Let’s start this recipe by preparing the ribs for the smoker. First, remove them from their vacuum-packed wrappings. Then wash them well with cold tap water. Then thoroughly pat them dry them with absorbent paper towels.
Next, place them in a large aluminum cookie pan meat side down. And with heavy-duty paper towels grip and remove the white membrane (the silverskin) from the backside of the slab. Note: Doing this helps the ribs cook through and through and also allows the seasoning to permeate the meat.
At this point put together your homemade “rib rub.” To do this, you’ll need:
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons black pepper
3 tablespoons coarse salt
1 cup paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Frank Davis Strictly N’Awlins Pork Seasoning
Mix together all of the above ingredients in a large bowl “less the pork seasoning.”
Then, lightly but evenly sprinkle the pork seasoning onto both sides of the rack.
Immediately thereafter, liberally sprinkle both sides with the homemade rub. . .but concentrate on rubbing most of it on the meaty side.
Then on the countertop, allow the slabs to “dry marinate” for at least an hour. And while that is happening, fire up the smoker!
Your heat range for smoking should be between 175 and 250 degrees.
Regulate the damper so that you keep the smoker from drifting out of this range.
I personally think the idea temperature is 225 degrees, but when you’re using charcoal briquettes, it’s not that easy to keep the heat at that temp range.
Once again, learn to manipulate your damper. Start out with a little less air and adjust to more air to heat up the coals if needed.
Technically, you want to smoke the ribs for 2 hours using the charcoal plus a combination of both pecan and cherry wood. (Actually, pecan wood by itself is totally acceptable).
Whichever you use, be sure to “soak” them in water for about 15 minutes or so. Then, when you’re ready to cook, liberally sprinkle the chips over the coals. Your neighbors will smell your ribs a block away!
After 1-1/2 to 2 hours, remove the slabs from the smoker and wrap them rather loosely, but individually, in extra-heavy duty aluminum foil crown side down.
Tip #1: Don’t puncture the foil during this process—if the juices leak out, the ribs will be dry. Now transfer the smoked rib racks to your oven. Set the oven to bake at 250 degrees for 4 hours or 350 degrees for 3 hours (either method will work). After the allotted time, remove the slabs and allow them to rest—still in the foil!—on for about 15 minutes so that the juices can redistribute inside the meat.
Tip #2: Be careful when opening up the foil. Remember, steam has been trapped inside and can cause an unfortunate burn if the wrappings are handled carelessly.
At this point, your “Mike’s Ultimate Baby Back Ribs” are now ready to slice into “singles” and serve. A dollop or two of your favorite barbecue sauce can be served on the side as desired.
Sous Chef’s Note: What’s really cool about this recipe and methodology is that after the slabs come to room temperature, you can then chill them in your refrigerator over night. Then the next day, vacuum seal them and freeze them for a later date. They’ll be just as good a month or two later.