Tag: ribs

Honoring Law Enforcement – Labor Day 2015

I’m a little late in posting this, but I wanted to share this experience.  I had read on the interwebs about a challenge to all the pitmasters who would be cooking on Labor Day weekend, to set aside a little extra and honor the men and women of law enforcement with some BBQ.

 As I was finishing up the ribs on Sunday afternoon of Labor Day weekend, I remembered the challenge.  Since I had extra, we wrapped up a side of ribs, scrawled a note on a thank you card, and sent my wife and nephew on the short drive to the local police station.

There, they presented Officer Blomberg with ribs and a heartfelt “thank you” for serving and protecting the citizens of our community.  He was super grateful and it warmed our heart to be able to express our appreciation and share some of what we have been blessed with.

So now, I pass the challenge on to you. The next time you fire up the BBQ pit, (or oven, stove, etc.), set aside a little extra and remember the first responders and public servants.  They’ll appreciate it for sure, and you’ll be reminded of how blessed you are.


Ribs on a Medium Big Green Egg

I’ve cooked on a large Big Green Egg for nearly 7 years.  I’ve also had the opportunity to cook on an XL a few times at Grillfest when I’ve done the Big Green Egg demos for the local dealer.  But until recently, I’d never cooked on one of the smaller Eggs.

Over Thanksgiving, we made our annual trip to Pittsburgh.  My Brother-in-law recently scored a medium Egg off of Craigslist, so while we were visiting I had the chance fire it up for a side of ribs.

Here are my observations about cooking on the Medium vs. my Large.

  • I can lay 3 sides of baby back ribs flat across the cooking grate on my large.  You certainly can’t do that on the medium.  
  • I’m not sure you could cook overnight without refilling the charcoal.  A full load of Royal Oak lump only burned for ~5 hours (I grilled pork tenderloing when the ribs came off)
  • It sure seemed like the medium cooked ribs quicker than my large.
  • It was cold, but it felt like I had the vents open wider than I’m used to on the large to maintain a 250 dome temp.

There were no complaints with the finished product, but given my choice I’d prefer a large Egg for most things.  However, I admit that I may be biased by my familiarity with the large.

What about you?  Ever cooked on the other size Eggs?  Leave me a comment and let me know what you though of your experince.



Recap: Pig-a-palooza 3

When I crawled in bed on Saturday night, my wife asked, “Did you have fun at Pig-a-Palooza”?  I informed her that the question wasn’t one that should be asked at the end of a 21 hour day.  But, ask me again in a couple of days. 

Well, it’s been a couple of days and I can finally say “Yes, it was fun”.  I always enjoy cooking BBQ, feeding folks who have never had good BBQ, and seeing their reaction.  This year’s event delivered on all three, and we raised money for a good cause at the same time.

My good friend (and fellow pitmaster) Dave and I arrived at the park at 2:30am.  We had the cooker lit, the pork butt seasoned, and the meat on by 4:00am.  I was figuring on an 8 hour cook time based on my most recent cook.  I’d need the butts to start coming off the cooker at noon or shortly thereafter to make room for 24 sides of ribs (that’s 72 portions when you serve 4 bones/plate).


As noon approached, I began to get nervous.  I wasn’t seeing the butts get to where they should be and we needed to get the ribs on.  We got about 1/4 of the ribs on and I was out of space.  So at 1:30, we decided it was time to start a fire in the grill that was provided for cooking burgers and dogs, wrap the butts that were close in foil, and let them finish there.  Disaster averted.  We were able to get all the meat done by serving time or shortly thereafter.  

We began serving food at 4:00pm and saw a steady line of hungry folks for the next 4 hours.  Now, we’d planned to serve BBQ as long as we could and then sell burgers and dogs when the band began playing somewhere after 7:30.  Boy, did we misjduge the turnout.  

In the first hour, we recognized that we were gonna be short on sides, burgers, dogs, soda, plates, and chips.  We sent someone to the store for more food 4 times during the event.  While I can’t make more BBQ  in a couple of hours, we can keep grilling burgers and dogs.  So we did.  But even then, we were completely sold out by 8:00pm and couldn’t reasonably get additional product quickly enough to keep cooking.  Hey, that’s a good problem to have.  


All this just speaks to the turnout for this year’s event.  I’d estimate that we saw at least double (if not triple) the turnout this year.  I’ve thought some about why that it is, and I figure it like this. We experienced a perfect storm.  The event has momentum.  The band was very notable and entertaining.  And, we had exceptional weather.  All the ingredients to make the event a resounding success.

Or, maybe they just came for the BBQ!


Labor Day Ribs

Labor Day weekends, we typically have house guests and that means BBQ.  This year, my brothers-in-law & their families visited and we decided to do a big load of ribs.  Cooking on the Backwoods Pro Jr, that means I have the capacity to do roughly 40 sides of ribs at once.  

Now I’ve never actually filled it up, but we did do 15 sides on Saturday.  It takes 4-5 sides of ribs to feed our famliies, and the rest we shared with friends and neighbors.


I started with baby back ribs from Sams, and trimmed and prepped them first thing Saturday morning.  I had the Backwoods Pro Jr. running at temp around noon and put the ribs on.  Around 5:30, we began wrapping the ribs and handing them off to folks who dropped by and we fed our clan.


I did hold 2 racks back, one of which will head to Columbus, OH tomorrow and the other to Pittsburgh, PA.

Next up, brisket for dinner on Sunday night.  My BIL’s have taken to calling Labor Day Weekend, “Meatfest”.




BBQ Ribs in 2 Easy Steps

When I first began trying to create great ribs, I stumbled upon the 3-2-1 method. That’s the method that involves 3 hrs in the smoke, 2 hours in aluminum foil, and another hour in the smoke (or a variation of these times).


That method produces pretty good ribs, but there are some that say the time in foil is steaming the ribs, not BBQing them, etc. I say if you like your ribs that way then have at it.  In fact, I was a 3-2-1 guy myself until this summer.  I’ve had the chance to cook more ribs this season than ever and here’s what I’ve learned.

  • Foil…who needs it?  Partly due to the fact that I’ve begun to cook on a Backwoods Fat Boy where doing a whole lot of ribs at once makes foiling a huge, time consuming effort, I no longer wrap my ribs in foil.  The Backwoods & the Big Green Egg maintain a moist cooking environment and I don’t find that I need to bother with the foil to get great results.
  • Cooking at a little higher temp isn’t a bad thing.  I’ve always tried to keep the cooker at 250*, but it turns out that most things are just as good at 275*.  When demonstrating the Big Green Egg this summer, it was hard to keep the temp below 275* what with everyone wanting to see the meat on the cooker.  Frankly, those are some of the best ribs I’ve done.
  • Patience, as I’ve stated earlier, truly is a virtue.  Foiling the ribs and messing with all that always seemed like the magic to getting really tender, juicy ribs.  But guess what, if you’re patient and let things take their own course, good things will happen.
  • 3+2+1=6  Now I didn’t have to take up BBQ to learn that math, but my new approach to BBQ’ing ribs has them finishing in that amount of time or less…usually less.  I think that foiling made me feel like I was a more integral part of the process than I really am.  Frankly, the fire & the smoke are doing all the work and don’t really need my involvement othen than tending the fire.

So my revised rib process looks like this:

  • Put the ribs on
  • Take the ribs off when they’re done

Doesn’t get much simpler than that!


Rib Pickin’

It had been awhile since I’d done ribs on my Big Green Egg, but with the weather hovering around ~70 degrees I decided Saturday was a perfect day to fire up the cooker.  So off to the store I went for some ribs.  When I got there, all that was available were spare ribs.  Now I usualy cook baby backs but didn’t feel like hunting all over town for them so I just went with St Louis style spare ribs.

 What’s the difference?  Well, baby backs come from “high on the hog” and are typically smaller and more tender.  Spareribs on the other hand come from the belly of the hog, are larger, and typically have more fat.  You also have to deal with a flap of meat on the bone side of spare ribs and a strip of meat and cartilage along the edge.  You can find spareribs with the extra flap and cartilage removed by the butcher.  These trimmed spareribs are often referred to as “St. Louis Style”.

While the spare ribs turned out okay, my family let me know in no uncertain terms that they prefer the “other kind”.  So from now on, I’ll stick to baby back ribs even if I have to chase all over town to find them.