Smoking Ribs

i love living up north.  The seasons generally follow one another in a sensible progression.  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.  Like most things up here…constant, dependable.

Not like down in southwestern Ontario.  i love our home town of London, don’t get me wrong.  It is a beautiful city and you can grow pretty much anything successfully there.  Great schools and other such services.  Tons of great eating places.

But i do not miss the weather.  As i watch the weather and see more of the same:  snow, rain, freezing rain, slush…lots of slush.  Slush that jams the snowblower.  Slush that sticks to everything and is tracked into vehicles and homes.  YUCK!

Give me a fresh spread of snow until March and i am good to go.  There  are tons of snowmobile, snowshoe, and cross country ski trails (mountains are in short supply round these parts).  I do not use the trails myself, but it is a beautiful sight.  Nature at rest.

So this is what i woke to not long ago.

Cold, crisp, fresh air…beautiful snow covering up the earth’s scars…and glorious quiet.  Nature’s quiet, filled with potential until things warm enough for feeder activity.  Ahhhh.

i love to smoke stuff in the winter.  i find the familiar smells of summer bring me a kind of emotional boost, every bit as strengthening as a day of sunshine.

There it is.  My primary smoker.  Isn’t it beautiful?  We bought it a couple of years ago and i have never regretted the purchase.  i have an old, barely holding together, Weber Bullet smoker.  I have great service from my Weber, but it is almost finished.  I use it mostly for cold smoking cheese and such.

This one is made by Backwoods Smokers and it is a monster, using much less charcoal, and producing superior, dependable results.  I set up the smoker with charcoal, check the water pan is full enough, and fire it up.

While that heats up, we can prepare the ribs.

First…and most important, let’s get rid of that membrane on the back of the ribs.  It is tough as a rubber boot and does not soften with cooking.  Yuck.

So slip a butter knife under that membrane.  Just loosen it a bit and grab it with a paper towel, as it will be slippery, and then just tear it away  from the meat and bones.  You can see what it looks like.  Try to remove the whole membrane.  Once you do it a few times it is easy peasy.

I am doing these Cajun style.  I will include the recipe, as it is a good mix that i developed over time.  Almost perfect, but seems short on something.  If you want to salt your ribs lightly, do it now and rub it into the meat and let it sit for about 15 minutes.

None of my rubs contain salt as per Meathead’s directions.  Salt can dry out the meat, especially thinner cuts like pork ribs, so salt your meat earlier with an appropriate amount.

Meathead is a chef who has a pay site called Amazing Ribs.  Anything he does not know about bbq and smoking will be answered by someone in the forums.  They have tons of well-tested recipes and technique tips.

This is his book, which is my go-to for bbq and grilling.  Again, i receive no benefits from letting you know this.  It is just a great site and the book contains a lot of food science -why things do the things they do- as well as dispelling a lot of myths in the process.

After your salt soaks in, sprinkle with Cajun rub.  Let that sit for a few minutes.  Flip and nail the other side with more rub.  Don’t be crazy, but be generous.

See how it changes colour as it sits on the meat?  Some guys rub the meat with yellow mustard (it leaves no taste, which is weird) so the rub will stick better.  i do not.

I then rub the spices firmly into the meat.  Every crack and crevice.  This keeps the spice on the meat instead of dripping through the grill.

Smoker is ready, so in they go.  I wear rubber gloves when working with spices, as they can beat up my skin pretty well.  But do not touch anything hot with them.  Melted plastic on skin is not good.

I use welding mitts for the hot stuff.  They are cheaper than the fancy bbq mitts and work better.  Welders know something about hot stuff.  Go figure.

Four racks of baby backs into the smoker.  i add wood to the coals (hickory this time) and let it smoke.  The water pan keeps the temperature of the smoker at just below boiling.  Slow and moist.  Yum.

They are in for four or five hours.  All connective tissue and fat breaks down and melts into the meat.  You will notice the meat pulls away from the ends of the bones when they are getting done.  If you slightly bend the rack and the meat begins to split, you are good to go.

Yum.  ed and Tricia are coming for dinner.  i leave them covered in the fridge overnight.  I will take them out, put some of my Jack Daniel’s bbq sauce on them and give them a quick bake in about 400F oven.  10-15 min usually.  If you put a pan of water in beforehand, while the oven is warming, the air will be moist and prevent the ribs from drying out.

any questions, just ask…i’m new at this photo recipe stuff,

Smokin’ John

Cajun Rub


1/3 Cup paprika

2 tablespoons oregano, dry

2 tablespoons basil, dry

1 tablespoons thyme, dry

1 Tablespoon rosemary

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 Tablespoon cayenne

1 Tablespoon white pepper

1 teaspoon mustard seed

1 Tablespoon black pepper

2 tablespoons onion granules

1 Tablespoon chilli powder

1 Tablespoon celery seed

4 Bay leaves


I grind all the ingredients together and store them in a tight container.

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