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Barbecued Baby-back Ribs

I have skipped hotdogs, which are number four on the list, because they require no recipe or skill other than tending so as not to burn them. Number five on the list varies from year to year, but is usually pork, and sometimes specified as pork ribs. Baby-back ribs are not necessarily healthy. However, they are delicious, I was raised eating them, and I have not given them up completely. I have also been talking about the list of grilled items, but I use a smoker for this recipe. If you wonder why I do not include a sauce, I was raised on old-style Memphis barbecue where it was said that “sauce was invented to cover the cook’s mistakes.” Only a dry rub and wood smoke were used. Trivia note - classic east Texas barbecue was a brisket cooked over a Post oak fire, seasoned with salt, and black pepper. That’s all.

Racks of baby-back ribs

Creole Seasoned Salt or Butt Rub

Trim visible fat. This step is not critical, because excess fat will render and drip free of the ribs, but it will leave more mess to clean up.

Remove the membrane from the bone side of the ribs. This is best done by slipping a sharp knife under the membrane and slicing to free it from one end of the ribs. Use pliers to grasp the membrane and pull to remove it.

Season the ribs thoroughly with Creole Seasoned Salt (February 8, 2018 post) or Butt Rub (recipe follows) and wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for 2 to 3 days, meat side up. The salt will draw moisture that dissolves the seasonings. The seasoned moisture will then be slowly absorbed into the meat.

Remove the plastic wrap and smoke for 4 hours with moderate heat and ample wood smoke. I use a mix of pecan and wild cherry wood. If not done to your satisfaction, transfer the ribs to the rack of a roasting pan, pour 1 to 2 bottles of beer in the bottom (not touching the meat), and place it in a 250°F oven for 1 to 2 hours. Slice between the ribs and serve. If room is available I usually add small items to be smoked along with the ribs such as: tasso, Chinese roast pork, or smoked eggs. I will be providing those recipes at a later date.

Butt Rub

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup paprika, hot or mild

3 tablespoons salt

3 tablespoons black pepper

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Cayenne (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a 6-inch bowl and stir to thoroughly blend.

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