Rinse the ribs under cold water and remove any extra clumps of fat that you see.
Remove the membrane or skin on the bone side of the ribs to give the smoke and seasonings better access to the meat. The membrane was already removed on my rack of baby backs but that's not usually the case.
You can slip a butter knife or even your finger under the edge of the membrane and then use a paper towel or even some catfish skinning pliers to pull it clean off.
Whatever you do, do not use that salty stuff from your local grocery store.. you'll hate it, I'll feel like a failure for not teaching you better and it will be a miserable day for all.
Enter my very own original rub recipe (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) which is low on salt and huge on flavor.
I often use mustard or some other condiment as a sticky base to help the rub to stick to the meat and not fall off. On these ribs, I decided to use molasses and it worked beautifully!
Lay down a good layer of molasses.. top and bottom.
Add a really good sprinkling of my original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub).
Note: Always do the bone side first then when you flip it over to do the top (meaty) side, it will stay in that position for the entire time you are cooking them and you won't disturb that nice layer of rub.
Leave them sitting for a few minutes and you'll see that they get a “wet” look. This tells you that the rub has pulled moisture from the molasses and the ribs and has become a nice paste.
The ribs are now ready for phase one in the smoker.
Set the ribs aside and go get that smoker to crankin'!
Set up your smoker for cooking at about 225-240°F using indirect heat.
If your smoker has a water pan.. I highly recommend you use it to create a humid environment inside the smoker. This reduces the drying effect of heated air and serves to help you end up with meat that is more moist.
Once your smoker is ready to go.. let's start cooking some ribs!
Place the ribs bone side down on the smoker grate.
It is also ok to use a Bradley rack, Weber grill pan or even a cooling rack to make an easy job of holding the ribs while they cook.
Let the ribs smoke cook in this way for 2 hours without so much as a peek.
2 hours should have elapsed at this point and it's time to wrap the entire rack of baby back ribs in heavy duty foil.
Tear off a large sheet that's about 30-inces long and 18-inches wide.
Lay one rack of ribs right in the center of the foil.
Pull up the bottom side of the foil over the ribs then pull the top side down over the top of the ribs.
Now fold in the sides and make sure it's nice and tightly sealed.
You can do a double wrap if you like but it's usually not necessary with heavy duty foil. If you use the stuff from the dollar store, you may need 4 layers.
Note: Some folks add liquid to the foil but lately I have been omitting this step as I feel that it is not necessary. The ribs braise just fine in the foil with no additional liquid added. Also, the rub seems to stay intact better without the additional liquid.
Note: An easy alternative to wrapping in foil is to use a long narrow foil pan. Just lay the ribs down in the pan and cover tightly with foil.
Place the wrapped ribs back into the smoker for 2 hours. If you are using an electric, gas or charcoal smoker for this, you do not need to add wood during this time as it will not penetrate the foil and therefore is not necessary.
Can you use the oven for this step? Of course you can! Preheat it to 240°F and place the wrapped bundle right on the top oven rack as far from that lower heating element as possible. I do recommend that you place a pan under the ribs to catch any leaks– “Better safe than sorry”.
So the ribs have been cooking for 4 hours at this point– 2 hours directly on the smoker grate and 2 hours wrapped in foil and they should be plenty tender at this point. You can check them if you like and if they are not tender as you desire, let them keep going in the foil for another 30 minutes or so.
If you have the capability to do so, crank your smoker up to a very high heat setting. I used a pellet smoker for these and set it on 450°F.
Lay the ribs on a large cutting board with the bone side facing up. This will help you be able to see the bones so you can cut between them.
Separate the rack into it's 12 or 13 ribs.. (or however many are left after you sample 1 or 4).
Decent smoke ring 😉
Wrap each rib in a piece of stretched bacon. You have probably heard me talk about stretching bacon before.. I like to stretch bacon before using it to wrap things to make it go further.
If you stretch a 10-inch piece of bacon, it will end up being 16 inches or more long and this will wrap several times around the meaty part of the rib.
Some folks use a toothpick to hold the bacon in place, I don't. Use your own discretion on this. The bacon tends to stick to itself and this works just fine for me.
Place the bacon wrapped ribs back on the smoker grate or you can use one of the racks I mentioned above to make it a little easier.
Give them another quick dusting of Jeff's original rub (purchase recipes here) and they are ready to be crisped up.
This stage is primarily to cook the bacon so the best way to do this is 450°F for about 15-20 minutes. You can put them back in the smoker if you have the ability to crank it up. Pellet smokers and Ceramic cookers will do great with this recipe.
Some other smokers such as propane and even some electric smokers will have the ability to be cranked up some. The higher the heat, the quicker the bacon will get done.
Horizontal offset smokers often have higher heat on the firebox side so placing the ribs on that end for this final step should do the trick.
It may be easier for some to use the oven for this step but make sure to lay the ribs on a cooling rack or similar with a pan underneath to catch the bacon drippings.
The grill will also work great but keep a close eye and turn the ribs as needed so as to not burn the bacon.
Just kidding.. obviously that wouldn't be the “right” thing to do but if that thought doesn't cross through your mind then you don't love ribs as much as I do!
Take the bacon wrapped baby back ribs into the house and watch the natives go through them like they haven't eaten in weeks.