a rib dilemma
Ok, so here's the story. I've never cooked ribs on anything but a smoker. However, I'm in a temporary housing situation for the month, and don't have access to my smoker. I couldn't pass up baby back ribs at buy one get two free, so now I have three full racks to cook for tomorrow. Some friends are coming over for dinner after work.
I won't be home from work until after 6, so slow cooking on the grill tomorrow is not an option. I want them to be smoky, so will be using wood to impart that flavor. I think this rules out using the oven start to finish, as I don't want to repay the hospitality of the folks I'm living with by filling their house with smoke. The grill is gas.
I've thought of a few options, none of which are ideal, and am not sure which would be best:
1. Slow cook on the grill tonight; heat back up on the grill tomorrow. This is what I'm leaning towards, but I'm not sure how great they will be reheated. I'm also not sure how ideal a gas grill is for slow cooking. My thought is to turn the front burner on to low or medium-low, and stack the three racks of ribs over the back burner. There is just enough grill space that I could fit the three racks on with just a little overlap, instead of stacking, but then they would be cooking over direct heat. Even on low, I have a feeling this is too much heat.
2. Slow cook in the oven tonight until almost done; finish on the grill tomorrow. This would mean the ribs would only be smoked for a short period, and only after they were already mostly cooked. I have a feeling this would mean they weren't very smokey.
3. Cook entirely on the grill tomorrow. I am not sure it's possible to get good ribs with only an hour and a half to two hours of cooking time.
I'm willing to consider other possibilities that I haven't thought of.
Thanks for the replies. Based on the responses I got, I went with my option 1. They didn't come out exactly the way they come out on my smoker, but they were great. The inside meat was very close to as good as I get it on the smoker, and the outside was actually a little bit better.
While loin back ribs will stand up to traditional BBQing methods...They certainly don't need it! I frequently Direct grill them 18 inches above wood coals..55-65 minutes from Kitchen counter to supper plate is the norm...Baste two or three times with a simple mixture of water, Worcestershire, bacon fat, and a few spoons full of rub...Sprinkle with rub just as you take them up --- This will give you "Dry" ribs....If you prefer "Wet" ribs then sauce the last few minutes of cooking being careful not to burn the sauce....Or you could serve two or three sauces on the side at the table.
You do not need to slow smoke baby back ribs. You can grill them over indirect heat on a gas grill in about 45 min to an hour. Add a foil packet of wood chips to the grill and you are almost there. Its not as good as true bbq'ed ribs but definitely tasty. Finish over direct heat to get a nice crust on it.
I slow-smoke baby backs on my gas grill all the time and they come out great, but not all gas grills can do this. You have the right idea about how to get indirect heat, but whether it will work depends on the ability of the grill to maintain a steady low heat, in the 225° - 250° range, for long periods of time. My Weber does this easily but I have heard of others that can't.
If the one you have there can, the trick is to pre-soak the wood chips, then put them in trays under the grill surface, directly on the burner covers. They sell special smoking trays for this purpose, but you can improvise by making shallow trays from a few layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil.
For dealing with the space issue I have another specially-made contraption, a rack that holds up to four racks up on edge (a fancy version is pictured here: http://www.southernsteamers.com/rib-r... ) Maybe you can improvise something like this out of coat hangers?
Anyway, I have consistently good results with this method. I start the heat (front burner only) at medium to medium-low to get the chips to start smoking, then turn it down to almost as low it goes and watch the thermometer, adjusting it as necessary until the temp stabilizes in the correct range. Then I just check on it every half-hour or so for the next four to five hours until they're done. (Don't ignore it too long - once or twice I've run out of gas partway through and had to change tanks).
I do almost exactly the same thing; only difference is I heat up both burners on high to get the whole grill hot, then turn off one, turn the other one down as low as it will go, put on the wood and the ribs and, as Bob says, watch them every once in a while. With back ribs you can get good result in 2 hours; if you had spare ribs it would take significantly longer. Before cooking the ribs, wet them down with orange juice and season with cajun seasoning. If you want to get fancy, catch the drippings and mix them into some bottled barbecue sauce, for dipping.
I vote for long slow cooking in the oven & then just finishing them on the grill (can do oven the day before--let come to room temp before grill). They won't be as smoky but put a little liquid smoke in your sauce or a little smoked paprika in your rub---both add a nice smokiness. then just use the wood chips on the gas grill for when you finish cooking them--maybe 1/2 hour.
I, too, vote for slow cooking in the oven tonight. I'm no expert on ribs, but for July 4th, I used Alton Brown's method of rubbing them with spices and then cooking them in oven (basically braising them). This was not part of the recipe, but I cooked them in advance, let them cool down, refrigerated overnight. Took them out early the next day to come to room temp, put sauce on and them finished them on the grill. Since they were not cold, they only needed a short time on the grill. They were crispy on the outside, but not smoky. My guests raved about them and a month later, they are still talking about those ribs.
probably a little something has to give.
1. it is possible to cook ribs fairly quickly. they're just different. if you choose this route, i'd suggest grilling them flat over moderate heat for 45-60 minutes instead of kindda slow for two hours. you can generate smoke in a gas grill by putting wet chips in a perforated foil pouch placed on the fire bed.
2. i eat leftover slow cooked ribs all the time. give them plenty of time to reheat, though.
3. i don't see lots of advantages to cooking the ribs a little one day and a little more the next. if you choose this route, smoke them before you roast them, not the other way around. the texture is ok if you use the oven first, but you're right, cooked ribs don't get as smokey as raw ribs.
all in all, i'd be inclined to smoke them over indirect heat the day before--using a rib rack to conserve space on the grill surface. if you can, smoke 'em for 2 hrs at,say, 225,then wrap them in foil and pop them in a low oven for another 2 hrs. the next day, get them to room temp, check the texture and if you're satisfied, lay them flat on the grill surface and sauce them over moderate heat. if for some reason the ribs don't seem soft enuf, wrap them back up and bake some more before grilling the sauce into place.