Smoky Sauna Indoor Ribs
"The actual lines of a pig (I mean a really fat pig) are among the loveliest and most luxuriant in nature; the pig has the same great curves, swift and yet heavy, which we see in rushing water or in a rolling cloud."G.K. Chesterton, British writer, (1874 - 1936)
This recipe was significantly revised and improved on 8/14/2015
If you don't have a smoker or a grill, or you live in a condo, or there's a blizzard, this technique makes tender, juicy ribs indoors all year 'round.
Here's a video of our exploration of the subject of indoor ribs with the wizards at ChefSteps.com. We went to their kitchen/lab in Seattle in summer of 2015, cooked our version of indoor ribs, they cooked theirs and we compared notes. Ours is below.
They started theirs sous vide, a method of gently cooking in a vacuum pack in a hot water bath. We agreed that our rub was better, but their meat was slightly juicier. If you have a sous vide setup, instead of using foil as we did, do as they did, cook the ribs sous vide for five hours at 165°F, and then dry roast at 225°F for two hours.
Now a word on liquid smoke. BBQ snobs turn up their noses at the stuff because they get smoke in their cooker. What happens is smoke comes off combusting wood and condenses on cool meat. Pretty simple. Well that's how liquid smoke is made. Wood is burned, it condenses on cool metal, and then it is bottled. Pretty much the way they make whiskey. So next time you run into a snob who starts to rant about liquid smoke, snatch that bourbon from their hand.
Now a word on Prague powder #1, but of us chose to use a pinch of this stuff to fake a smoke ring. It really doesn't impact flavor, so you can skip it, but if you want to to cook this recipe and pass them off as cooked outdoors, mix 1/4 teaspoon per slab in with the Meathead's Memphis Dust.
Makes. One slab of baby back ribs
Takes. 1 hour to marinate, 4 hours to cook.
1 slab of baby back ribs
1/2 cup liquid smoke
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons smoked Meathead's Memphis Dust
1 cup of smoky barbecue sauce
About the smoked Meathead's Memphis Dust. To amp this up to 11, we make Meathead's Memphis Dust with smoked smoked garlic, smoked onion, smoked salt, and paprika. They are available in some stores or online.
About the sauce. You can use a store-bought sauce or one of the recipes on this site such as "Kansas City Classic Sauce". If you go for a store bought, get one that calls itself "smoky" . That means it has liquid smoke added. KC Masterpiece original is a good example. If you wish, you can add about 1/4 teaspoon of liquid smoke to the barbecue sauce after you taste it.
1) Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs and trim excess fat. Mix 1/2 cup water with the liquid smoke, and marinate the meat in this for an hour. I usually cut the slab in half and put each half in a 1 gallon zipper bag with half the marinade.
2) Season both sides with salt and then Meathead's Memphis Dust. Wrap the meat in foil. Put it in a pan (to catch leaks) in 225°F oven for 2 hours. Called the Texas Crutch, this makes the meat very tender, but not mushy.
3) Now take the meat out of the foil, and put it back in the oven, meaty side up, without the foil to dry roast for another 2 hours at 225°F. This will firm the bark.
4) Read this article to see how to tell when the meat is ready. I use the bend test to make sure it is done. When it is, turn the slab meaty side down. Slather the bone side with the sauce, turn the oven on broil and put the meat under the broiler so it is aligned with the heat source. Broil for 5 minutes with the oven door partially open or until the sauce bubbles, watching closely to make sure it doesn't burn. Leave the door open so the oven cools a bit and to make sure the thermostat doesn't turn off the broiler. Repeat for the meaty side. This direct concentrated heat caramelizes the sugar and creates more deeper flavor. Serve.