Ribs (see Part I for tips on selection.)
InstructionsPart I -- Preparation
Your ribs should be purchased at least 24 hours in advance of cooking and the following steps completed. The first thing you must do is select your spare ribs. Not beef ribs. Not wimpy baby back loin ribs. But, big, meaty spare ribs. I buy my spareribs at Sam's Club. They are consistently good. Sam's carries them in the cryovac packages containing three slabs weighing about 3½ lbs each. By the way, I hear people using the term slab and rack interchangably quite often, but they are not the same. A slab is a whole side of ribs. A rack is usually half a slab, or 4-6 ribs. Don't just buy ribs from any grocer. Do some investigating and find a good source. It will pay off in the long run. The ribs from Sam's come with the brisket bone, or chine, attached. This is the end of the ribs that contains the cartilage, or knuckles, that attached the ribs to the sternum of Mr. Piggy. Cut this portion off as close to the end of the rib bone as you can. Save these pieces to cook for family, not for presentation to guests. They eat just as well, but they don't look as nice! Removing this portion also allows for more even cooking of the ribs. Now, cut each slab of ribs in half to make two racks. This will allow us to fit more on the grill. The next thing you must do (yes, must!) is remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. This is best accomplished by sliding the edge of a knife or screwdriver under the edge of the membrane on the first rib and pulling gently down the bone, not across. A paper towel makes gripping the membrane very easy once you have it started, although I still prefer using catfish skinnin' pliers since I keep them handy. With a little practice, you will be able to remove the membrane in one piece most of the time. Not removing the membrane is probably the #1 cause of tough ribs that I have encountered. Now we are ready for the fun part!! Take each rack and rub generously, VERY generously, with French's mustard. Coat each rack of ribs with your favorite rub until you can't see the mustard any more. I have a crushed red pepper shaker (taken from Pizza Hut in my larcenous younger days, I must admit) with large holes that I use to dispense my rub. It works great! Place ribs in air tight container, ziploc bags, or wrap in plastic wrap for 24 hours or until you are ready to place ribs on the cooker.
Part II -- The Fire
Elder Ward covered the fire starting technique very well, so I will reference anyone who has questions to his text for assistance if needed. I'll quickly go over how I start my fire for the record. First, I remove the grill and fire ring from the Egg. Then, I stir the remaining charcoal with the ash tool until all the ash and small pieces of coal have fallen through the fire grate. If needed, I then empty the ash from the bottom vent. I don't feel it is necessary to do this every time. I do it about once every two weeks and don't have any problems. Next, I fill the Egg with charcoal to just below the top of the firebox and place 3-4 fist sized chunks of hickory on top and spaced evenly around the outer edge of the fuel. With the lower vent wide open and top up, I place my electric starter in the charcoal, plug it in, and go remove the prepped ribs from the refrigerator. This is a good time to arrange your ribs on the rack for cooking. I'll cover that in the next section. In about 7-8 minutes, the charcoal is burning well and I remove the starter. Once your fire is ignited, reassemble the Egg. First, place the 18½" Weber charcoal grate on top of the firebox and replace the fire ring on top of it. Next, place one 12" pizza stone on the charcoal grate, place your drip pan on top of the stone, and then place your main grill back on top of the fire ring. I use disposable 12" round foil pans ($1.50 for three) as drip pans, BTW. At this point, the bottom vent is still wide open. Now close the lid on the Egg, leaving the top vent uncovered. Allow the dome temperature to rise to ~300°, then place your daisy wheel or slide top in place with vents wide open. Allow temp to rise to 350° and then close vents to stabilize the dome temp. Your target temperature is 375°. This is wide open with my daisy wheel and half open on the bottom damper. Adjust as needed to maintain 375°. Now you can place the ribs on the grill!!
Part III- Cooking
With the EGG temp stabilized place the slab directly on By now you're probably all thinkin' that ol' Jim's done lost his mind and I would've thought the same thing a month or two ago!!! Cook ribs at 375°? What happened to 200-225°? Well, the pizza stone in the bottom of the Egg changed everything. So, just trust me and go with it!! It is extremely important to be sure your thermometer is reading the proper temp. Check it with the boiling water method if you have any doubts. If you haven't already done so, now you will need to place your ribs in the rib rack. I prefer the el-cheapo Home Depot rib rack (about $6) over the inverted V-rack. It holds five racks of ribs easily and they can't flop around as much. Place ribs in the rack and transfer to the Egg in the middle of the grill. If you have another rack or two of ribs, place them on the grill leaning them against the outer edge of the ribs in the rack taking care that all of the meat is protected by your drip pan. Grab a cold beverage of your choice, or a glass of JD, and sit back for two hours or so and watch the grass grow. DO NOT open the lid on the Egg for any reason!! I mean DO NOT even think about it, not never, not no how!!! The beauty of the Egg is the wonderful moisture retention quality and that is diminished by opening the lid, IMO. I never, ever, open the lid when cooking on the Egg until I feel the food should be done, or the Polder tells me to! After two hours, check your ribs. The rub should have formed a nice crust and the meat should have pulled back about a ¼" on the bone. Try to twist a rib off of one of the racks (careful! it's hot!!). If you can pull one off easily, they are done. If not, close Egg and cook for another 15 minutes or until done.
Part IV- Serving
To serve the ribs, separate ribs into single bone pieces and place on a platter or in a pan. If your ribs are done properly, you should be able to pull them apart easily one rib at a time. You can use a knife to separate them if you like, but it should not be needed. Disposable foil pans work great for holding ribs if you are not going to eat right away (betcha can't keep from nibblin'!!!). IMHO, ribs done properly should never need sauce and I don't put any on mine. However, different strokes for different folks, as they say, so I've included a link to my dippin' sauce recipe below for them that wants it. Enjoy!!!!
Jim's Jack Sauce
Notes from the Kitchen Table JJ's direct cooking method is by far the best rib cooking method I have used. Unfortunately, you can't do a large quantity that way. Since I routinely cook 10-12 lbs. of ribs at once, I developed the method detailed above. The results come as close to JJ's as any other method I have tried. I would also like to add a note of thanks to Char-Woody and Spin for pioneering the firebrick/pizza stone idea and all the resulting experiments that made this method possible!!
Enjoy!!NotesNumber of Servings: Time to Prepare: