Much of what I know about making ribs I owe to “Car Wash Mike” McKernan and his postings on the Big Green Egg forum. Mike recently passed away, and while I never met the man, I thought it fitting to join the rest of the Eggheads in smoking a batch of baby backs in his honor.
I started with 3 racks of baby back ribs. These were a little smaller than the ones I usually get from Costco, and looked to already have had the membrane removed. I rubbed both sides of each rack with Dizzy Pig’s Dizzy Dust about 2 hours before they went on the smoker.
I set up my Big Green Egg for an indirect cook at 250°F – filling the firebox with lump charcoal and using an inverted plate setter to diffuse the heat and a drip pan with a little water in it to catch the fat.
I lit the charcoal just in the center, and once the temperature hit 300°F in the dome, I tossed in a a couple of chunks of crab apple for smoke. I added the plate setter, drip pan and grate, then adjusted the vents until the temperature settled at 250°F.
I arranged the ribs bone side down on the grate, then closed the lid and let the BGE do it’s magic for an hour. I flipped the ribs bone side up, and let them go for another hour. I flipped them back bone side down and let them go for another 2 hours.
After the ribs had been on 4 hours total, I started checking for doneness. Ribs are generally done when a full slab will almost fold in half and start to crack when you pick up one end with a pair of tongs. These weren’t there yet, but the meat had really started to pull back from the end of the bones and it looked like it wouldn’t take much to pull a bone right out of the ribs.
I flipped a rack over and discovered that the bone side was covered with that membrane that I’d thought had been removed. Oops. It was all brown and crispy now. I grabbed one corner with the tongs and pulled it off – underneath was the juiciest rib meat I’ve ever seen.
I lifted the end of the slab and it almost fell apart. These ribs were well done and it had only been the membrane that was holding them together. I quickly removed the membrane from the other 2 racks and moved all of them off the Egg and onto a jelly roll pan. I sauced them on both sides with a little Sticky Pig Barbecue Sauce and told our guests we’d be eating a little sooner than expected.
The lesson? There are a lot of great teachers out there. Take their advice, but don’t be afraid to make your own mistakes and then pass the experience along.