Smoke Ribs Every Day♫

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A bizarre, but awesome thing happens when you get married- all of your friends and family become simultaneously interested in your materialistic needs and wants. They anticipate registry information with excitement and then proceed to fulfill items with a vigor fueled only by love. Then, if you're lucky enough to get married right before Christmas, the holiday provides an opportunity to fill a wish list with forgotten items. It may come as no surprise that 80% of our registry consisted of food related items. Some of said items included, but were not limited to, a spiralizer, double-sided mallet, cutting boards, bakeware, a Japanese chef's knife and a set of  Italian "china" we love almost as much as that sentence doesn't make sense. There was just one crucial item we forgot to register for... 

Enter our electric smoker. 

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We were kicking ourselves for forgetting to put this baby on our registry, but then hugging ourselves (and each other) when Dad (Chris's) came through with one for Christmas. It should go without saying that it didn't take us long to put it to use. Three hours of pre-seasoning later we were ready for our first attempt at smoking meat, and what better meat to start with than a slab baby back ribs. 

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We agreed instantly on the idea of a rub-only rack because while sauce is one of our culinary strengths, we wanted to get a true feel for the rib's texture on the first try. An addictive sauce could distract from a true understanding of our result vs. our goal for the next round. Off we went to replicate a rub near and dear to our hearts- a family recipe (Stef's) comprised of smokey, salty, sweet and complex spices that are nothing short of magical when added to pork. 

Meat Quality: This is crucial. Don't spend 6 hours of your life cooking something that didn't have a chance to begin with. Start shopping at a reputable butcher in your area. 

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Wood chips: Mesquite

Cook time: 4-4.5 hours or 160°

Liquids: Beer, apple cider vinegar + water 

Temperature: 225 F 

Prep:
The night before, prepare your choice of rub or take store-bought rub and coat your ribs liberally. Wrap in foil and refrigerate overnight.  

Before setting the smoker to preheat, soak half a cup of wood chips in water. They'll be ready at about the time the smoker hits your desired temperature. 

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The Breakdown:
*Preheat smoker until the temperature reads 225 F- approximately 30 minutes.
*Add ribs directly on the rack. Load in 1/2 cup of water-soaked mesquite chips. Smoke 1 hour. 
*Load another 1/2 cup of water soaked mesquite chips. Smoke 1 hour. 
*Pour desired liquid into water pan. We used equal parts apple cider vinegar and water. Smoke 1 hour. 
*Pull ribs out, wrap them in foil, while leaving an opening on one side. Pour desired liquid into this opening- the steam will play a large part in tenderizing the meat. We used a light beer. Place wrapped ribs back on the rack. Smoke 1.5 hours. 
*Pull ribs and test for desired tenderness by pulling lightly on the bones. The easier it is to separate the bone from the meat, the more tender the rack will be. We pulled it at 4.5 hours. 

Results: the texture was just-shy of fall-off-the-bone, which may sound like a negative, but it definitely wasn't. Each bite was fulfilling, yet still tender and the spices melded together creating a nice combination of salty and sticky, fatty and firm. We'll experiment with a few different techniques on the following round and keep you posted on the variance in results. 

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Tip: a little bit of sweetness balances the smoke very well. With this said, add a little brown sugar to your rub of choice. 

Stay tuned for more SMOKED GOODNESS!