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Smokey BBQ Pepper Jelly Pork Ribs
The perfect combo of sweet and heat with a shimmering lacquered glaze makes these barbecued Pepper Jelly Pork Ribs irresistible.
There’s really not that many different ways to actually smoke pork ribs. Some folks swear by the 3:2:1 method, but I employ the 3:2:0.15 method. That means that the meat gets cooked uncovered in the pit for three hours, then wrapped and cooked a further two hours, then glazed or sauced and cooked another 15-20 minutes, or just until that final layer gels and sets up. As for temperature, I cook at around 225-250f in my JP Signature offset smoker.
While there may not be a variable in cooking method, flavoring is something that you can always experiment with. Here’s how you can mix it up:
Ribs: The Type
My cooking times are aimed at St Louis or Spare ribs, because they’re meatier than Baby Backs. So if you are doing baby backs, you’ll need to adjust your time to be a little less. I love cooking St Louis ribs mainly because their perfect shape appeals to my mild OCD! Best bang for your buck is going to be Spare ribs, as they have the most meat of all. Be cautious though, they have a few nubs of cartilage that you may have to eat around. Wanna know more about rib types? Check out this video. If you’d also like to take a stab (hehe) at trimming your own St Louis competition ribs, watch this guide.
Ribs: The Wood
Pork does marvellously when paired with fruit woods, because the meat is perfect with a little sweet. Woods like peach, apple, cherry are all suited well. As for me, I keep only Post Oak splits in my home wood pile, because it’s hugely available in the Austin area and a really neutral flavored wood. And since that’s the only wood I keep, it’s the only wood I use to run the smoker!
Ribs: The Rub
Here’s where you can really tailor your ribs to your palate. Remember, you’ll likely be adding sweet at the end with the sauce, so bear that in mind when you pick the sweetness level of the rub. I have three go-to rubs for ribs. My own Hardcore Carnivore Red, Meat Church’s Honey Hog and Kosmo Q’s Killer Bee Honey. Whichever you choose, make sure to coat your ribs liberally then let them sit and sweat for about 20 minutes, where the moisture helps the rub stick to the surface.
Ribs: The Wrap
When you come to wrap the ribs in foil, known as the Texas crutch, try using a double layer of foil, and ensure your wrap is very tight. For the record – it makes no difference whether the shiny side is in or out! Before you seal your ribs in foil, throw some good quality butter and honey or brown sugar in there with them.
Ribs: The Glaze
The sauce or glaze is the final stage. Since it’s the outermost layer, it’s the first taste your tongue is going to experience. So consider going sweet at this stage, and a little savory at the rub stage. Here is where the pepper jelly really shines, literally. It transforms the matte surface into a glossy rib-scape. For those times when you’re not using your own pepper jelly, consider Meat Mitch Whomp! sauce or Code 3 Patriot sauce.
What makes this particular pepper jelly so special is the color. It’s all natural, and derived from dried hibiscus flowers! While they don’t impart a taste, they help create an incredible lustre to the finished ribs. You can check out the (really ridiculously) easy recipe to make your own Hibiscus Pepper Jelly here.
Now that you have the know-how, here’s the easy to follow recipe:
Smokey BBQ Pepper Jelly Pork Ribs
- 2 x racks St Louis cut pork ribs
- 4-6 tablespoons of rib seasoning
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 cup Hibiscus pepper jelly
- Fire up a smoker until it's holding temperature at 225-250f degrees.
- Trim the pork ribs of any excess flaps and fat. Remove the membrane from the back using a paper towel to grip, then pull. Season the under (or bone) side of the ribs with the pork seasoning, then flip both racks over and season generously on the meat side, ensuring the surface is well coated.
- Allow the seasoning to sit for 15-20 minutes so that the meat "sweats" and the rub becomes a paste that is well adhered to the surface.
- Place the racks meat side up in the smoker, and cook for three hours.
- Layer two pieces of aluminum foil, then scatter half the butter and half the sugar along the surface. Place one rack of ribs meat side down onto the mixture, and then seal tight. Repeat with remaining rack.
- Place the ribs back in the smoker, meat side down. Cook a further two hours.
- Unwrap both racks carefully, as liquid will accumulate in the foil. Remove them gently and place them back onto the smoker directly, meat side up.
- Use a pastry brush to brush/paint the pepper jelly across the surface, making sure to get in between the rib bones and cover thoroughly. Cook a further 10-20 minutes until the jelly has "set' and gelled in place.
- Remove the ribs from the smoker, and rest before serving.
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