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Pork Ribs 101

By Smokin' Okie

Prep

Yup, get those puppies ready. Take the membrane off the back (that's the papery thing that you get when you're eating the ribs, but you can't eat it). I take it off so my rub can penetrate the back. Use a simple butter knife or something without a point.

Taking off membrane using a blunt knife:

Removing membrane from pork ribs

Insert it over a rib bone and try to pry it up without ripping it. Takes some practice, but it's worth the effort. I start on the wide end, at the last rib and use a paper towel to get it off.

Rub

Now rub those puppies.

Apply Rub:

Seasoned pork ribs

If you need to on a lot of cuts, mustard does a great job of holding the rub on (and you won't taste it later -- really) I don't use mustard on my ribs, but I do on brisket and pulled pork. I cover the ribs completely. Put them in a pan and let them sit overnight if possible.

Cook

Cook those puppies. I set my Smokette for 225 and put the ribs in. I don't normally have to pre-heat it, just put them in. I put them in with the meat down for the first couple of hours.

Wood

What wood for those puppies? Well, we all have our preferences. For pork, I do nothing but apple or cherry, sometimes pecan (it's a stronger smoke, but it's great). Lots like hickory. Don't use mesquite -- too strong for pork for most people. Did you get the sampler kit with the smoker? Try the hickory if you can't find the apple/cherry.

WARNING!!! Don't over smoke them (lessons we all learned the first time we cooked) in the Smokette, for a couple of slabs, I wouldn't put more than 2 or 3 chunks your first time.

They're done when they're done

When will those puppies ever be done? They can be done in as little as three, and up to five or more hours. I'd suggest at the 3 hour point you open the door and check them out. I have some firemen's gloves and I pick mine up to see how they're doing. Look at them. When you pick the rack up is it falling apart or not, the rib meat will shrink back from the bone, that's normal.

Notice pullback from edge of bone:

Smoked pork ribs

If you want fall off the bone then just shake a rib bone, if they're not ready, put them back in and check them in 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat until you get what you want. You can always take them out, cut one off, eat it and throw them back in. At the three hour point, I'll generally flip them over (with the bone side up, grease will puddle there, yuk, get rid of it) I'll also spray them down with apple juice from now on whenever I open the door.

Finished Ribs:

Smoked slab of pork ribs

There are not too many set rules. Follow those, experiment and you'll have great success.

Finished Ribs (notice splitting skin):

Notice how the skin, instead of being smooth, starts "splitting" this is another sign they're ready to pull out and eat.
Slab of smoked pork ribs

Finished Ribs – Side view:

Let's Eat!

Sliced smoked pork ribs

Double Cut Ribs:
For something different, try a "double cut" The idea is that instead of cutting at each rib, cut the rib so the bone is in the middle and there is meat on both sides (thus, two cuts) and you get a bigger rib.
Double cut pork ribs

Keep good notes so you'll know what you did, what you didn't like and how to repeat it. Note the type of meat, the weight, etc.

Smokin Okie

It's done when it's done