Smoked Baby Back Ribs with Honey & Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce
Kamado grills, like Char-Broil’s® new Kamander™, are easily my favorite type of charcoal grills. Needless to say, I was excited to try mine out as soon as I got it this spring. I’ve fired it hot and fast for juicy steaks and crispy pizzas and run it low and slow for delicious BBQ, like this platter of smoked baby back ribs and brisket.
Prep 2 racks pork baby back ribs. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs (see Notes/Substitutions). Lightly oil each of the ribs with a tablespoon of high temp cooking oil (canola, peanut, avocado, etc) and season the ribs liberally all over. Let rest for 1 hour while you set up and preheat your smoker.
Set up your grill for indirect heat and preheat to 275-300°F.
If using a kamado-style smoker/grill:
Fill up the fire bowl with lump charcoal mixed with 4 to 6 chunks of wood. Top and lower vent controls should be open all of the way (Position 5). Light the coal, place the drip pan/heat deflector in position, insert the grill grate, and shut the lid. When the cooking temps reach 200°F, shut both vents to halfway between Positions 1 and 2. As the temps rise to 250-275°F, keep shutting the vent controls a little bit at a time so you “coast” up to the 275-300°F range. For a charcoal grill, bank your coals and wood around the edges of the charcoal grate with a drip pan in the middle. I’d recommend using fuse or snake burn by lighting one end of the coal and letting it burn around the drip pan.
If using a four burner gas grill:
Use the outer two burners to maintain your temps into the 275-300°F range. Add wood chip filled smoker box above one of the lit burners about 10-15 minutes before the ribs go on the grill.
Smoke the ribs. Place the ribs, meat side facing up, on the smoker/grill so that they are not directly above the heat. Spritz lightly with the apple juice, close the lid and let cook for 2 to 6 hours. Spritz the ribs again 1 hour and 2 hours after putting them on the grill. Otherwise, keep your lid closed!
Braise the ribs. Place a sheet of foil down on a flat surface. Imagine a rib in the center of that foil and in the area where that rib will be, sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, squirt 3 lines of squeeze butter, and drizzle 2 tablespoons of honey. Place a rib meat side down on the foil. Repeat the sugar, butter, and honey on top of the rib (bone side). Fold the edges of the foil up and pour 1/4 cup of apple juice into the foil packet. Fold one edge of foil over the rib, the other edge over that, and then fold the ends up so your rib is now tightly wrapped in a foil envelope. Repeat with the other rib. Place back on the smoker/grill for 1 1/2 – 5 hours.
Make the sauce. Add all of the sauce ingredients in a small pan, stir together, and bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
Check the ribs. Carefully take a rib out of the foil pack. The bone tips should be sticking out and the ribs should feel flexible in your hands. If not, put them back into the foil and braise them another 30 minutes and re-check. Alternatively, you can just put them back on the grill meat side up and let them finish without the foil packs but it will take a little longer.
Finish the ribs. Press inwards between the rib bones – this will free up any sticking portions so the tips stick out evenly….or mostly even. Glaze the top and bottom of the ribs with the warm BBQ sauce. Place the ribs back onto the smoker/grill long enough for the sauce to “set”, about 10-15 minutes. You want active smoke during this time, so if you need to, replenish your wood chunks/chips and do so directly where the fire is burning.
Slice and serve! It’s easiest to slice the ribs when a sharp knife while they are meat side down on a cutting board. This way you can see the direction of the bones and cut between them.