The marinade was a blend of sweet & hot, actually very hot and a lot of sweet.
These ribs used an overnight marinade which I made Thursday night while waiting for the pulled pork to finish up. The marinade was both colorful and a wide variety of flavors. The sweet came from the oranges and perhaps the soy sauce. The spice was courtesy of the chili peppers. Calling these hot was a bit of an understatement, I needed to wear gloves while handling them. Scallions, garlic, onions and cloves added their flavors to the blend . Rounding out the mix were allspice, cloves, parsley, black pepper and red wine vinegar. These ingredients were combined in a blender and resulted in a greenish paste the smelled wonderful and had flecks of many colors throughout the mix. The paste was applied to the ribs which were then refrigerated overnight. The timing was perfect for this because the Boston butt had come off the smoker and rested in the cooler, It was time to pull it, sauce it and put it in FoodSaver bags. My accidental discovery that the FoodSaver actually improved the flavor intensity of my pulled pork had freed me from trying to have the pork finish up just before dinner time. Now I could cook it and pull it when it was convenient for me.
The ribs marinade overnight. The big question was: Do I keep the marinade on while smoking? I finally decided to leave it on.
When it was time to start cooking the ribs on Friday,I had an interesting decision to make. Do I scrape off the marinade or keep it on while smoking the ribs. After much internal debate I finally decided to keep he marinade on the ribs. The ribs were place on a rib rack and it was off to the smoker. One of the things I have found cooking ribs on my CG is that the times in the recipes need to be reduced. Ribs have a built in version of the pop up thermometers. The meat begins pulling back off the bone when the ribs are cooking. This recipe called for the bones to be 1/4” to 1/2” (0.66 to 1.25 cm) exposed. The first time I made ribs on my CG using the so-called 3-2-1 method I found they were over done. They were fall off the bone tender which actually means they went too long. In fact they almost fell apart taking them out of the rib rack. Ribs are supposed to have a little chew to them.
The ribs are on the smoker, time to make the sauce.
This recipe called for 3-4 hours on the smoker followed by the application of the sauce and then another hour on the smoker. Based on prior experience I chose the 3 hour end of that range as my guide and reduced it down to 2.5 hours. Now this is for planning purposes so I can plan when dinner is served, when to cook the sides etc. Another purpose is so I can turn the ribs 180 degrees to even out the cooking temperatures. I have gotten pretty good at figuring out what the reduced cooking time in my CG should be. Sure enough the meat had pulled back from the bone about 1/4” (0.66 cm) at the 2.5 hour mark. But I am getting ahead of myself as I still had to make the BBQ sauce when the ribs went on the smoker. But if you are new to all this it may take you a few rounds of ribs before you get a feel for how long ribs take to cook on your smoker.
The ribs are ready to be sauced and smoked for 30 more minutes.
The sauce was made from a blend of wet and dry ingredients. The wet was ketchup, soy sauce, honey, lime juice and of course rum. The dry was nutmeg, brown sugar and cinnamon. The recipe called for it to simmer for a while and then gave instructions for how to tweak it if it was too sweet or too spicy. Well frankly I was clueless what to do with this sauce. It was so different from what I expected I had no base of reference. It was unique in my experience so I had no idea what it “should” taste like. No point trying to tweak it when I had no point of reference. I set the sauce aside to cool and took several samples as it cooled. The flavor was totally different from what I was expecting.
Off the smoker and chopped into 1/3 racks after a 5 minute rest.
As mentioned before at 2.5 hours the ribs were showing about 1/4” (0.66 cm) of bone so I put the rib rack on a big stainless steel tray and brought it into the Kitchen to sauce. Saucing the ribs took just under 15 minutes and the it was back out to the smoker. I decided on another 1/2 hour on the smoker to finish.This turned out to be a good choice as the meat had pulled back to 1/2” (1.25 cm) off the bone at that point. The ribs were allowed to cool for five minutes and then I cut them into 1/3 rack sections. The ribs turned out to be just right in terms of doneness. Another sign of this was that I could pull the ribs apart with my hands. They didn’t fall apart but offered a little resistance.
T Caption .
Some handsome looking ribs.
So how were they. Very good and not your typical rib. The first surprise was there was little hint of the hot peppers used in the marinade. There was some heat but far less than I expected based on how hot the chilies were. The second surprise was the sauce. While it was a bit disconcerting when sampled on its own, it just worked with the ribs. It was the perfect blend for the taste of the ribs and their marinade. I took a spoonful of the sauce by itself and once again it was an ‘odd” taste. But on the ribs it just worked well. The ribs were moist thanks to the marinade and I could taste a citrus flavor. I was not sure if it was the oranges or the lime.
Juicy ribs, with a great smoke ring & flavor-a great way to end Mini Grill Camp ’08.
Bottom line: these ribs were a great way to wrap up Mini Grill Camp ’08. These ribs are not your traditional ribs but are great for a change of pace. At first I was a bit put off by the wide variety of ribs in Steven Raichlen’s Ribs, Ribs, Ribs book. But as I branch out and try some of these somewhat non-traditional recipes, I am finding a lot to like. I probably could not eat some of these recipes as a steady diet, but they are great for a change. This is perhaps a good thing because these recipes also tend to be a bit more prep intensive. So my Mini Grill camp was over on a high note. It was a fun 4 days and I got to share some great new food with friends and family.