The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

Mini Grill Camp - Day 1

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At the end of this past week I had a little 3-day marathon cook, not unlike the week in October that some friends called grill camp. It started off small scale and grew. It ended in two weekend barbecue smorgasbord meals shared with my family on Saturday and Sunday. The picture above is my plate from Saturday. What a tough decision. I mean where do you start.

I’d taken off the last three days in August. When my original plans fell through, I decided I’d still take the time off and perhaps I might smoke something. This year has been a bit of an off year and I haven’t done as much grilling and smoking. I figured a little time off with unplanned free time would be a good time to sneak in a few things. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be in the mood, so figured I’d play it one day at a time. If I felt like doing more, I’d do more.

I started off with ribs. In my opinion this is my weakest area. The ribs I’ve made to date have been better than what you get most of the time when you eat out. Particularly here in New England. But on occasion I’ve had some truly great ribs. I know I still have a ways to go. I decided to try a new recipe from Steven Raichlen’s book
Ribs, Ribs, Ribs. The recipe was called BAD TO THE BONE RIBS WITH RAZOR BONE BBQ SAUCE. One of the things that appealed to me was the cooking method. It was a variation on the 3-2-1 method. The first 3 hours were the same. The ribs were cooked for 3 hours on the smoker. The second 2 hours the ribs were wrapped in foil. The variation here was that the ribs weren’t just sprayed with some sort of juice, they were sealed in with a baste from apple juice, brown sugar, unsalted butter and honey. Instead of spending the last hour out of the foil and back on the smoker, these ribs were brushed with barbecue sauce and seared on the grill for one or two minutes. All in all these didn’t seem like your average ribs.

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The ingredients for the 9 spice rub

The finished spice rub

The first step was to remove the silverskin from the bone side of the ribs. This is the fatty film which can prevent the ribs from absorbing the smoke and the flavors from the rub. I used a butter knife blade to start pulling this up. Once enough of the silverskin has been pried up, I grab it with a paper towel to get a better grip. After the silverskin was removed, the ribs were sprayed with lemon juice and received a 9 spice dry rub. They were wrapped in plastic wrap and stashed in the fridge for 4 hours. While this was going on I decided I was enjoying myself and I headed out to get some food for the next day’s smoke. While out I also bought some 25 pound (11 Kg) bags of wood chunks to hopefully take me through the winter. Getting grilling supplies in New England in the winter is next to impossible, so hopefully I scored enough to last me until next spring.

The silver skin was removed from the backside and the ribs will be sprayed with lemon juice prior to receiving their spice rub.

When I got home it was time to fire up the smoker. The weather was warm and I was a bit surprised that the CG hit 225 (110 C) in about 20 minutes, about twice as fast as normal. I don’t know if I lit a few more coals than normal in the charcoal chimney or what. I kept an eye on the remote read thermometer and was able to close the dampers down in time to hold 225 (110 C). I unwrapped the ribs and put them in the rib rack and it was out to the smoker. For wood I used hickory and added a new chunk at the one and two hour mark.

The ribs were rubbed, wrapped for 4 hours and stored in the fridge. They are now on the rib rack and ready to go out to the smoker

During the 3 hours the ribs were on the smoker, I made the barbecue sauce. This was a doctored barbecue sauce, consisting of a blend of two different commercial barbecue sauces, to which you added other spices and sauces. The sauce was divided into two equal portions. One half for basting the ribs before their sear and one half to serve as a BBQ sauce for the ribs. I also gathered up the four ingredients for the baste. I divided it into equal portions so all I had to do was add it to the foil pouches.

The ingredients for the doctored BBQ sauce

Once that was done and the sauce was cooling, I made a panini based on one of my favorite deli sandwiches. It combined corned beef, pastrami and roast beef with sharp cheddar cheese. They were served on slices from a fresh loaf of sourdough bread with mustard on one slice and horseradish on the other. As I was sitting outside savoring this delicious sandwich and the good weather, I was thinking: Any day you are firing up the gas grill and the smoker is a GREAT day indeed.

Time for a lunch break-the ingredients for a panini

Deli style panini

I pulled the ribs at the 3 hour mark and they were a little farther along than I might have hoped. As a result I decided to cut the time in foil down. The ribs really seem to cook almost twice as fast in the foil. I decided that since the ribs went about 30 minutes too long, I would reduce the time in foil by about an hour.

The ribs after 3 hours on the smoker

The ribs are basted with apple juice, butter, brown sugar & honey

The ribs after their one hour baste wrapped in foil

The ribs were placed on two sheets of foil which were turned up at the sides and pleated at the corners. I basted them with the 4 items and then sealed the top. It was back on to the rib rack and onto the smoker for another hour. I fired up the gas grill 15 minutes before the ribs were done. I tried making Rendezvous Ribs once. These ribs are not smoked on a smoker, but direct grilled the entire time. I had a lot of problems with flare ups and I was worried that I might kill these ribs during the final couple minutes. The recipe called for a 1-3 minute sear on the gas grill. I basted the ribs with the reserved BBQ sauce and took them out to the gas grill. After the first minute on each side, the ribs started to flare up. I figured nothing would be gained and everything might be lost by more grill time so I pulled the ribs of the grill after a one minute per side sear. They were indeed seared, but not too burned. The skin was a little crispy.


The ribs after their one hour baste wrapped in foil

The ribs after their one minute per side sear

The final proof was in the eating. I cut the racks into 4 3-bone sections and sat down to enjoy them. These were the best ribs I have turned out. They were very tasty with a sweet and tangy sauce. They were very moist which must have come from the one hour in foil with the 4 basting ingredients. I used the FoodSaver to seal the ribs. I was later to find that even reheated these were some of the most moist ribs I have had. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Next time out I will try 2-1/2 hours , not 3 and then I will extend the foil time to 1-1/2 hours. I had purchased some items to smoke for Thursday, Happy with my results for Wednesday it was off to the store to stock up for Friday. I will describe Thursday’s meals in my next entry.

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My best ribs yet. My vacation was off to a great start


  BAD TO THE BONE RIBS Pork Picture Entry
  DELI PANINI Panini Picture Entry


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