Even though the 4th of July is over, there is no reason not to keep the festive spirit going. If there is one thing we can learn from the Americans, it’s how to use a barbecue. So, take advantage of the good weather, and enjoy the summer with friends and family. I simply love to spend summer evenings or sunny afternoons on the terrace, while I also man the grill. The sizzling sound from the grill and the smoke in the air, just equals summer at my house. If you want to do a true American barbecue, ribs are an absolute must! In this recipe, I will teach you to make the most mouthwatering ribs you have ever tasted!
The Big Easy® Smoker, Roaster & Grill
I‘ve recently had a delicious experience using this amazing grill with brined chicken. Let me remind you how perfect The Big Easy® Smoker, Fryer & Grill was from the Char-broil company. It made the grilling and smoking process so much easier and tastier too! With features like the TRU-Infrared, my honey glazed smoked ribs cooked perfectly. By that I mean, there was even distribution of heat, that made my ribs finger-licking good!
Features in Detail
Let me walk you through the features:
- Roaster – cooks any meat, weighing up to 11kg (25lbs). Can lift meat out easily!
- Grease Tray – captures all that excess grease that no one wants to clean up.
- Rotary Ignition – lights up the grill very quickly, you don’t have to wait forever.
- Grill Top – with removable stainless-steel cooking grate, you can grill literally anything without any flare ups.
What I love about the Char-broil company, is that you get a one year guarantee on the features of the The Big Easy® Smoker, Fryer & Grill, from your first date of purchase. So, no matter what happens, you‘ll always have that guarantee.
Select the ribs
Go to your local butcher to get your ribs. In a simple dish like this one, it is of utmost important that you select a good quality meat. I cannot stress that enough. In addition, I believe it’s important to support shops locally and my butcher has high quality meat from free range pigs.
Now as for the cuts of ribs, the most common options are either spareribs or baby back ribs. The baby back ribs are shorter and smaller than the spareribs, and the former will cook faster. Baby back ribs are located between the spine and the spare ribs.
The spareribs are bigger and a whole rack of them will be too much probably even for the hungriest of guests. They are from the belly side of the ribs cage. Also, you can get rib tips, which are from the lower end of spare ribs and are quite meaty and small. Finally, you’ve probably also heard of riblets, which is where the butcher cuts the spare ribs approximetly in half. Which is your favourite?
There are plenty of other options waiting out there for you. You can select between pork, beef, lamb and venison. Rack of lamb or care d’agneau is probably the most expensive. It is a beautiful cut with 16 ribs, cut perpendicular to the spine. Also, you’ve probably had short ribs before, not my favourite as it is a very small portion. You can have the flank cut (serves one), or the plate cut which serves more. In terms of beef, prime ribs would be best with a section of six to twelve beautiful ribs.
How to get the perfect meat texture
There are several key elements you need to worry about in order to get perfect smoked ribs. First, there is a thin membrane on the back side of the ribs, which needs removing before cooking. Otherwise, the membrane will sort of hold the meat together, making it difficult to separate the ribs when eating them. Some people prefer to keep it on, as it makes the ribs less likely to fall apart during the cooking process. It didn’t happen to me yet, but let me know about your experiences here.
Second, the ribs need to marinate overnight to tenderise the meat. Americans love to use mustard for this and you actually don’t need to be afraid that the flavour will be overpowering. Weirdly enough, the flavour of mustard will cook away during the process. This is also the part where you can apply the spices you want.
Once I was at a Michelin star restaurant in France and I ordered ribs from the menu. Of course, the setup was a bit fancier than our family barbecue, but the ribs were unbelievably tender. I was curious how the chef did it. The secret? Cover the ribs in yoghurt and let them sit in the fridge for two whole days. Apparently, the enzymes in the yoghurt softens the meat and make them extremely tender. If you have another trick up your sleeve then please let me know!
Honey is classic when it comes to barbecue. This ingredient caramelises beautifully and turns the meat golden and crispy on the outside. Plus, honey is good at making the flavour stick. So, you can infuse your honey glaze with the spices you want to season the meat with. I like to use chili powder, black pepper and sweet paprika, but the possibilities here are endless. You can also put a twist on the glaze by using a different type of honey. Some honeys are very mild and others almost spicy, depending on what type of flowers the bees raided.
Try something new
Instead of honey, you can try using agave syrup or maple syrup, as the sweet sticky element. Both, will caramelise and give you the sweet, sticky golden surface you want your ribs to have. Some cooks even use a combination of honey, melted butter and apple juice! Apparently, this will make it even more tender and juicy.
Toppings and serving
Smoked ribs are quite filling on their own, so I normally keep the sides simple. A green salad, a grilled tomato and perhaps a bit of coleslaw is enough to complete the dish. Sprinkle the ribs with some chopped spring onions for some freshness. If you’re really hungry served baked potato or sweet potatoes fries on the side.
Let’s face it. For this type of barbecue dish, a wine is not the best companion. However, beer and barbecue go hand in hand. For the smoked ribs a light pilsner type beer, or perhaps a pale ale, will work. More hops in the flavour will bring out the sweetness of the ribs. There are so many small new breweries popping up all over the place these days so there is a lot to choose from. This means, that beer doesn’t need to be a boring standardised thing anymore – you can get all sorts of interesting flavour combinations.
- 2 racks of brined pork ribs, weighing around 1kg (2lbs)
- Salt and pepper
- Hickory wood chips
- 60ml (4 tbsp) honey
- For a very basic brining method, check out my How To Brine Chicken article.
- After the ribs have been brined overnight, pat them dry and season well.
- Preheat the Char-Broil Big Easy Smoker on the High setting and fill the smoking box with wood chips.
- Wait for 10 minutes until the chips begin to smoke, then change the heat setting to Low.
- Hang the ribs on hooks and let them hang on the side of the smoking basket. Place the basket inside the smoker.
- Close lid and cook until the ribs’ internal temperature is 68°C (155°F). This takes about 60 minutes.
- Remove the ribs from the smoker and wrap them in foil, letting them rest for about 15 minutes.
- Finish them off on a hot grill while slathering some honey on them. Enjoy!
- Because of the temperature discrepancy between the top and bottom area inside the smoker, you might find it worthwhile to remove the ribs halfway through cooking. Place the hooks at the bottom end of the ribs and place them back in the smoked “upside down”. That way, both ends will get evenly cooked.
- When I started out I tried slathering all kinds of sauces on the ribs but the higher the sugar content, the quicker it burnt. My advice? Smoke the ribs plain in the gadget and finish them off on the grill with your sauce of choice. A lot less mess and no burning either. Live and learn!
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 675
- Sugar: 17.5 g
- Sodium: 597 mg
- Fat: 19.4 g
- Saturated Fat: 5.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 27.8 g
- Protein: 83.5 g
- Cholesterol: 233 mg
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A special thanks to Kelly Reeve for assisting with the recipe shoot.