As many a pork lover among us will testify, ribs are one of the juiciest, most flavorful type of meat you can sink your teeth into. They taste great grilled or boiled with beans, but what brings out their distinct flavor the most is a good old fashioned smoking. Not that you should do it the old-fashioned way now that we have excellent electric smokers at our disposal.
Before actually cooking anything, you’ll want to prepare both the meat and the smoker. Start by cutting up the membranes in the ribs and rubbing them down the night before with a dry rub and let them absorb that until it is time to start smoking. Before you use the machine, make sure it is oiled up and cleaned properly. The heating element and the clay rocks should be completely dry, and the wood chips should be wet so they don’t catch fire during the smoking process.
When dealing with ribs, a good rule of thumb is to apply the 3-2-1 method if you’re cooking two racks or more, and modify that to 2-2-1 if there’s only one smaller rack. So, expect the meat to be ready in 5-6 hours time with only minimal intervention required on your part. It would be ideal to check the smoker’s temperature from time to time using a thermometer rod.
The 3-2-1 method
Start by preheating your smoker to about 225 degrees Fahrenheit and then put the ribs directly onto the rack. Smoke them continuously for 3 hours. This first part is also when you should be using the most smoke since the ribs’ flavor will be enhanced without them becoming too smoky. As time goes on, reduce the smoke.
Next, wrap the ribs in aluminum foil and add a little beer or apple juice into the newly formed container so the steam it lets off helps tenderize the meat. Put the ribs back into the smoker and let them be for another two hours.
You’re almost done. After the two hours have passed, take the ribs out again and coat them on both sides with a generous dose of your favorite BBQ sauce. This step is actually optional since the meat has enough flavor now even without the sauce, so if you aren’t a fan just take the ribs out of the foil and let them smoke directly on the rack again for another hour. Once the suggested time passes, you should have mouth-watering ribs with meat falling off of the bones.
If you want to tinker with the ribs’ flavor even more, make sure to get the right kind of wood chips. Go for fruit tree chips if you want a milder, subtly sweet flavor. If you prefer a stronger presence, go for mesquite, but make sure you combine it with another type of chip since it can leave a bitter taste if used on its own.
Naturally, make the recipe unique by applying your own seasonings and serving with some of your favorite side dishes. Regardless of individual style, if you follow what we’ve outlined here, the ribs should be tender and taste heavenly!