When I first decided to cook ribs for the weekend, it was a balmy 19°F and I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. By Saturday an arctic airmass had dropped in. When I took the ribs off the Egg for dinner it was 2°F and I was wearing my barbecue gloves more to protect against freezing than flames.
But I was dying to try out my new Sticky Hog barbecue sauce, so I turned the other frostbitten cheek to my wife’s concern, bundled up, and treated it as one of those “character building” experiences.
I set up my Big Green Egg for a direct cook at 225 to 250°F. I didn’t use a heat diffuser or drip pan, but I did set my grate on a Woo 2 to give me another 8 inches of clearance above the firebox. So the ribs wouldn’t get too crispy, filled my firebox about 3/4 of the way up and made sure I had a uniform layer of well- packed lump charcoal.
While the Egg was heating up, I seasoned the ribs with a generous coating of Dizzy Pig’s Dizzy Dust into both sides.
Once the fire was well-established across the entire firebox – giving me a low, even heat – I added a couple of chunks of smoking wood (guava and apple this time) and adjusted the vents to bring the temperature at the grate down to 225°F.
I arranged the ribs bone side down on the grate, closed the lid, and let them smoke undisturbed for an hour. I flipped them meat side down. I let them cook for another hour. I flipped them again so they were meat side up and let them cook until they had been on 4-1/2 hours total.
I started checking for doneness. Doneness with ribs is determined more by feel than it is by time or temp. A slab of ribs that are done will “break” or almost fold in half and start to crack when you pick up one end with a pair of tongs. The meat should also have pulled back from the bone at least half an inch from the end of the bones and tugging on a bone should show that it’s ready to come apart.
One of the racks was done at 4 1/2 hours, but the other two where lagging behind, so I slid the larger racks together, stacked the little one on top to protect it from the heat, and let them cook for another 30 minutes.
All of the racks where done at about 5 hours. I flipped them bone side up and brushed them with Sticky Hog barbecue sauce and let them cook for another 15 minutes. I flipped them meat side up sauced them again and let them cook for another 15 minutes. I gave them one last light coat of sauce, removed them from the smoker, and let them sit 10 minutes before serving.
My dear wife proclaimed these to be the best ribs I’ve ever made. I thought they were just a touch dry, but who am I to argue with her ;). Doing them raised over direct heat makes them more crisp than tender. They didn’t fall off the bone, but they did surrender gracefully to the bite.
The sauce was pretty remarkable on the meat as well. It stuck (froze?) right to the racks and tightened up into a nice glaze. The tangy sweetness really complimented the meat. This is definitely a keeper sauce.