Serving up ribs at a backyard barbecue during the summer is one of the true joys of being a Pit-master. Everyone loves ribs (even if they don’t, they sure do eat a lot of them when the platter is sitting out). When they’re cooked right, they will bring the masses to their knees. One of the problems we run into from time to time is a customer that has a nice gas grill but no smoker and doesn’t have the budget or want to spend the money to buy a standalone pit. If that’s you, don’t worry, we’ll have you smoking amazing ribs in no time flat...
HERE'S WHAT YOU'LL NEED
Stainless Steel Smoker Box
If you’re cooking on a Napoleon gas grill (our fave), you’ll need their stainless smoker box or cast iron charcoal tray. If you’re cooking on another brand, a generic stainless smoker box will do the trick.
STEPS FOR SMOKED RIBS
Insert the stainless smoker box or charcoal tray under the grill’s grates on one side of the cooker, setting it on the metal bars that cover your grill’s burners. Fill it with wood chips, pour one cup of water on the chips and close the hinged lid of the box. If you’re using Napoleon’s cast iron charcoal tray, you’ll fill the majority of the tray with charcoal and put wood chips in the small corner designated for wood.
Do not soak the chips ahead of time; the idea here is to keep the chips from catching fire, not to soak them until they smolder. We want to produce thin blue smoke, so they will need to burn up fairly quickly. Simply refill the wood chips as needed during the cook. What’s most important is getting smoke into the ribs for the first two hours of the cook.
Close the lid on the smoker box or charcoal tray and put the grate back in place (or leave it off if you have the space; this makes refilling chips easy). Ignite the burner that your smoker box is resting on, put your rib rack in place if using, and close the lid of your grill. Do not ignite any other burners. We do not want direct heat under the ribs. The single burner that is burning the wood chips will provide the chamber with the perfect amount of heat to cook the ribs. Rub with Your Favorite Rib Rub Seasoning
While the grill is heating up you will prep your ribs by trimming off any excess fat and pulling the papery membrane from the bone side of the ribs. Apply a small amount of yellow mustard to the ribs and rub with your favorite rib rub. We like: Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub, R Butts R Smokin’ Honey Chipotle Rub, or Cattleman's Grill Road House Rub.
Your grill will now be nice and hot. Take a little time and adjust the burner so that your grill is holding steady between 225ºF and 250ºF. Once you get the heat where you want it, place your ribs on your rib rack and close the grill lid. If not using a rib rack, place the ribs on the grill with the meatier side facing up and close the lid. This is where it’s good to have something else to do because your grill won’t need much help maintaining heat or producing smoke. After an hour come back and check on the wood chips. If they need to be refilled, do so. Don’t forget to pour some water over the top, we don’t want them to catch fire and burn up too fast.
After a couple hours, check on the ribs and make sure your smoker box still has wood chips. If you want more smoke flavor, you can refill the box now, but if you like a more mild smoke there is no need to worry about it. At this point in the cook, the rib meat should start to pull away from the bone. Test for tenderness by trying to move one of the bones toward the center of a rack. It will still be tough to move at this point, but after a couple more hours it will start to swivel in place and the rack of ribs will no longer feel springy.
This is a sign that the connective tissue in the meat has started to break down. Once the bone swivels freely and the meat around the bone stays in place your ribs are done. Pull them off and let them rest for a half hour before slicing them up. This will make slicing much easier as the juice in the ribs will redistribute back into the meat from the surface.
Slice the Ribs, Serve with BBQ Sauce, and ENJOY!
Slice the ribs with a nice sharp knife. Having a Victorinox 10.25” Granton Edge Slicer will make this especially easy as the knife will move through the ribs like butter and the granton edge will release the meat without tearing your bark apart on each cut. Serve these ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce like Kozlik’s Maple Whiskey BBQ Sauce, Firebug Mild Grilling Sauce or Plowboys Sweet 180 BBQ Sauce. Enjoy!