2 – 1/2 – 1/2 Ribs

The weather over the holiday weekend didn’t exactly cooperate and I found myself with just a short break in the rain to do a rack of ribs. I had been planing to do the rack with the 2-1-1- method, but it didn’t look like I had that kind of time. So I kept the technique, but bumped up the temperature to shorten the cook.

1 rack of baby back ribs
Rub of your choice
Sauce of your choice

Set your grill up for a raised direct cook at medium-ish heat (325°F). On the Big Green Egg this meant barely filling the fire ring with lump charcoal and using an extender to raise the cooking grate further from the heat.

While the grill is heating up, dust your ribs generously on both sides with rub (Dizzy Pig’s Dizzy Dust in this case).

When the grill is ready, add your smoking wood (guava this time) and wait until the smoke turns from white (bad) to blue (good). Than arrange your rack on the cooking grate bone side down. Close the lid and let them cook for 2 hours.

Lay out a sheet of heavy-duty foil big enough to wrap the rack in and pour 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce (cheap store brand this time) down the middle of it. Put rack on foil meat side down. Wrap tightly and return to grill for 1/2 hour.

Remove ribs from foil and put back on grill meat side up. Sauce ribs and let cook another 1/2 hour, until meat has pulled back from the ends of the bones and is very tender.

Ribs

Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

The Verdict: ★★★★½
I was afraid the extra heat would dry out the ribs, but they were tender and tasty. Funny thing is that I was in such a rush to get the ribs on that I forgot to remove the membrane on the bone side. Normally this is a no-no as it can get tough and unpleasant to eat, but the extra heat crisped the membrane to the point that it was almost like skin on a chicken. It gave a nice extra bit of texture and it seemed like it helped to hold the juices in.

I did have to dock myself 1/2 a star for the store-bought sauce. Not a winner.

Chicken Kabobs

I’ve been looking for a simple chicken marinade and found a 4-ingredient one over at NoBIGGIE. Of course I had to play around with it a little bit, but that’s part of the joy of cooking.

8 chicken thighs, boneless/skinless
1/2 cup raw or brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce
1-2 tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce
4 flat, wooden skewers

Make the marinade by combining the brown sugar, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and hot sauce. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

Put the thighs in a zip-top bag and pour the marinade over them. Turn to coat, then squeeze the air out of the bag, seal it up, and stash in the fridge for at least 4 hours (overnight is even better). Turn the bag every so often to make sure all the pieces get a coated in the marinade.

Set your grill up for a direct cook over high (400°F) heat. Put the skewers in a pan of water to soak.

When the grill is ready, thread two thighs onto each skewer. Grill chicken about 10 minutes per side or until the internal temp hits at least 180°F and the meat gets a good crispy char on it.

Chicken Kabobs

Remove the skewers from the grill and let rest 10 minutes before serving. I put these over some sesame noodles and roasted peppers.

The Verdict: ★★★★☆
I really liked the tangy, sweetness that the marinade gave the chicken. Adding the Sriracha gave it a nice bump of heat.  But I don’t know that the oil really brought anything to the party other than some flare ups. Next time I would skip the peanut oil and go with maybe a couple of tablespoons of sesame oil.

Country-Style Ribs

Not really ribs, country-style ribs are thick slabs of meaty goodness cut from the shoulder of the of the pig. It’s a complicated cut of meat with lots of fat and connective tissue, so they really lend themselves for a little low and slow smoking followed by by a braise until they melt.

1 pound country-style pork ribs
Barbecue rub of choice
2 cups apple juice
1/2 cup barbecue sauce of choice

Season ribs on all sides with a generous coating of rub (Plowboys Yardbird in the case). Stash in fridge while you set up the grill.

Set the grill up for an indirect cook over medium (300°F) heat. On the Big Green Egg is used the plate settler to diffuse the heat and raise my cooking grate about 4 inches.

Add your smoking wood (apple this time) to the grill and when the grill reaches 300°F and the smoke has turned blue, add a drip pan to the plate setter, and arrange the ribs on the cooking grate. Close the lid and let them cook, flipping every 30 minutes, until they reach 160°F internal (about an hour and a half).

Move the ribs off to a flame-proof pan roasting pan and cover with the apple juice. Turn ribs to coat and move the pan full of ribs back to the grill. Close the lid and let cook for an hour.

Check the ribs for doneness – they should be around 190°F internal and the meat should fall apart when you poke at it with a fork. Remove the ribs to a platter to let them rest. Reserve any juices that are still left in the pan.

country ribsI

Pour reserved juices and barbecue sauce together in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes to thicken.

Serve the ribs with sauce on the side.

The Verdict: ★★★★☆
Very tasty – really like the extra sweetness from the apple juice, but not as juicy as I would have liked. I think these might benefit from being sealed in foil for the final part of the cook.