I just made 2 racks of baby back ribs yesterday, and tested out my newly tweaked, and I might add; PERFECTED, sweet marinade. Follow the link to see all the details on the marinade I used.
Now for the details of the cook. First off, the night before the cook, I removed the membrane from the back side of the ribs, and then cut the racks in half. Then I mixed up the marinade, and completely covered the ribs in a tupperware container, sealed it, and put it into the refrigerator overnight.
The next morning, after 11 hours in the marinade, I removed the ribs and drained off the marinade. I then rubbed all surfaces of the ribs with my favorite honey powder based rub. I have used a number of rubs, and have experimented with my own mixtures, but I keep finding myself using this one when I want a sweet rub. After rubbing the ribs thoroughly and generously, I put them back into the container, (after washing it), and put them back into the refrigerator.
2 hours later, I removed the container from the refrigerator and set it on the kitchen counter to start warming up a bit. I then went outside to get the smoker ready. Which means; get the chair out, the table and thermometers needed, and any other things like tongs and pot holders.
Now I start the fire. I have finally documented my personal method for starting my fire in my vertical smoker. Follow the link to read my method. This method has been tweaked after many cooks, and keeps my fire cooking at 225 to 250 degrees F for 8 to 10 hours with little to no fuss.
There are a lot of different woods that will compliment baby back ribs nicely, but I chose to use all mesquite for this cook. For those that didn’t follow the link to my fire starting method, that’s a mixture of charcoal briquettes, and mesquite chunks.
Okay, all this preparation and fire starting took about 45 minutes, so the meat was on the counter that long. Long enough to warm up some, but not too long to sit on the counter above the 40 degree danger zone. Time to put it in the smoker.
Important Note: Always bring up the temperature of your smoker to your desired cooking temperature before putting the meat in the smoker!
I put the ribs directly on the grill, which is about 15″ above my fire. Close the lid, and watch the temperature. This first half hour or so is about the only time I have to make adjustments. I have 4 different vents I can plug and unplug in the top of my smoker to get the temperature where I want it to stay.
I should mention, I never once opened the smoker for the first 3 hours of smoking. Typically, with a large roast, or a whole chicken, I would have a remote digital thermometer in place and constantly monitoring the internal temperature of the meat after about 1 hour in the smoker. But with ribs, considering the fact they are not very thick, and the close proximity of bones, this would not be very accurate or dependable.
So, after 3 1/2 hours, I removed the lid of the smoker and probed different areas of the ribs with an instant read digital thermometer. It was reading an average of 180 degrees. This was very close to being done, but not quite there yet. A half hour later, I checked it again, and was getting 190 degrees. PERFECT!
I also checked the tenderness by picking up a rack with the tongs at one end of the rack. When you give it a good bounce while holding just one end, it should slightly tear apart at the weak point between two bones.
I removed the ribs. And of course, I immediately pulled one rib off and ate it. WOW! WOW! WOW!!! The sweet marinade is a definite keeper!
I then put them into a sealable container, closed the container, and brought them into the house. I let them sit like that on the counter for about a half an hour.
And then I put them on a plate and took pictures for all of you to see!