John’s Smoked BBQ Ribs and Salt Lick Rub

The Meat

Hello everyone,

As you have probably figured out by now, John lives for BBQ. With the 4 different BBQs/smokers/BBQ smokers he owns, this is fact is no secret. Since I met John, he was always really good at BBQ, and has managed to continually outdo every previous effort that I deemed (at the time) the best barbecued ____ that I had ever eaten in my life. He finds a way to never plateau. Since the acquisition of the Kamado, John has really kicked it up a few notches, with the BBQ goods getting bigger and better with every effort, what John really wants to do is cook for big groups of people. With all of his devices, he says he could easily cook for 100. I believe him.

We have yet to have the opportunity to host 100+ people for a BBQ (I don’t think there would be enough parking on our street), but luckily for John he has a pretty large family. With his sister Melissa, her husband Jason and their two sons Jayden and Kylan in town from Toronto, John wanted to take the opportunity to dazzle his loved-ones with a mind-blowing mountain of glorious smoked meat. And as you will see, he succeeded at achieving this goal.

As you can probably imagine, any large scale BBQ put on by John requires a massive commitment. So I thought I would take you through the steps it took to get the meat from the store to your belly!

Step 1: Meal Planning

John and I tried to model this meal after the dining experience we had at our precious, precious Salt Lick restaurant in Texas. This meant the classic Texas trio of smoked meats – beef brisket, ribs and sausage. I would aim to create the typical accompanying side – coleslaw, potato salad baked beans, and of course corn bread!

In case you haven’t noticed, pulled pork is a hot thing here in Edmonton these days. I barely knew that pulled pork even existed 5 years ago, and now people are putting this trendy food in everything from sandwiches, to poutine, to tacos, to pizza to who knows what else. Coming from a pulled-pork obsessed culture, John and I were surprised to find that there was barely a mention of it in Austin. There, the focus is on the brisket, king of barbecue.

Step 2: Acquiring Food and Other BBQ Related Products

The brisket is a large piece of meat. A standard brisket is around 9 to 12 lbs. For those wondering, the brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of beef. As cattle do not have collar bones, the brisket muscles support about 60% of the body weight of standing or moving cattle. Now 12 lbs. of any meat is never cheap, however thanks to a tip from Cody, we made the trip down to K & K, the European store in the south side, and purchased a brisket at a much more reasonable price than most other butcher shops. Next, we swung by Costco to pick up 4 racks of side ribs and a dozen honey garlic sausages. A Save-On run to pick up all the other groceries, and a dollar store run for misc. party items, there was only one other important stop.

John needed to figure out a way to serve meat to 15 people, ie. something to serve the meat on. For smaller parties or for just the two of us, we have this large cutting board that he uses to serve BBQ meat. As we have a picnic table, John came up with the idea of purchasing a long board and lying it across the picnic table, with the meat to be thrown right on the board. So off to the hardware store!

MeatStep 3: Dinner Prep – The Day Before

On my part, I just tried to get as much cooking done that I could (I worked the next day and would only be home a few hours before guests would arrive.) I got the crock pot ready for my baked beans, chopped up the coleslaw, made the dressing, and of course, marinated the sangria!

For John, preparing the brisket was key. The cut wasn’t perfect so he had his work cut out for him. He had to start by removing some of the fat, and effort that takes some time and precision. You can see John pictured below with his brisket. As you can imagine, it takes some time to smoke an 11 lb. piece of meat. As a result, John was up at 2:00 in the morning, heating up the smoker, putting rub on the brisket, setting his thermometers, selecting the appropriate types of wood to smoke, and of course getting the brisket in the smoker, all before returning to bed. In order to have the brisket ready for dinner the next day, getting up this early was a necessary step as I don’t think our guests would take too kindly to a midnight dinner!

Step 4: Dinner Prep – The Day Of

With smoking times of any meat differing depending on numerous conditions , timing is always a challenge. On my part, I am concerned with having all the side prepared to the point where I can get them all out at the drop of a hat, to be served at the same time as the meat. I am usually given a large window, and have to act fast once John is able to give a more concrete done time. John is concerned with having is 3 different meats in 2 different smokers smoked with different types of wood being cooked over various time periods ranging from 4-16 hours that also need to be relaxed and thrown on the propane grill quickly all being ready at the same time. I think the length and detail and run-on-ness of the previous sentence makes it clear how challenging this can be! Nothing ever goes quite as planned, but after a few snags and some complicated timing issues, John was able to have all 3 kinds of meat out all at the same time. Not an easy feat

The sides were great too, slow cooked beans in the crockpot, coleslaw with a light vinegar based dressing, right form the Salt Lick cookbook, and a very nice potato salad featuring strawberries, blueberries and arugula. John also busted out his deep fryer, filled it with water and boiled a pile of corn for everyone to enjoy. Sabrina was kind enough to bring her famous jalapeno cornbread, which was promptly demolished by all. This cornbread is better than any I have had at any restaurant!To top things off we had strawberry rhubarb pie with ice cream. YUM!

Step 6: The Aftermath

As no one eats healthy portions of food at a BBQ of this magnitude, the general sentiment was that of an over-stuffed group of people. Some coped quite well, while others were strewn about on the ground, unable to walk, with rolling the only way to get from here to there.

Now, it is likely most of you don’t own the assortment of barbecues that John does, so he has kindly adapted this week’s recipe for a propane grill. This week’s recipe is John’s ribs. As mentioned above, we like our ribs pull-of-the-bone, as opposed to fall-off-the-bone. Try this method and we are certain you will agree!

John urged me to send out the Salt Lick BBQ sauce as last week’s recipe to ensure that you would have it on hand before you take a crack at these ribs. Ribs and Salt Lick sauce are like two peas in a pod, and John highly recommends that you take the time to make your own BBQ sauce for your ribs! John even did me the favour of meticulously typing out the rib recipe for you all, so give it a shot! (although I suppose it’s more of a technique then a recipe)

Special thanks to Sabrina for bringing the cornbread, and for my mom for our pie-making afternoon a while back. Making pie with you mom is always fun, and a pile of pies is the gift that keeps on giving.

Thanks to the weather for holding up, and to mother nature for putting of Edmonton’s dreadful mosquito infestation for a few more days.

Also, thanks to all of our wonderful guests for coming and making our BBQ such a memorable evening!

Bon appetit,

Julie

Click here to view printable Word version of recipe:
John’s Smoked BBQ Ribs – Smoker Instructions
John’s BBQ Ribs – Gas Barbecue Instructions
Salt Lick Rub

________________________________________________________

JOHN’S SMOKED BBQ RIBS

Many try for the much sought after “fall off the bone” ribs. This is a mistake. To preserve flavour, the objective is to create “pull of the bone” ribs, where a gentle pull is required before the meat comes clean off the bone. This recipe will guide you create your very own tender, pull off the bone ribs.

Ingredients:

Side ribs
Mustard Based BBQ Sauce
Rub (see end of document for recipe)

Rib selection:

Select side ribs over back ribs. Costco has the best deal in town and a good quality product.
The thicker the better! Look for an even fat marble.

Trim Your Ribs:

Start by removing the silver skin / membrane around the ribs. This will prevent them from becoming chewy after cooking.

Please also note that Costco ribs come with the brisket bone off and fajita skirt still on.  The fajita skirt is a Mohawk shaped cut of meat that protrudes from the underside of a side rib selection.  Cut this off flush with the rack and cook separate. (These little guy’s get ready much faster and are a tender boneless treat to enjoy while waiting for the rest to finish)

Smoker Directions:

  1. Preheat smoker to 250F.
  2. While pre-heating your grill, pull your ribs out of the fridge and apply an even coat of rub to both sides.
  3. Smoke ribs meat side down for one hour with hickory, oak or apple (John’s preference is a hickory apple combination, a nice sweet and tart combination.)
  4. After 1hr baste ribs with a mustard based BBQ sauce (we like our homemade Salt Lick BBQ Sauce.) Take care to baste both sides and all ends as well. Place ribs fat side down after the baste.
  5. Cook fat side down for 2 ½ more hours or until internal temp is 175F
  6. As a finishing touch, give the ribs a light sear on each side on high heat for a nice finish.
  7. Relax ribs for 15 minutes before serving.
  8. Serve with extra Salt lick sauce for dipping. (Keep dipping sauce and basting sauce separate to avoid any contamination)

Get messy and enjoy!

Salt Lick Rub

7.5 oz Morton salt (Or regular medium grind salt works too, not too fine)

3 Oz Black pepper medium grind (not the fine stuff, grind yourself if possible)

1 ½ Oz ground cayenne pepper

__________________________________________________________________________

JOHN’S GAS BBQ RIBS

Many try for the much sought after “fall off the bone” ribs. This is a mistake. To preserve flavour, the objective is to create “pull of the bone” ribs, where a gentle pull is required before the meat comes clean off the bone. This recipe will guide you create your very own tender, pull off the bone ribs.

Ingredients:

Side ribs
Mustard Based BBQ Sauce
Rub (see end of document for recipe)

Rib selection:

Select side ribs over back ribs. (Costco has the best deal in town and a good quality product.)
The thicker the better! Look for an even fat marble.

Trim Your Ribs:

Start by removing the silver skin / membrane around the ribs. This will prevent them from becoming chewy after cooking.

Please also note that Costco ribs come with the brisket bone off and fajita skirt still on.  The fajita skirt is a Mohawk shaped cut of meat that protrudes from the underside of a side rib selection.  Cut this off flush with the rack and cook separate. (These little guy’s get ready much faster and are a tender boneless treat to enjoy while waiting for the rest to finish)

Gas BBQ Directions:

  1. First start your grill. Be sure to only start one burner on the furthest side from where your meat will be cooking to ensure a nice even indirect cook. You want to adjust the controls in such a way that the BBQ holds an internal temp of 220F-260F.
  1. While pre-heating your grill, pull your ribs out of the fridge and apply an even coat of rub to both sides.
  1. I recommend the use of a smoker box with Hickory and Apple wood in your BBQ. Place the smoker box under the grill and over the burner on the opposite end of your meat, for indirect smoking. Put a foil pie tray filled with water or your favourite marinade on the grill between the smoker box and meat. This will keep your meat moist. (John recommends equal parts of apple juice and apple cider vinegar as your marinade.) If you don’t have a smoker box, skip this step – your ribs will still turn out great!
  1. Place ribs on pre heated grill meat side down and close lid. Maintain 220F-260F for 1hr
  1. After 1hr baste ribs with a mustard based BBQ sauce (we like our homemade Salt Lick BBQ Sauce.) Take care to baste both sides and all ends as well. Place ribs fat side down after the baste and alternate which ribs are closest to the heat source.  It’s best to keep the larger racks closer than the smaller racks but in general keep all ribs out of any direct heat.  Rib rack holders can help if you are cooking large amounts on a small grill and can be bought at any department store like Walmart, Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Lowes etc. for cheap.
  1. Cook fat side down for 2 ½ more hours or until internal temp is 175F
  1. Remove smoker box and water tray. Remove ribs and turn burners to high and let come up to temp while giving ribs another baste. Once basted give the ribs a quick 30sec-1min crisp on each side but not any longer as the sugar content in the sauce will cause burning on your beautiful ribs.
  1. Turn burners off and leave ribs in grill to rest for 10-15min to further relax the meat.
  1. Serve with extra Salt lick sauce for dipping. (Keep dipping sauce and basting sauce separate to avoid any contamination)

Get messy and enjoy!

Salt Lick Rub

7.5 oz Morton salt (Or regular medium grind salt works too, not too fine)

3 Oz Black pepper medium grind (not the fine stuff, grind yourself if possible)

1 ½ Oz ground cayenne pepper

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One thought on “John’s Smoked BBQ Ribs and Salt Lick Rub

  1. Pingback: Austin, Texas and Salt Lick BBQ Sauce | Julie's Kitchen Adventures

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