Smoked pork country style ribs may be one of my favorite things to eat.. although, I do have a lot of favorites! They are great smoked low and slow and they are equally good grilled up hot and fast so in this rendition, I am smoking them low and slow to get some really solid smoke flavor on them and then turning up the heat to give them a perfect finish.
It is often beneficial to maintain a wet outer surface on the meat to help the smoke to adhere better and to reduce evaporation, especially in cookers that do not use a water pan. For this reason, we are using Cherry Dr Pepper to spray these down along the way. Oh, and I also used the Dr Pepper to create a nice, wet base for adding my original rub (purchase recipes here) to the meat. Worked like a charm!
My original rub was created to do great things and it does just that on these pork country style ribs. Be sure to use plenty on all sides.
I promise you’ll love my dry rub/seasoning recipes and my barbecue sauce recipe or you don’t pay!
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Pork country style ribs are not really ribs at all but rather pork that's cut up into long pieces about 1 to 1.5 inches thick and 6-7 inches long.
Normally these are cut from a pork butt which means there's a lot of fat which gives them a ton of flavor and helps them to stay moist while you cook them all the way to tender (about 185-190°F internal meat temperature).
On occasion, these are cut from pork loin which is a lean cut and not much fat to help them along. These are done and as tender and moist as they will ever get at 145°F.
So how do you tell the difference?
My recommendation is to start out by asking the meat person or butcher where you purchased them. If the meat is packaged elsewhere, he/she may not know.
My second recommendation is to study the texture of a pork butt and a pork loin and you will notice that the meat looks completely different. Over time, you will begin to be able to tell the difference between loin country style ribs and pork butt country style ribs without even asking.
You have to find out one way or another in order to cook them properly.
**If you happen to only be able to find the loin cut and you want to use them this way, then cook them low and slow for the entire time and by all means keep an eye on the internal temperature of the meat. 145°F is the goal and when they reach that temperature in the thickest part of the meat, remove them from the heat immediately.
Here's another option: purchase a pork butt (Boston butt) and ask the meat person to cut them up into country style ribs for you.
Lay the country style ribs in a foil pan or some other container to help contain the mess while you prep them for the smoker.
Before continuing, open a 12-oz can of Cherry Dr Pepper and pour about half of it into a food grade spray bottle set to “mist” or “spray”.. not “stream”.
Set the remainder of the Dr Pepper aside, we'll use it later in the sauce.
Repeat the spraying and the rub two more times to coat all four sides of the ribs with Jeff' original rub.
The ribs are now ready for the smoker. Easy peasy!
Now, I chose to use the Big Green Egg for this since I want to cook them low and slow for a while to get some good smoke on them and then crank up the heat.
Note: You can do these on ANY smoker or even on the grill if you need to and they will turn out great as long as you make sure the heat is indirect. If your cooker will not exceed about 225-240°F then you can simply cook them all the way at that temperature or you can cook them for a while at that temperature and then finish them on the hot grill.
Set up your smoker for cooking at 225-240°F with indirect heat.
I am using my new Kick Ash Basket in the bottom of my Big Green Egg to help with ash removal.
When I am done cooking today and the smoker has completely cooled down, I will simply remove the basket and shake it to remove the ash and bits of charcoal that are too small. This will create better airflow in the firebox for my next cook. A great tool for the BGE and Kamado ceramic cookers!
If your smoker has a water pan, fill it up with water.
When the smoker is ready to go, place the meat on the smoker grate leaving a little space between them to let the heat and smoke get to all sides.
Leave them in this configuration for about an hour.
I recommend spraying them about every 30 minutes or so with the Cherry Dr Pepper.
After about an hour of smoke, it's a great idea to crank up the heat (if you can) to about 275 or even 300°F to finish them off. At this temperature, they will get done in about another hour or so.
Note: If you can't crank up the heat due to limitations of your smoker or some other reason, you can expect them to take another 2-2.5 hours to finish.
Continue spraying them with a fine mist of Cherry Dr Pepper every 20-30 minutes to keep the meat wet. This will slow evaporation and will keep them from drying out on the outside.
Monitor the temperature of the meat and when it reaches 185°F the meat is almost done.
There are a number of different brands and types of meat thermometers. I usually use the “Smoke” by Thermoworks, the company that is known for highly accurate and fast reading thermometers.
The only left to do is to add the final layer of flavor.. the Cherry Dr Pepper barbecue sauce.
My original barbecue sauce (purchase recipes here) mixed with Cherry Dr Pepper is a great basting sauce for these country style ribs and maintains the cherry theme that we've been working on from the beginning.
I mix it in about a 50:50 ratio but you can make it thicker or thinner if you prefer.
Brush the sauce onto the top and sides of the ribs and let them stay in the heat for about 8-10 minutes to caramelize.
Turn them over and repeat the sauce on the bottom side leaving them for another 8-10 minutes or so to caramelize.
Once the sauce is caramelized onto the meat, the country style ribs are finished and ready to remove from the smoker.
Serve them right away or place them in a foil pan covered with foil to hold if needed.
***Note: you get the Texas style rub recipe free with your order!
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These smoked pork country style ribs with a cherry Dr Pepper theme are cooked low and slow for one hour and then the heat is cranked up for that perfect grilled finish.