Baby back ribs are a favorite of mine, because they get the highest compliment rating for the least amount of work. For you acronym junkies, that’s a high CAW rating (Compliment to Amount of Work). Yes, I just made that up, but maybe someday, recipes the world over will include a little graph noting its CAW rating.
Here are the 4 simple steps to remember:
Simple. You only have to remember four R’s.
No. 1 — Rip ‘em
Rip off the membrane. This is important for ribs, but especially baby back ribs. The membrane is chewy, and some say can inhibit the smoke penetration. It’s mostly men that talk about smoke penetration, though, you know? But I digress. Removing the membrane is really easy. It’s on the bone side of the ribs. Take a spoon or knife and get a little piece of it separated. Then, with a paper towel, pull it off.
No. 2 — Rub ‘em
Use the rub of your choice. As you can see, I’ve used my cocoa bliss rub on these ribs. A shameless plug for my book, “She Smoke.” Yes, the recipe is in there.
No. 3 — Rack ‘em
For multiple racks, stack them sideways in a rib rack. I like to place them in every other slot so there is maximum…um, smoke penetration.
No. 4 — Regulate ‘em
Admittedly, a bit of a mouthful, but the most important of the four steps. Keep a constant 250°F for about 2-2.5 hours.
How do you do this?
Make a slow and low fire, indirect, and keep the lid closed! If you are cooking on gas, and no judgement there, maintaining a constant temperature will be pretty simple.
250°F is a little higher than I recommend for most barbecue, but baby backs don’t need as low temperatures as a brisket or spares. They don’t have as much tough connective tissue. I find that 250°F is the sweet spot temperature for them.
And as you know, if you’ve been paying attention, my baby backs always get a high CAW rating. Now a few things that didn’t fit into my neat little formula were wood chips or chunks and a finishing sauce at the end. To explain. Wood chips: Yes, do that. Create some smoke. If you are cooking on charcoal you won’t need as much as when cooking using gas or electric cookers. Finishing sauce: Brush on your favorite sauce in the last 30 minutes of cooking.
How do you know when they are done? I like the bend test the best. Racks should bend easily without falling apart.
Seriously every time I make baby back ribs at a party, people go nuts and all I can think of is how easy it was compared to anything else on the barbecue scale. Sure, smoked chicken thighs are something a 4-year old, were she allowed to play with fire, could do, but nobody cares about chicken thighs. And subsequently, they don’t get a high CAW rating.