If you haven't discovered pork country style ribs yet then you are in for a real treat! Full disclosure: these are just a pork butt that's been sliced up to look like ribs but they are delicious, quick and easy to cook, extremely versatile and they don't cost a lot– all of the wonderful things that make a great meal!
I love purchasing these in their boneless format and cutting them up for threading onto skewers and that's exactly what we are doing in this recipe tutorial. I can hardly wait so let's get started.
Pork country style ribs are long strips of pork cut from the pork butt (Boston butt). Sometimes the bone is removed first and they are called boneless pork country style ribs.
You do have to be careful as I have found these cut from pork loin and that's a completely different piece of meat and must be cooked differently. If you look at the meat from a pork loin versus the meat from a pork butt, you will notice that it looks different in texture, marbling and even color. Compare the pork country style ribs with a pork butt while you are in the store and make sure that they are the same. You can also ask the butcher or meat person behind the counter what they are cut from to make sure.
Optionally, you can purchase a pork butt and ask the butcher to debone it and cut it into 1.5 x 1.5 inch strips for you. Most stores will do this at no extra charge for the asking.
What to do if they are cut from a pork loin: Pork loin is much leaner and while it will work, it should only be cooked to a final temperature of 145°F to ensure it is juicy and delicious. Everything else remains the same.
Step 1: Cut Into Pieces
Instead of just merely cutting these into pieces, I take a little time to cut out the large chunks of fat first. There's plenty of fat marbling within the meat so you don't really need the large areas of fat. This is optional but I do recommend it.
Cut the meat into pieces that are about 1 inch square or whatever size you like as long as you try to keep them fairly consistent in thickness.
You can always add more if it looks like it needs it.
Knead, roll, and shake the bag to make sure all of the meat gets rub on it then set the bag in the fridge for at least 2 hours to marinate. Overnight is even better if you plan ahead.
Step 3: Thread Onto Skewers
There is no need to soak the skewers in water if you are cooking these at normal smoking temperatures but if you are planning to cook these on the grill or over direct heat for an extended period of time, then I recommend placing the skewers in a pan of water for about 30 minutes to reduce the chance of them catching fire.
Once all of the meat has been used up, set the skewers aside while you get the smoker ready.
Step 4: Set Up the Smoker
I like to use the Camp Chef Woodwind for these– it has a 22 lb hopper, an ash cleanout that you can get to on the OUTSIDE of the smoker, the ability to slide the flame deflector out of the way via a lever on the outside of the unit to let some of that direct heat get up to the grate where the food is. It's not a replacement for the sear box but it's nice direct heat and you'll get some sizzle on whatever you are cooking.
I've been using Camp Chef pellet smokers for a couple of years now and I've had nothing but great results.
For pellet smokers: start it up in the lowest setting with the lid open then once the flame is roaring (you'll be able to hear it) close the lid and set it on 225 or whatever temperature you are wanting to cook at.
If you are using a traditional smoker or even an electric, gas or charcoal/wood smoker, that'll work too. Just set it up to cook at about 225-240°F with indirect heat and if your smoker came with a water pan, fill it up.
Tip: In cold weather, I recommend filling it up with really hot water to help heat up the smoker faster.
Step 5: Smoke the Meat
Place the rack/pan of skewers on the grate or you can just place the skewers directly on the grate and close the lid. Keep the smoke flowing the entire time if possible and maintain between 225 and 240°F.
You can expect these to take about 2 hours and 10 minutes to reach 185-190°F
Note: Every smoker cooks just a little different and heat flows differently depending on how your smoker is shaped and how the air flows in and out but the cook time estimation should not vary much from smoker to smoker. Even so, smoking meat is not an exact science and, for this reason, cook time is always an estimation and the food is not done until it reaches a certain temperature and/or level of tenderness.
Once they reach their final temperature, they can be eaten as is or you can take them a step further which I'll explain in the next section.
Step 6: Sauce and Sear (optional but very good)
These are great as is but if you like, you can add a little of my barbecue sauce and get a sear on them to bring out some of that “grilled” flavor to go with the smoke.
Searing can be done using the side searbox on the Woodwind SG or you can even place them under the broiler on your home oven for a minute or two.
Brush on sauce them give them some high heat but watch them closely to make sure it doesn't burn. Turn them a time or two to make sure all sides get seared nicely.
Step 7: Serve to Your Guests
I used these as an entree but they also make great appetizers. The cool thing about putting meat on a stick is that you don't need a plate or silverware. You just grab them and start eating right off the stick.
Enjoy these and if you come up with any modifications, let me know what you did.
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Smoke, Wood, Fire: The Advanced Guide to Smoking Meat – Unlike the first book, this book does not focus on recipes but rather uses every square inch of every page teaching you how to smoke meat. What my first book touched on, this second book takes it into much greater detail with lots of pictures.
It also includes a complete, step-by-step tutorial for making your own smoked “streaky” bacon using a 100 year old brine recipe.