Following on from the recent discussions about the basics of cooking ribs I have included a quick Q-view of today's cook. Today I cooked 3 racks as it was only myself and my wife home. We ate one rack tonight between us and will freeze the other two for later in the week.
Firstly the most important thing is the ribs themselves. Ask your butcher to cut them fresh for you and make sure that they leave at least 5-10mm of meat covering the rib bones. You will always see the rib bones from the inside however if you can also see them from the outside (with most supermarket ribs you can see bone both sides) reject them. What you should be looking for is something like this.
After you have removed the membrane (see previous posts), by bending the ribs find the point where the bones meet the cartilage and cut along the join using a sharp knife.
Retain the meat that you have cut off and continue to cook these off-cuts in the same way as you cook the main ribs.
Rub both sides of the ribs liberally with your favourite rub. and either cover in clingfilm or vacuum pack. Place in the fridge overnight.
As I was only doing 3 racks this weekend I use the 22" Weber and to take the strain out of managing the temperature I connected up my IQ-110. Ideally you should be cooking the ribs at 225F (~110 C) however when you are first beginning, trying to maintain such a low temperature consistently can be a bit daunting. For beginners I usually suggest cooking at ~300F (150C) until they feel comfortable with their smokers as this is often easier to maintain. Today I cooked at 225F/110C
A quick aside... After seeing online reviews of the IQ-110 a couple of years ago I picked up a couple of units whilst I was passing through St Louis and brought them home. They are like little BBQ pixies. Once you set them going you can just forget about the smoker temperature as they do all the hard work for you. Today the Weber kept within a range of 220F-227F and I had to do nothing to manage the temperature for the whole of the 6 hours cooking time.
Notice the 3 racks of ribs and the trimmings are all in the rib rack.
After 3 hours initial cooking, wrap the ribs in foil and continue to cook for a further 2 hours
The IQ-110 is also a real fuel miser. Notice that of the 1/2 chimney of Heat Beads I started with, barely 1/3 of them have actually lit after 3 hours.
After 2 hours in foil, uncover and cook for a further 1 hour.
When they are cut the there should be sufficient meat on a pair of the larger ribs to make a reasonable serving. I must confess that I can usually eat a lot more
Don't forget the off-cuts. While the meat is still hot pull the meat away from the cartilage for use later. If you wait until the meat goes cold it will be more difficult to remove. This can be cut into cubes and then used in other dishes - like BBQ beans.