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Baby Back Ribs or The 2 things I hate about my WSM...

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

They had baby back ribs on sale at Kroger after the 4th.  Sell by date was the end of the month, so I figured why not smoke some this weekend.  So here we go....


This smoke reminds me of the 2 things I had about my WSM.  It's a 18.5" model from 2005 (years before they made the 22.5" model).  Now don't get me wrong, the WSM is an excellent smoker and pretty much in a class of it's own with a huge following.  Hell, I even figured out how to mod it for electric smoking under PID control for low temp stuff.  So I do love my WSM.  But the two gripes I have are really one.... it's 18.5" wide.  So 1) a full rack of ribs is too wide, and 2) a whole brisked it too wide.    And there are ways of dealing with both of the above.  Especially since it's now just me and the wife, so I really can't justify tossing a perfectly good 18.5" to buy a 22.5" just for certain foods when I can work around the problem.  So there, I've got that out of the way (and I really do love a WSM).


So for today's smoke I have a single, full rack of baby rack ribs which came in the typical cryo-vac container and had been in a 10% solution of brine.  Opened the container, good smell, washed them, cut the rack in half, patted dry and then did something most of you have probably never heard of..... I rubbed it with Blue Plate mayonaise.  Yep, I said mayo and not mustard.  My logic is mayo is mostly oil base, and all we are doing is using the mustard to hold more rub on the meat until it can set in the smoker.  I've been using mayo on chicken for years and it works like magic for moist tender chicken, so it should also work on ribs, butts, etc.....


Here we are all rubbed up and ready for the smoker.  The rub is a my take on a commercial BBQ shop pork rub (Pecan Lodge in Dallas Texas).  This is some good stuff and works great on chicken and butts, so on the ribs it goes.



Prepped the WSM with natural lump.  I'm using Cowboy "Southern Style Hardwood Lump" (yes, I said Cowboy).  I was out of Royal Oak the other day and in a pinch bought Cowboy as that is all that Lowe's had and I was short on time.  It was a very big bag and this is the 3rd smoke I'm getting out of it (with probably one more 6 hour smoke left in the bag).  I have not used Cowboy in years and previously was not overly impressed with it.  Something has really changed in those years.  This stuff is still sparky as it lights, but it is very stable once lit, little ash production, and lasts a long, long time. No sign of salvaged flooring strips or plywood as in years past.  Yes, they still have a lot of little chunks, but it looks to be all solid wood, well carbonized, and they have made great improvements IMO. Very workable stuff in this bag at least.


Once the WSM was up to temp and stable at 225*, I let the BBQ Guru take control.  I'm running a foiled clay pot base for thermal mass and no water on this smoke.  Onto the grate at 2:30PM.



So, now I wait.....   I haven't decided if I'm going au' natural the entire smoke of if I will foil.  Guess I have a few hours to decide...


So, see you can live just fine with the "limitations" of a 18.5" WSM if you really want to....

post #2 of 10
Thread Starter 

Oh, I forgot to add that I did put some apple chunks in with the lump.

post #3 of 10
Looking good so far. Never tried mayo on ribs, sounds interesting. The thing with mustard is the vinegar that pulls the spices into the meat. Does the mayo add to the grease? I know it works good on birds to keep them moist.
post #4 of 10

Looks like a great start for a Sunday afternoon!

post #5 of 10
Off to a tasty start. I've taken to using a rib rack or rolling the racks if they don't fit in the 18. Or just cut in half. No biggy I'm used to it from cooking on the mini.

Cowboy lump here still sucks. I hadn't been using it but was given a bag. Same as last time I used it. Lots of tiny stuff and then whole logs, 12" long x 3" round. Ugghhhh.

365 brand has been really good, which reminds me I need to get some more.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

Well, the results are mixed.  The flavor was not what I was looking for, but I blame this on my rub choice.  Note to self, don't use that rub on ribs again.  I can't put my finger on which flavor is off and this rub is a winner on chicken and pulled pork, but it just ain't doing it on ribs.  Not bad, but not great either.  I have others that work much better.


I think the ribs were also pretty lean.  Looked like "normal" (at least for cryo-packed and brined ribs), and they came out tender.  But the wife likes that 'fall off the bone' tender (which I think is overdone).  Just did not get to that point even though I ended up foiling in the end.  Did not get much bone pullback which is why I suspect they were leaner than normal.


The two successes of this smoke were the charcoal (surprising) and the mayo base for the rub to stick with.  Perhaps that is part of the flavor issue, that too much rub stuck?  I've used mayo and this same rub on pork butts and it works great.  But the rub/bark to meat ratio is very different with pulled pork as compared to back ribs.


I totally forgot to take a photo of the ribs as they came off the WSM, so I apologize for that.  But here is the finished product.





Wife made up some last minute hash browns and maple syrup carrots.  Carrots were great, hash browns were meh.... but it was quick and another experiment.  Packaged hash browns, onions, and some cheese on top.  Probably would have been better if we thawed the hash browns first, but it was a last minute choice.


post #7 of 10

The ribs sure look good from here Dave!


That's a great looking meal you put together!


Nice job!



post #8 of 10
Your approach with mayo is perfect. Makes a lot is sence.. The finish ribs look great. 18 WSM too small?
How about next time roll the ribs and put a skewer through them to keep them together place them
Like a "ring o ribs" on the WSM .. It works great
You jus may have to flip them halfway during the smoke.
post #9 of 10

Dave they look good to me,I use Mayo on Turkey all the time helps keep it moist.


post #10 of 10

I'd eat these ribs anytime. I have struggles with my missus and I liking our ribs differently too.



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