When I met Mike, he didn’t eat pork, or hamburger, or steak. I loved him anyway. I didn’t necessarily understand how he could not like bacon, but he had so many other great traits, I decided to overlook this one oddity. More bacon for me, I figured.
Fast forward seven years. Not only does Mike now enjoy hamburgers topped with bacon, he has developed the most delicious baby back rib recipe and it is frequently in the dinner rotation at our house. They are great for potlucks also, always get raves reviews, and sometimes even requests.
It’s a pretty simple recipe, but it does require some planning as the seasoned ribs sit overnight then bake and smoke for several hours. First step is to buy the ribs. Trader Joe’s has some excellent baby backs, but anywhere that sells quality meat will work.
The first step is to remove the backstrap. To me, it’s a disgusting process, but he is quite adept at it (more so than I am at taking pictures of it). There are plenty of videos on YouTube showing how to do this, check them out if you want to learn the technique.
Next he rubs the ribs with a dry rub made of three parts kosher salt, one part each of black pepper, brown sugar, and garlic powder. Wrap them in plastic or foil and refrigerate overnight, your house will smell like garlic every time you open the refrigerator door.
The cooking process begins with placing the ribs in a baking pan, bathing them in about a half of bottle of beer (give or take), cover with foil and bake in a 250 degree oven for about 4 hours. Don’t waste your favorite craft brew for the cooking, any brand will do, use up that boring domestic brand you have left over from the last beer non-connoisseur who brought it when they visited.
After baking, transfer the ribs to a smoker grill for about 2 hours. Mike puts a pan of water mixed with juice in the smoker to keep the moisture in the meat. Use a disposable pan or you will be sorry when you try to wash the water pan. Trust me.
Sometimes he will brush the ribs lightly with a barbeque sauce near the end of the smoking period, but it rarely is necessary. The rub and smoking impart such depth of flavor, they need nothing else, except maybe to be paired with a hoppy craft brew. Don’t bother with a knife at your place setting, these ribs will fall off the bone.