Motor City Baby Back Ribs

A true American classic!

Here’s my spin on the classic baby back ribs. This is not competition style; however, I get great results using this method in the vertical smokers.

First, to get great smoked ribs, you have to start with a quality product. This may be your local butcher or packing company. If none is available, then the butcher at the local Kroger can help you out or point you in the right direction. You will pay a little more at the butcher, but it may be worth it.

Get your smoker started and aim for a temp of 225ºF to 250ºF. Now, let’s prep the ribs.

To start, rinse off the ribs and remove any fat or loose bones. Next, lay the ribs meat side down, and remove the membrane from the back of the ribs using a knife and a paper towel to get a good grip.

Note: If you are really struggling to get the membrane off or it’s coming off in pieces, don’t worry about it. You can still get great flavor leaving it on. I just recommend taking it off.

Next, pat the ribs dry and cover the ribs with a light layer using plain yellow mustard; front and back. This will help your rub adhere, and the vinegar in the mustard seems to come out when cooking.

Now, using your favorite rub recipe, completely coat the ribs with the rub. I use some rub from Aunt Holly’s Kountry Kitchen at the local Farmer’s Market. They have several to try.

I have never marinated my ribs, but I have let them sit overnight with the rub on, wrapped in plastic wrap; and I must say, they came out great.

Once the smoker is up to temperature, place your ribs bone side down on the grate. If you are using the hanging method, hook the ribs at least two bones in and hang them.

After 1 hour, I start spritzing the ribs with apple juice (or any spritz of your choice) every half hour. I think if you do it more than that, you’re taking the top off too much. This is for flavor, not moisture. The vertical barbecue smokers do not use a water bowl because the moisture stays within.

The ribs will normally take 3 to 5 hours to cook. Because it is hard to take a temperature reading with the meat being so close to the bone, you have to do a visual check to see if the meat has pulled away from the end of the bone about a quarter inch.

About a half hour, before pulling the ribs off, you can add your sauce and flip the ribs over. Some people use sauce and some do not. It’s all preference. The sauce will help with getting a nice bark on the ribs.

Let the ribs sit for a few minutes after pulling them off. Now enjoy.

This is just one method of several out there. I try to keep it simple. Once you become advanced, then you’ll want to try the 3-2-1 method. We’ll cover that in a future recipe.