Baby Back Ribs

In Seattle, you don’t have the luxury of waiting for a bright, sunny, summery day to fire up the grill and barbecue. We went up north to Lake Stevens to spend time with friends on a particularly drizzly and dark weekend a few months back. We had a hankering for barbecue and decided on Smoked Ribs from America’s Test Kitchen. David and Dan took the reins on dinner while Jeri and I went out in search of some retail therapy. Hours later, the rain was coming down hard (especially for Seattle standards) and we came home to a smokey and comforting smell that made us put on our sweats and break out the board games.We spent the rest of the afternoon cuddled up on porch, playing board games and listening to the rain, while we smelled the ribs slowly smoking over the fire. I’d take a rainy barbecue day like today over a sunny, hot cookout any day (I do realize that’s odd). Jeri made the most incredible salad with fresh cilantro that paired perfectly with the smokiness of the ribs. At one point we were all raving about the salad so much that someone said, “you know the salad’s amazing when you’re eating home-smoked ribs and you still keep talking about how damn good the salad is”. Long story short, don’t wait for the perfect day to cook barbecue, let the barbecue dictate that when that perfect day will be.

Serves 4-6, depending on who is eating at your table. Adapted From America’s Test Kitchen

  • Table Salt
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 2-pound racks of Baby Back or Loin Back Ribs, membrane removed
  • 2 cups Wood Chips, we chose hickory
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon Sweet Paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Chili Powder
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dark Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon Oregano, dried
  • 3/4 teaspoon Black Pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon White Pepper, ground
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • Vegetable Oil for the grill grate

1. Dissolve 1/2 cup salt and the sugar in 4 quarts cold water in a large bowl or container. Submerge the ribs in the brine, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove the ribs from the brine, rinse under running water, and pat dry with paper towels. Soak the wood chips in cold water to cover for 30 min; drain.

2. Combine the paprika, chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, 2/4 teaspoon salt, oregano, black pepper, white pepper, and cayenne in a small bowl. Rub each rack with 1 tablespoon of the spice rub and refrigerate for 3o minutes.

3. Place the chips in a disposable aluminum pie plate and place the pie plate on top of the primary burner (the burner that will stay on during the cooking). Turn all the burners to high and heat the grill with the lid down, until very hot and the chips are smoking heavily, about 20 minutes (if the chips ignite, extinguish the flames with water from a spray bottle). Use a grill brush to scrape the cooking grate clean. Dip a wad of paper towels in the oil; holding the wad with tongs, oil the grill grate. Turn off all burners except the primary burner.

4. Place the ribs on the cooler side of the grill and cover (the temperature inside the grill should be about 275 degrees, so adjust the lit burner as necessary). Cook the ribs until the meat easily pulls away from the bone. Every 30 minutes, flip the racks and switch their position so that the rack that was nearest the fire is on the outside, and turning the racks 180 degrees. They should cook for at least 4 hours. After letting the ribs rest for 15 minutes, transfer the ribs to a carving board and slice between the bones. If you’d like barbecue sauce with your ribs (although not necessary), I would recommend my sauce from my pulled pork recipe.

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