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Pecan Smoked Whiskey Ribs

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
So I have been sampling BBQ in my ski travels, some real good, but it's mainly given me the itch to get back home and smoke some pork myself.  Today was a balmy 60F, and the last snow pile in my backyard bit the dust, so I took that as a sign to fire up the smoke works.  A friend gave me some pecan wood last fall, and I decided to experiment with it on some ribs (instead of using my normal hickory wood routine).

Step 1 is to unpack the ribs (pork "back" ribs in this case), rinse them, and remove the inner membrane.  Not only does this last part allow for more pleasant eating later on, but it allows the meat to relax more easily while cooking and lets smoke penetrate better.  The membrane is easily removed by gripping it with a paper towel and peeling off.


Step 2 is to give the ribs a coating of olive oil and then a sprinkling of salt and pepper.  At this point, I am about T minus 30 minutes from smoking, and the ribs sit out at room temperature until then.  Had a rub been used, that would have been done the night before, and I'd simply take the ribs out of the fridge 30 minutes prior to smoking.


I am a rub man myself, but my eaters overwhelmingly prefer sauced ribs, so that's what I have been doing for the last couple years.  That means the emphasis shifts to two liquids: the mop liquid applied periodically while smoking, and the sauce applied during the final stages of cooking.

Since pecan smoke has a very mild, mellow influence, I decided to pair it with whiskey based liquids/sauces (with hickory, I find that beer based liquids/sauces work great).  This part can be done to your tastes -- basically anything that you like to drink can be doctored into a mop liquid and sauce.  Here, I took a bit of whiskey, bbq sauce (make sure to use one without smoke flavor), honey, oil, water, salt, and pepper.  I cooked it down until most of the alcohol taste was gone (not being a whiskey man, I'd really call it paint thinner taste), and viola!



That last part might make your house smell like a distillery, so make sure everybody is OK with that (in our case, my wife is the whiskey drinker in the family, so she was OK with it).  Add some ice cubes to cool it, and we have the mop liquid.  I'll augment it with more bbq sauce later on for the final cooking.  Now we're ready to smoke.


Though you can't see it, the red bucket has the pecan chunks soaking in water.  I soak them for about 1-2 hours, but also use some dry chunks while cooking as needed to keep the smoke continuous.  I give the grill about a 15 minute head start on the wood to get smoke going, and then add the ribs.


Ribs are placed meat-up.  This is a 4-burner gas grill (a very versatile setup), where one burner (off to the side) is used to fire the wood chunks and provide indirect heat to the ribs at 250F.  I will cook this way for 2-2.5 hours, replenishing wood as needed to keep the smoke going.  Every 30 minutes, I spin the ribs 180 degrees on the grate and mop them.  Here's one of those breaks, about halfway through the cooking process:


At 2 to 2.5 hours (whenever my last round of chunks stops smoking), I pull the ribs, sauce them, and wrap in foil (meat side down).


Now the ribs go in the oven, also at 250F, until the total smoke/cook time reaches 6 hours.  That gets us to the perfect tender fall-off-the-bone and melt in your mouth stage.  If you like ribs with more fight in them, stop at 4.5-5 hours (and make sure you have toothpicks or floss ready afterwards).

Note: you could do the final cooking stage in the grill at 250F, still using foil, but don't run any more smoke after the 2-2.5 hour mark.  Me, I like to save some propane for my next project, and the transition to indoor oven cooking gives me more control over the process with less babysitting.  Plus, it's a good time to shower up and wash off the smoky mountain man musk built up during the smoke phase.

At 6 hours, this is what we get:


Note how the meat has pulled away from the bones.  Taking a core sample, we see good smoke penetration:


Pecan give a much more intense, and deeper red smoke ring than hickory, but the flavor is a lot more mellow and subtle.  Thats why I think the whiskey sauce really pairs well.  Now, the only thing left to do is hook up some corn bread and sides, and dig in.  Enjoy!

post #2 of 6
 Only one way for me to know if this was successful. Can you ship me some?
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
 Sorry, all gone.  But I might bring some to Snowy Luau at Timberline WV in a couple weeks, if I can make it up there that weekend....
post #4 of 6
Very nice Skier219!

I too love to cook...and eat. (I know that's no surprise to you now that we've met) This looks too good not to try. Maybe some nice home made slaw and and a biscuit on the side?

Definitely will try this one.

You put the Mothership's away for the season or what?
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by theconz View Post

You put the Mothership's away for the season or what?

They are tuned and waxed, but not scraped, so they are ready for action or summer storage, whichever comes first!  I've had some epic late-season powder days in March/April in WV, so I am hoping for the former.  Could always cook up a late season Alta trip too, though I am about sick of flying at this point.  But some of the deepest powder I ever skied at Alta fell in early April 2008.  They got about 4 feet during the week I was there, with Bluebird weather no less.
post #6 of 6
 When we were in Utah, a local told us about Pats BBQ, and warned us that it was "off the beaten path and don't judge it by first appearance"
When a local says that, you know it's going to be good.
We found a little cement block building in an industrial area of SLC, (next to a hydraulic repair shop) the floors were coated much like a shop floor would be with a sealer and the walls were painted random colors.  The tables were none other than log picnic tables and beer box's were on the table with an assortment of plastic utensils (plastic wrapped of course).
That is where we experienced some of the best BBQ I've ever sunk my teeth into!
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