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Cook-In-Bag Ribs - Sacrilegious or Phenomenal?

noggin

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Joined Dec 27, 2013
St. Louis cut ribs have been a crowd pleaser in my house. Whether its family, or friends and family, they'd get demolished. I tend to let the meats I smoke stand on their own, so just salt and pepper went on them. Then my wife, almost as a joke, bought something from the grocery store. Signature Select brand, cook in bag, pre-seasoned ribs. I shook my head and told her, "We have friends coming over. If these are terrible, you're taking the blame." There was no way I was going to cook them in the blasted bag, so I brought them out to the somewhat-trusty pellet smoker, took them out of the bag, and put them on with a tube of hickory. I did absolutely no processing of my own, even leaving on the membrane. The skirt on the back appears to have already been trimmed off.

They were phenomenal. Definitely the best ribs I've ever smoked. I felt totally emasculated. But that was OK, at least for that night, because I filled that emotional void with nearly a whole rack myself. For what its worth, it was unanimous that the Kansas City flavor was better than the Whiskey Pepper flavor, though not by much.

I bought another bag of the Kansas City ribs and a rack of unseasoned. I bought the ingredients for Meathead's Memphis Dust, as that was the rub recipe I'd been seeing recommended time and time again, and whipped it up. Smoked again using 3-2-1, but this time I did spritz with apple juice every thirty minutes. For what its worth, I think the apple juice added nothing. Did another blind taste test with the Kansas City vs Meathead. Unanimously, including myself, the pre-seasoned were the winner.

The Meathead ribs were better than any salt-and-pepper ribs I've made before, so I'm a convert there. Pork is getting an actual rub from here on out. Salt-and-pepper will be for brisket and beef ribs from here out on. But I don't know what to do about the ribs. Do I just keep smoking the Signature Select (SS) brand, or do I try to 1-up them with a different rub? The SS are easy, and we've already established that I'm lazy (did you catch that I have a pellet smoker?) so should I just give in and go with SS? I think the problem with the Meathead rub was that it was too sweet. Maybe I should remove half the sugar? Maybe add a little bit of cayenne? I don't want it hot, but in addition to losing some sweetness it does need a little "something" to make it stand out a bit.

The first three pictures below are the SS ribs and dinner. The last picture was SS (top) and Meathead (Bottom) on the smoker. I was too busy eating to take another picture.
 

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smokeymose

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Sounds basically like you've established that you like a rub over just S&P.
Keep experimenting. That's how I came up with what we've been using for pork for a couple of years.
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Spanish Paprika (or Hungarian)
1/4 cup Kosher Salt (I'm using a "salt substitute" now.)
2 tb Course Black Pepper
2 tb Garlic Powder
2 tb Onion Powder
1/2 tb Cayenne
 

Hamdrew

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Joined Jan 17, 2021
Did those ribs have a packing date? Doesn't surprise me at all that you/anyone would prefer them, as thin as ribs are they cure/get permeated real quickly.

As for rubs, I'd start making your own. Take notes and make enough extra each time for at least one more cook in case you really like it. As for heat, unless you go through a ton of cayenne, you are better off buying red chile flakes/crushed red pepper and powdering them before each use. They'll stay noticeably fresher for longer. I go a step further and buy bulk dried chiles from a hispanic market for $1-5/lb.

There's also jalapeno or other green chile powder, which unsurprisingly adds a different flavor than the smoked paprika-esque flavor of adding cayenne/red chiles. Some spices like cumin and of course (black/white/green) pepper will accentuate the heat.
 

smokeymose

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Did those ribs have a packing date? Doesn't surprise me at all that you/anyone would prefer them, as thin as ribs are they cure/get permeated real quickly.

As for rubs, I'd start making your own. Take notes and make enough extra each time for at least one more cook in case you really like it. As for heat, unless you go through a ton of cayenne, you are better off buying red chile flakes/crushed red pepper and powdering them before each use. They'll stay noticeably fresher for longer. I go a step further and buy bulk dried chiles from a hispanic market for $1-5/lb.

There's also jalapeno or other green chile powder, which unsurprisingly adds a different flavor than the smoked paprika-esque flavor of adding cayenne/red chiles. Some spices like cumin and of course (black/white/green) pepper will accentuate the heat.
How do you powder the chilis? There are several hispanic markets near me where they have dried and fresh peppers cheap.
 

noggin

Fire Starter
66
14
Joined Dec 27, 2013
Did those ribs have a packing date? Doesn't surprise me at all that you/anyone would prefer them, as thin as ribs are they cure/get permeated real quickly.
Would applying the rub the night before they go on the smoker make a significant difference? I rubbed the ribs only about an hour, maybe ninety minutes, before they went on the smoker. I just left them on the counter at room temperature.
 

smokeymose

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Would applying the rub the night before they go on the smoker make a significant difference? I rubbed the ribs only about an hour, maybe ninety minutes, before they went on the smoker. I just left them on the counter at room temperature.
IMO no. I do them just like you did.
 

Hamdrew

Smoking Fanatic
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Joined Jan 17, 2021
How do you powder the chilis? There are several hispanic markets near me where they have dried and fresh peppers cheap.
I have 3 coffee grinders, only 1 for coffee lol.
Ops_4AJVmqyS7yL9uEjH9IV38QgHWOPIiK8xaldYg&usqp=CAE.jpg
This one I use for "small batch" got on sale for $10, and i have a bigger ($15) Mr. Coffee for when i want to fill up a full jar.

rawhamsteaks.jpg


I got the above pasillas and chile de arbols from a hispanic market myself; Crazy being able to leave with a dozen tamales for dinner and several pounds of chiles for less than the price of a couple big Spice Island/whatever-brand jars!
 

Hamdrew

Smoking Fanatic
561
817
Joined Jan 17, 2021
Would applying the rub the night before they go on the smoker make a significant difference? I rubbed the ribs only about an hour, maybe ninety minutes, before they went on the smoker. I just left them on the counter at room temperature.
Overnight yes, as well as help the pellicle form, but you gotta have room in the refrigerator. You can also use a ton of salt and sugar to pretty much cure them overnight, just rinse off the excess before (drying, and) applying the rub
 

smokeymose

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Joined Aug 13, 2015
I have 3 coffee grinders, only 1 for coffee lol.
View attachment 496472
This one I use for "small batch" got on sale for $10, and i have a bigger ($15) Mr. Coffee for when i want to fill up a full jar.

View attachment 496471

I got the above pasillas and chile de arbols from a hispanic market myself; Crazy being able to leave with a dozen tamales for dinner and several pounds of chiles for less than the price of a couple big Spice Island/whatever-brand jars!
Cool! I have a "Mr Coffee" grinder that I use for busting up whole spices for Pastrami rub. I'll give dried peppers a try.
 

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