place in fridge to allow the rub to do wonderful things to the meat while you sleep.
Once you are ready to smoke the ribs..
Build a 225 degree fire using lump charcoal making sure there is plenty of airflow by leaving the intake vent open at least half way and the damper open about 3/4 of the way.
Build a small enough fire so that it will maintain 225 degrees with these settings.
Create some smoke by using wood chunks in an iron chip/chunk box or you can wrap a good sized handful of chips up in a large piece of foil.
Poke 5 or 6 holes in the foil package and lay it right on the coals for some good smoke action.
Remove ribs from the plastic wrap and place on grate.
Smoke the ribs for about 3 hours or so using hickory, mesquite, apple or your favorite wood mopping the ribs every hour or so with straight apple juice.
After 3 hours continue applying 225 degree heat for another 3 hours or until the ribs reach 170 degrees internally.
Once the ribs have reached temperature, remove them from the smoker very carefully and let them sit on the counter for about 10-15 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the ribs.
To further tenderize the ribs, place the ribs in foil after removing from smoker. Splash on some apple juice just before closing them up.
Wrap the foiled ribs in a thick towel and place in a tight cooler for up to 2 hours.
This will produce good ribs but they may not be falling off the bone.. if that is what you after then check out the 3-2-1 method which will uses foil to steam the ribs during the smoking process and yields extremely tender ribs.
Smoking Ribs to perfection has just been accomplished by you!
Here is a video that will help you even further: