Recipe: Labor Day Ribs
As promised, I wanted to get a post up regarding the Ribs that I cooked over the Labor Day Weekend. Now, the recipe was my own – but the cooking method I grabbed from the Wise One’s Big Green Egg BBQ Guide (PDF) – a terrific resource for those Eggers that have a hard time finding recipes that are meant for the Egg.
JSlot’s Ribs Technique
Part I- The Preparation
(Page 63 in the Wise One’s Big Green Egg PDF)
Your ribs should be purchased at least 24 hours in advance of cooking and the following steps completed. The first thing you must do is select your ribs. I prefer to cook pork spares, but this method works on baby backs as well. I buy my ribs at Sam’s Club. They are consistently good. Sam’s carries them in the cryovac packages containing three slabs weighing about 3Â½ lbs each. You can get a better price if you buy them by the case. Ask the meat manager at Sam’s for the case price. Don’t just buy ribs from any grocer. Do some investigating and find a good source. It will pay off in the long run. The first thing you need to do is cut the end of the ribs that contains the cartilage, or knuckles, off of the slab.
Cut this portion off as close to the end of the rib bone as you can. Save these pieces to cook for family, not for presentation to guests. They eat just as well, but they don’t look as nice! Removing this portion also allows for more even cooking of the ribs. Now, cut each slab of ribs in half to make two racks. This will allow more ribs to fit on the grill and also allows the racks to cook more evenly.
The next step is to remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. The best way to do this is to slide the edge of a knife or screwdriver under the edge of the membrane on the first rib and pull gently o the membrane. A paper towel makes gripping the membrane very easy once you have it started, although I still prefer using catfish skinnin’ pliers, since I keep them handy. With a little practice, you will be able to remove the membrane in one piece most of the time.
Now we are ready for the fun part!! Take each rack and rub generously, VERY generously, with French’s mustard. Coat each rack of ribs with your favorite rub until you can’t see the mustard any more. I have a crushed red pepper shaker (taken from Pizza Hut in my larcenous younger days, I must admit) with large holes that I use to dispense my rub. It works great! Place ribs in an airtight container, ziploc bags, or wrap in plastic wrap for 24 hours or until you are ready to place ribs on the cooker. The ribs can be prepped just before cooking if necessary.
I used a store bought rub this go around – Salt Lick Dry Rub
Part II- The Fire
I’ll quickly go over how I start my fire for the record.
First, I remove the grill and fire ring from the Egg. Then, I stir the remaining charcoal with the ash tool until all the ash and small pieces of coal have fallen through the fire grate. If needed, I then empty the ash from the bottom vent. I don’t feel it is necessary to do this every time. I do it about once every two weeks and don’t have any problems. Next, I fill the Egg with charcoal to the top of the firebox and place 3-4 fist sized chunks of hickory (not soaked) on top and spaced evenly around the outer edge of the fuel. With the lower vent wide open and top up, I place a starter cube in the center of the charcoal and light it. I let the starter work with the top open while I go remove the prepped ribs from the refrigerator. This is a good time to arrange your ribs on the rack for cooking. I’ll cover the arrangement in more detail in the next section. In about 7-8 minutes, the charcoal is burning well. Once your fire is ignited, reassemble the Egg. If you have a plate setter, place it on top of the fire ring with legs facing up, place a drip pan on it, and place the regular cooking grid on the legs. If not, set up as you usually do for an INDIRECT cook. The main point is to get ceramic between the fire and the food. I use disposable 9″ x 13″ foil pans ($5.75 for twenty at Sam’s) as drip pans, BTW. At this point, the bottom vent is still wide open. Now close the lid on the Egg, leaving the top vent uncovered.
Part III- Cooking
By now you’re probably all thinkin’ that ol’ Jim’s done lost his mind and I would’ve thought the same thing a month or two ago!!! Cook ribs at 375Â°? What happened to 200-225Â°? Well, the pizza stone or place setter in the bottom of the Egg changed everything. So, just trust me and go with it!! It is extremely important to be sure your thermometer is reading the proper temp. Check it with the boiling water method if you have any doubts. If you haven’t already done so, now you will need to place your ribs in the rib rack. I prefer the el-cheapo Home Depot rib rack (about $8) over the inverted V-rack. It holds five racks of ribs easily and they can’t flop around as much. Place ribs in the rack and transfer to the Egg in the middle of the grill. If you have another rack or two of ribs, place them on the grill leaning them against the outer edge of the ribs in the rack taking care that all of the meat is protected by your drip pan.
Grab a cold beverage of your choice, or a glass of JD, and sit back for about 3-4 hours or so and watch the grass grow. DO NOT open the lid on the Egg for any reason!! I mean DO NOT even think about it, not never, not no how!!! The beauty of the Egg is the wonderful moisture retention quality and that is diminished by opening the lid, IMO. I never, ever, open the lid when cooking on the Egg until I feel the food should be done, or the Polder tells me to! OK, if you really feel the need to peek, go ahead! LOL. Close to 3 hours into the cook, check your ribs. The rub should have formed a nice crust and the meat should have pulled back about a Â¼” on the bone. Try to twist a rib off of one of the racks (careful! it’s hot!!). If you can pull one off easily, they are done. If not, close Egg and cook for another 15 minutes or until done.
Part IV- Serving
To serve the ribs, separate ribs into single bone pieces and place on a platter or in a pan. If your ribs are done properly, you should be able to pull them apart easily one rib at a time. You can use a knife to separate them if you like, but it should not be needed. Disposable foil pans work great for holding ribs if you are not going to eat right away (betcha can’t keep from nibblin’!!!). IMHO, ribs done properly should never need sauce and I don’t put any on mine. However, different strokes for different folks, as they say, so use sauce by all means if you want it. Apply sauce every 10 minutes during last half hour of cooking to prevent scorching. Enjoy!!!!