Recipe Source: Original, with inspiration from various sources on the Green Egg Forum (www.greeneggers.com)
With Jess away for the long weekend, I was on my own for food. Given that it was Memorial Day weekend, the weather was supposed to be gorgeous, and I was planning to spend most of the weekend in the yard getting the vegetable garden in order, it seemed like a great chance to try out some new things on the Big Green Egg. On Friday night, I just prepared a nice rib-eye steak. Nothing too fancy, but tasty nonetheless, though the great weather predictably turned to rain as soon as I lit the fire. While I was at the supermarket procuring said steak, I noticed that they had some small portions of beef back ribs at a great price. Since I was just cooking for myself, I decided to pick these up and see what I could do with them.
Since we bought the Big Green Egg, I had been meaning to try some ribs, but since they take a long time to cook, they require advance planning so I’ve never gotten around to trying them. When I got them home, I checked our BBQ cookbooks and the Green Egg Forum looking for ideas, but most of what I was able to find referred to pork ribs. I wasn’t sure how well these would translate, so I soaked in the various ideas and made something up.
I decided to cook them mostly dry, with just a mop sauce applied once per hour while they cooked. For the mop, I used a 1:1 mix of Jack Daniels and cider vinegar – I had seen a recipe calling for bourbon and cider vinegar, but we didn’t have any bourbon. Someone had left the bottle of Jack at a party, and we don’t drink it, so this seemed like a good use for it.
I used the leftover Dinosaur BBQ Mutha sauce from our brisket cook last weekend on the side. Overall, I thought the ribs came out really good. They had a nice flavor and fell right off the bone, though I think they ended up a bit overdone as they were just a bit less juicy than I had hoped for. Next time, I’ll try some pork ribs and see how those turn out.
Beef Back Ribs (Servings depend on amount prepared. In this case, 1.5 lbs of uncooked ribs served just me. :). This seems like a lot, but remember that they are mostly bone, and the meat shrinks appreciably while cooking. Cost per serving: About $4.50, though the ribs were on mega-sale)
Use your favorite rub for beef. In this case, I used the leftover rub from our beef brisket cooked last weekend.
Mop Sauce (increase the volume as you increase the number of ribs to be cooked)
¼ cup Jack Daniels, plus some for the chef if so inclined
¼ cup cider vinegar
1.5 lbs Beef Back ribs
- Big Green Egg or other smoker
- Basting brush appropriate for use on a grill
- Drip pan (I used a disposable aluminum pan)
- Optional: Vertical rib rack (allows more ribs to fit on the grate)
1. Prepare the ribs by removing the membrane from the back side. This came off quite easily just by puling on it. No knife or tools required.
2. At least one hour before cooking, apply your rub liberally to the outside of the ribs. Save the rub that falls off for use in the mop sauce. Put the ribs in a Ziploc bag, and put them back in the fridge until you are ready to cook.
3. Set up the smoker for indirect cooking. On my Big Green Egg, I filled up the firebox with hardwood lump charcoal, lit a small fire in the middle, and let the temperature come up to about 300 degrees. I then adjusted the settings and let the temperature stabilize at 250 degrees. When it was stable, I added several chunks of hickory wood spaced around the fire. I used the plate setter legs up, with a disposable aluminum pan partially filled with water between the legs. I put the grill on over that, and put my vertical rib rack on the grill.
4. I placed the ribs in the rib rack and periodically checked the temperature to ensure that it was stable around 250 degrees Fahrenheit, since I was going for a ‘low and slow’ cook to maximize smoke flavor and get that fall off the bone texture.
5. Once the ribs were cooking, I mixed up the mop sauce, which is just equal parts cider vinegar and Jack Daniels, plus the leftover rub from step 2, above.
6. Once per hour, I brushed on the mop sauce to both sides of the ribs, using a long-handled silicone grill brush.
7. I wasn’t really sure how long to cook the ribs, so I left them on for about 4 hours, because that’s when I was ready to eat. I couldn’t get a decent temperature reading with my meat thermometer since the meat was very thin, so I just went by time and appearance. In retrospect, I would have probably cooked them a bit less, or wrapped them in foil for the last hour to hold in some of the moisture.
8. I took the ribs out of the smoker, and wrapped them in foil for about 20 minutes to rest, while I prepared my sides.
9. I served the ribs with homemade BBQ sauce on the side. They were great both with the sauce, and ‘as-is’ with just the rub and smoke for flavor.