How to Smoke Barbecue Pork Ribs
There are so many different ways of preparing barbecue pork ribs. You can opt to have them tender, crispy and crunchy, spicy, sticky or sweet. You can decide to sauce them or not, it is all up to you.
Here is how you can make some tasty barbecue pork ribs.
- Racks of ribs/ baby back ribs
- Electric Smoker
- Rib rub for pork
- Fuel for the smoker
- Wood chunks
- Meat thermometer
- Heavy duty aluminium foil, only if you plan to wrap them
- Barbecue sauce, just in case you intend to sauce the ribs
- Knife, a large sharp one
Steps to make Smoke Barbecue Pork Ribs
1. Prepare the Electric Smoker
You have to set your electric smoker to be able to hold a temperature of around 225°F/110°C for about 6 hours. Therefore, make sure you have plenty of fuel for a strong and durable fire. This is because you will need a very strong smoke at the beginning of the cooking and towards the end.
You can achieve this easily by adding wood chunks to the smoker before putting the ribs in. This will let it hold the right temperature throughout the cooking.
2. Prepare the Pork Ribs
Always look for thick meaty ribs and avoid those that are lopsided or thin on one side and thick on the other side. Therefore, get a full rack of pork ribs, with an even level of thickness on both sides and remember to trim off any loose pieces of fat or meat.
Moreover, the most important part of trimming a rack of pork ribs is removing the membrane. A membrane is a skin layer on the bone side of the rack. It usually makes the pork ribs tough and blocks any flavor and smoke from reaching the meat.
You can remove the membrane with a blunt knife. Start from one end of the rack of pork ribs, working your way along the surface of the last bone. Use a paper towel to grab hold of it and peel. It can take some time but it is usually an easy task.
3. Pork Rub
You can pick any form of pork rib rub from spicy, savoury or sweet. Add any of them before putting the pork rib on the smoker, the flavor will sink in slowly as it cooks. However, do not apply the rub earlier, do it when the pork ribs are trim and your smoker is hot and ready.
Besides, the rub should stick to the meat, so apply as much as you can overall on the rack and be careful how you handle the ribs from now on, to avoid the falling of the rub.
4. Place Rack of Pork Ribs on Smoker
Make sure you put the pork ribs at the centre of the smoker, for an even flow of air all around the ribs and the smoker. Moreover, make sure your barbecue pork ribs get an even exposure to heat. So deal with any hot spots on your smoker before cooking.
In addition, if your smoker does not have enough space, you can buy a rib rack and place the pork ribs on their sides. Do not stretch the rack, as meat usually shrinks as it cooks. Besides, the rack stretch can increase the toughness of the meat.
5. Wrap the Pork Ribs
Depending, on how you want you pork ribs. You can start by cooking them unwrapped for 3 hours and then tightly wrap them for 2 hours and finish off without a wrap. Use aluminium heavy-duty foil.
This method allows the ribs to have 4 hours of smoke exposure and steam on their own juices for 2 hours. The result is usually a fall off the bone kind of pork ribs with some tenderness.However, if you want the pork ribs to stick to their bones then skip the aluminium foil wrapping.
A full rack of ribs usually takes up to 6 hours to smoke. However, if you are using baby back ribs and want to wrap them, reduce the first unwrap phase to 2 hours. It should take 5 hours to cook.
6. Barbecue Sauce
When the ribs are about to cook look for an internal temperature of 170°F/75°C and start to prepare it for serving, crispy or tender. Smoked ribs usually have a tender surface but if you want them crispy, just remove them from the food smoker and place them in a high level of direct heat for 2 minutes.
After which, you can sauce it when it has cooled and returned it to the smoker for a bit, for the sauce to sink. You can also apply the sauce and just serve as the smoker can at times soften its crispy surface.
However, if you do not want it crisped, apply the sauce towards the end of the cooking. If you opted to wrap it, just apply the sauce immediately you remove the foil.
In relation, by saucing and continuing to smoke it, you will only get more smoke into the sauce, making the pork ribs sticky, avoid this by adding more and more sauce. For smoke flavor, add more wood.
7. Cut and Serve the Pork Ribs
Let the pork ribs rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving. Set them standing on the meaty side and use a sharp knife to carve the rack between the bones.
However, if it is the fall off the bone kind of tender pork ribs, just lay them on a board and make the cuts slowly, as they tend to tear up quickly and easily rather than cut.
In conclusion, always take note of how you smoke your pork ribs and how they come out be, it tender, not tender enough, too spicy or sweet. This allows you to make the necessary adjustment, the next time you cook.