Monday, June 17, 2013

Citrus Honey Garlic RIBS Smoked Ribs Actually on a Weber Kettle Grill - Grilling Time

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Take a look at that face!!!  Now that is a happy man.

Actually, that is my son, PFC James Scott; who happens to be serving in the Army.  He is a medic, stationed at Ft. Riley, which happens to be only a couple hour drive from my back yard!  In his civilian life he grew up mostly in Delaware, so it is fantastic to have his Army home this close.  While the Army is indeed making a man of him, having him close is my opportunity to teach him things that a man should know...

Like how to smoke Baby Back Ribs!

I wanted to show him the basics... And you can not get more basic than the ubiquitous Weber Kettle.  They are cheap (under $100), easy to use and I would guess that more people have started and learned on a Weber than any other brand or style of grill.  Much as I love my expensive smoker, if you can't make a rack of smoked ribs on a Weber, you really should not spend the money on a dedicated smoker.

So, for Ribs 101, I went old school and broke out the Weber...

But before we even get outside to the grill, it's time to prepare the meat.

First step is to remove the membrane.

The bone side of ribs comes with a skin or membrane. YOU MUST REMOVE THIS MEMBRANE. When this cooks, it is tough, chewy and nasty tasting. I am stunned how many restaurants will serve a rack of ribs with this still on... but I am digressing. It takes a bit of practice, but removing the membrane is easy. There is a wonderful step by step photo post for removing the skin already on the net. Click HERE for that lesson. Very basically, slip a knife or spoon end under the meat, and lift off. You can see in the photo the shiny part still has the skin, and the more dull parts have the membrane removed. Texture is important in ribs. This membrane will leave a very unpleasant texture behind. Remove it and the texture of your ribs will separate your ribs from the also rans...

Next up is to MAKE your rub.

Sure, you can buy any of the hundreds and hundreds of pre packaged store bought rubs and you will have great success with them.  BUT, it is always better to make your own.  You can control the taste, the amount of salt (those store bought ones usually have salt as the main ingredient to increase shelf life).  But honestly, the main reason is for bragging rights.

Besides, it is cheap and easy to make your own.  You can find plenty of Rib Rub Recipes with a Google search, just pick one that has ingredients you like.

Here's the recipe I used for these ribs...

Basic Garlic Rub for Smoked Ribs

  • 3 TBS Brown Sugar
  • 3 TBS Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Fresh Cracked Peppercorns
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix all ingredients with your fingers to insure no clumps of spices and an even mixture.
  2. Generously rub (it's called a rub, not a sprinkle) the mixture on the ribs, do a thin layer on the bone side and a thicker layer on the meat side.
  3. Allow to rest at room temperature with the rub on for 30 minutes to allow the ingredients to season the meat.
OK... During the thirty minute "rest", it is now time to prepare your grill...

There are a couple of must have accessories that you will need to guarantee success...

The type of coal is very important.  DO NOT EVER EVER EVER USE MATCHLIGHT TYPE COAL.  Instead look for a brand that advertises itself as 100% natural or all wood.  Anything else will have chemicals used to hold the briquettes together.  These chemicals will add an unpleasant taste to your meat.  Use 100% natural.

You will want a "Chimney" to light the coals... You'll see what I mean in a minute...

Next you need a thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the grill.  This is not a meat thermometer, instead it is one to be used to measure the air temperature.  One of those dial types works fine, as long as you have a long enough tip to reach the actual temperature of the cooking level.  The top of the kettle will be much hotter than the cooking level just a few inches lower.  Stick this through a vent, making sure the tip does not touch any meat or metal and it works fine.

Two racks of ribs work fine, but where I buy meat they come prepackaged three racks to a bag.  So I need a rib rack in order to stand them up as they cook.

And that's all the "must haves".  It does help to have a meat thermometer as well.  Certainly if you make smoking a way of life you will want to invest in a good thermometer.

OK... Time to prep the grill for INDIRECT HEAT... Here's the most important part in order to get your ribs restaurant quality.  It is important that the heat and smoke travel around the kettle, like a convection oven.  It is equally important that you do not "grill" the ribs, meaning the heat (coals) is not directly below the ribs.  That is too hot, too direct of heat.  Direct heat will burn, indirect will allow low and slow smoking, making fall off the bone tender juicy and delicious!

So... Here's the steps for indirect heat on a Weber Kettle Grill...

 OK, remember All natural Wood Briquettes...

The bag also reads 100% Hardwood Charcoal.

OK... there is a math factor here... 20 Briquettes.  That's all you need now, count out 20 briquettes and put them in a chimney...
 And light the chimney... You use a few pages of newspaper wadded up and stuffed into the bottom, there is a wire rack keeping the newspaper separate from the coal.  Light the paper and let the coals sit on top of the fire for about 10 minutes...
 After 10 minutes the coals should show signs of being lit... Ash around the edges and deep inside glowing red.  Also little wisps of smoke....

If not, relight another few pages of newspaper and repeat the 10 minute wait.

If so, wait for another 5 minutes and then pour...

Only pour around one edge... Indirect remember.  You do not want the coals spread to reach under the meat.

Pop on the grate and you are now ready to cook...

Notice that I have the handles of the grate, one side directly over the stack of lit coals.  This is IMPORTANT so that you can add briquettes without removing the grate.

And the photo above shows the MOST IMPORTANT TIP for insuring Restaurant Quality Low and Slow smoked ribs...

TEMPERATURE.  225 is your goal.  Never higher than 250, never lower than 220.  The air vents at the op and at the bottom of the kettle are adjustable, open wide and more oxygen flows into the kettle and the fire burns hotter.  Close them and no oxygen gets in and the fire dies.  You need that happy medium.  Check your temperature early and often.  It will take you another 10 minutes or more to get the vents right.  Do this before you add the meat.

OK... FINALLY, time to start cooking...

Arrange your ribs in the rib rack or if you are only cooking 2 racks, arrange them flat on the grill NOT over the coals... NOT over the coals.

In tomorrows post I am going to talk about smoked beans.  I always try to smoke beans while smoking meat.  This way as the beans simmer, the steam will help add moisture to the meat, aiding in the meat absorbing more of the smoke flavor.

But for today, should you decide to smoke beans as well (do it), position your beans directly over the lit coals.  This lets the beans simmer.

Now, with all this, the initial 20 briquettes have started to burn out.  Before you close up, time to add more fuel to the fire.

Again... MATH... count out 10 and only 10 briquettes.  Just add these through that opening in the grate that you positioned over the lit coals.  No need to light them, they will land on the lit pile and gradually light themselves.

I add a few wood chips of Apple or Pecan wood as well.  Not too much, you want a gentle smoke, not a billowing chimney.  But also know that the natural wood briquettes also give off enough smoke to flavor the ribs.

OK... NOW close the lid.  Position the temperature probe through a vent and start measuring the temperature.  You have added a lot of mass so it will take some fidgeting of the vents to get the kettle to the right temperature...225... no more than 250, no less than 220.

DO NOT LOOK... the temperature probe will tell you the internal temp.  If you open the lid you will lose your heat and have to start all over again... DO NOT OPEN THE LID.

And, you are now ready to relax.  This is 90% of the job.  the rest is simply to maintain the temperature.  In a kettle cooker, the coals will begin to die after about 1 hour.  So, simply keep an eye on the clock and the temperature.  After 1 hour if you notice the temperature begin to dip towards that 220 mark, time to add more coal.


VERY IMPORTANT, have a plan before you lift the lid.  Longer you have the lid open, the more heat you use up and have to start all over getting back to temp.

I want to stir the beans.

I want to flip the ribs in the rack, the ones closest to the fire are moved to the back, the ones in the back are swapped to the front.

and I want to add 10 and only 10 more briquettes.  Again, no need to pre light, you will simply put them through the grate as before, letting them fall onto the still smoldering older coals... they will light.

Less than 1 minute total time open

So, open... Stir... swap... add coal... Close.

While doing all this, you are multi tasking, checking to see how the ribs look.  They should not be charred at all, just starting to look a little darker is all.  If they are charred, you have them too close to the fire or the fire is too hot.  Use those vents to get the temperature lower.

Once the lid is closed, wait for about 10 minutes and make sure the temperature returns to where you want it.  If it does not climb you may need to use a stick to move the coals around a bit.

OK... It takes about 4-5 hours for your ribs to get to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.  After three hours I add checking the internal temperature of the ribs to my hourly check list.  You can also tell when the ribs are done as they start to shrink away from the bones, leaving the ends more and more exposed... but better to use that internal temperature probe.

Now you could be done... The ribs are ready to serve, with the flavor of the rub being the taste.  you can also have a bowl of sauce ready to dip...


You can glaze them.  Here's the glaze I used for the ribs.  It is loosely based on a recipe I found in a Chris Lilly (Great Grill master, restaurateur) cookbook...

Citrus Honey Garlic Rib Glaze

  • 1 Cup Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
  • 1 TBS Dry Rub (same as you used earlier)
  • 1 TBS Fig Vinegar (Balsamic will work as well)
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Cups Ketchup or even use a favorite store bought BBQ sauce)
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix all the ingredients EXCEPT the Honey
  2. Brush the glaze on the ribs
  3. Place the ribs in a LARGE sheet of aluminum foil (you will seal them in a minute).
  4. Drizzle the honey over the ribs and seal
  5. Wrap the ribs tightly and return to the grill (or oven) at 225 degrees for 1 hour
  6. Open, cut into seperate "bones" to serve and ENJOY!

Like I said back at the beginning of this post...

All I did was talk my son through the steps.  These are his first rack of ribs and they are as good as any I have ever made.

The rub seasoning shined through even the sweet glaze.

The technique was perfect.  The temperature always hovered right at 225 to 230, never spiking and never dropping low (except when he had to open the lid to add coal).

The glaze was incredible.  Sweet (we were serving this meal to a couple of lady friends that preferred not to have a fiery hot spice), but not too sweet.

The temperature was just right.  The meat was tender juicy and delicious.  Certainly not over cooked... Just about as good as it gets!

Come back tomorrow and I will share the bean recipe!

I am very proud of my son's service to the country, his choice as serving as a Medic and now for his ability to SMOKE RIBS IN A WEBER KETTLE GRILL!

What a guy!

So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Grilling Time Secret Extras" or "52 Ways to Cook BBQ and Grilling Recipes"!!!

Well over 52 recipes actually as I just can't stop... Over 100 in one grilling season (I love to grill!). But not just leat... Drinks, Condiments (LOTS of different BBQ sauces), Drinks, Desserts... even specialty items like GRILLED Pizza, and fun shaped Watermelons.  Easy and these ideas will make you the MASTER of your Backyard Domain!


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1 comment:

  1. Whats that old saying? If you feed a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you're going to need more beer, bait, tackle, and a boat.