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The Expert’s Guide to Smoking Ribs

The Expert’s Guide to Smoking Ribs

Despite the commonly held belief that smoking ribs is a difficult process, it is actually an incredibly easy process! While each chef will have their own unique rubs, sauces and secret techniques, there are several steps that can help you to ensure that your end result is perfectly smoked ribs every time!

Starting With The Meat

When you are shopping for your ribs be sure to select ribs that don’t appear to have excessive amounts of fat on them. While this might be a good thing for smoking a brisket, smoking ribs to perfection generally entails trimming excess fat off of them prior to placing them into your smoker. Babyback and country style pork ribs generally make the best choices for smoking; beef ribs can also be smoked but it often proves to be a little more difficult to locate beef ribs that are not heavily fatty.

Prepping The Meat

The first steps to prepping your meat is to trim excess fat where possible as a key part of smoking ribs is to infuse the meat with the flavor of the wood. If there is excessive fat on the ribs the flavor will be infused into the fat and not into the meat where you want it to be!

Once trimmed, run the ribs under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.

The Rib Rub

There is some controversy between rib experts about the type of rub that works best for ribs – some prefer a wet rub while other rib connoisseurs prefer a dry rub. The rub for your ribs is simply a spice or herb mixture that is applied to (or rubbed on) the ribs prior to smoking. Dry rubs are available in just about every grocery store however it is pretty easy to make your own. Start your rub with paprika, garlic, and brown sugar – from there you can add spices or herbs that appeal to your taste buds like chili powder, cumin, or cayenne pepper. Apply the rub evenly over your ribs, cover and set them aside for at least an hour – many experts agree that placing the ribs covered overnight in your fridge is the best way to infuse the flavor of the rub into the meat.

Prepping The Smoker

Whether you have a gas or electric smoker it is important to follow any instructions and recommendations by the manufacturers in order to ensure that your smoker is working correctly; remember, also, that your smoker should be kept clean and free of any debris that could cause a fire flare-up. The water levels in the water tray should be kept up during the smoking process, and the wood should be replenished every two hours.

The type of wood that you use in your smoker depends entirely on your personal preference; mesquite or hickory woods are good for infusing the meats with a strong smoked flavor. Consider mixing the two in your smoker for a much richer smoked flavor.

To get an optimal amount of smoke flavor into your ribs many experts recommend putting the meat into your smoker shortly after it is started. Allow the smoker to heat for five to ten minutes and then place your ribs on any of the racks in the smoker.

The amount of time for smoking ribs varies based upon the amount of food in the smoker. To test the readiness of your ribs use a fork and carefully try to pull some of the meat away from the bone. If it comes away easily and cleanly then your ribs are ready to enjoy! In the last thirty minutes of cooking consider basting your ribs with your favorite barbeque sauce and have the napkins on standby!

Photo courtesy of Stefano A.

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