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Competition Ribs Practice

Today was competition ribs practice.  I’m working on some new flavors for the upcoming season and this was the first attempt with a new rub and sauce combination.  It was also the first time I used the Smoke-EZ and BBQ Guru modifications on the Weber Kettle.   With all these firsts, I was a little concerned, but everything worked out great.

I’m using a combination of Simply Marvelous Season All and Sweet Seduction.  I wrap them up and put them in the refrigerator for about four hours.

I set up the charcoal in a half circle around the Smoke-EZ ring.  This should give me plenty of burn time for this cook.

Then I added some pecan chunks and the water pan filled with boiling water.

I set the Guru to 275 degrees and when the temperatures leveled out I put on the ribs.

After one hour, I spritzed them with some apple juice.

After two hours I brought them inside and doused them with a concoction of melted margarine, honey and sriracha sauce.

I added some apple juice to the pan and covered it with foil.

I didn’t want to waste all the extra space the Smoke-EZ provides, so I seasoned up a few yardbirds and put them on the bottom rack before the ribs went back in.

So, an hour and a half more for the ribs and a brush of my new competition sauce and here’s how the ribs turned out.

The flavor was exactly what I was looking for.  The sauce complimented the rub very well, and the Smoke-EZ and Guru mods performed flawlessly, a very successful practice for sure.  The chicken turned out great too.

35 Responses to “Competition Ribs Practice”

  • Steve:

    They look beautiful.

  • Thanks again for another great post.

    It looks like you have switched things up some. I have been getting pretty good results following the process you give in your June 4, 2011 post. Any insights as to the difference in methodology? Specifically I was wondering about the step where you put a layer of glaze on the foil and wrap the ribs meat side down.


  • John:

    I’m a CBJ and those ribs are 9’s all the way. Wish I could have tasted them.

    Regarding the Smoke-EZ. Overall what was your impression? What was the outdoor temperature? Does it have any leaks (where Smoke-EZ) and kettle join up?

  • Mister Bob:

    Hi Dave, the method I used for this cook, is my attempt to break away from the ‘Johnny Trigg’ method that everyone seems to be using these days. My thought is that while face down in the glaze, I may be losing some of the spices on the meat side. The results were very good, but it’s still a work in progress. That’s why I called it practice. Next round, I may do the same cook with the ribs sitting on a rack inside the pan. Stay tuned…

  • Okay, makes sense. Keep practicing!

  • Mister Bob:

    Hi John, The Smoke-EZ performed very well once I dialed it in. The way I set up my fire, holding 275 steady, with a 10 cfm Pit Viper fan fully opened, required the top vents to be half closed. The temperature outside was in the low to mid 40’s throughout the cook.

    As for the seal; the bottom of the ring sits on the bowl tightly, with absolutely no leaks. This is the most important spot for a good seal. The Kettle’s lid however sits a little loosely on the top of the ring, and there was smoke leaking out there. I will be adding a gasket.

  • js-tx:

    Outstanding as usual! Thanks for posting. How do you like the sriracha sauce? Is it completely different from tiger sauce? Have you heard of the Texas Pepper Jelly products? I talked to the owner this past weekend at the SA rodeo cookoff and he let me try some BBQ sauce that he’s going to be coming out with soon, it was really good stuff. I think it’s some of his rib candy products mixed with his own BBQ sauce.

  • Mister Bob:

    Thanks John. I really like the sriracha sauce, but it’s nothing like Tiger Sauce. Tiger Sauce is more sweet with just a little heat. Sriracha is more like Tobasco Hot Sauce, but with a little more tang.

  • js-tx:

    Are you using real margarine? I know a lot of people like the blue bottle stuff, but the 1st ingredient is liquid soybean oil. So I’m curious why not just use real butter or just oil? Thanks!

  • Mister Bob:

    John, I use ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter’ because I like the taste. If you want to use real butter, clarify it first because the milk solids burn easily.

  • js-tx:

    Cool, thanks for the tip, I never would of thought of that :)

  • Steve:

    Is the sauce brushed on or are the submerged like your chicken thighs?

  • Mister Bob:

    Steve, for ribs, I brush it on. I like to keep the cut edge of the ribs un-sauced.

  • Erik:

    looks great as usual, those look like championship ribs

  • Mister Bob:

    Thanks Erik, I hope the judges agree!

  • Gary:

    Would you mind providing some input on the best way to slice the ribs? Knife type etc.

    My problem is getting uneven cuts & hitting the bone. I’ve tried flipping them upside down thou it tends to smear off the glaze. I took your recent advice on using cooling racks and followed your routine and the ribs turned out excellent. Another great write up. Thank You.

  • Mister Bob:

    Gary, I cut from the back side, with a super sharp Shun Classic 9″ slicer. It does smear the sauce, but I think the quality of the cuts makes up for that. Be careful to keep each cut parallel to the one before, even if the bone isn’t, and try to make them all the same width. Once you flip the ribs back over, touch up with a basting brush and some heated sauce. It takes patience and practice, but I’m sure you’ll be happy with the results.

  • Gary, my exact question. Thank you for asking.

    Mister Bob, any experience/thoughts on the ceramic knives? A friend gave me one and I am a little timid about using the fella.

  • Mister Bob:

    bbqdryrubs, I have a set of ceramic knives that I received a Christmas gift a few years ago. They’re sharp, but not nearly as sharp as my steel knives. The up side of ceramic is that they hold their edge for a very long time if treated carefully. The down side is that you can’t sharpen them yourself, and they are brittle. If you use them for chopping, or cut on glass or stone you could chip the edge. For precision cutting, I prefer to use steel. I use a honing steel often (after every few cuts).

  • js-tx:

    I noticed you didn’t foil the ribs meat side down, like many people do, any particular reason you don’t do that? I did some ribs yesterday, one rack I did something similar to what you did (tiger sauce and meat side down)but I did it in foil vs a pan, and the other I didn’t foil at all. The ones I didn’t foil had a super thick bark, too much for my liking and probably not good for IBCA comps where they have to use super cheap plastic knife and fork to sample the ribs. The ones I did foil were better but not perfect. I think I should of foiled at the 2 hr mark instead after 3 hours.

  • Mister Bob:

    John, this process is my attempt to break away from the ‘Johnny Trigg Method’ that so many on the competition trail are using these days. My thought process is that I may be losing some of the spices while the ribs are floating face down in the liquid. I cook at 275 degrees. I foil after two hours, but I’ve cut down the time in the foil to an hour and a half instead of two, finishing the ribs in smoke while the sauce is setting. It seems to have worked very well.

  • WestCoastSmoke:

    Great looking ribs.
    Question for ya…I noticed you smoke your ribs in a pan or cookie sheet.
    I’m guessing so you don’t lose the juices?

  • Mister Bob:

    WestCoastSmoke, I do it for two reasons, first to make cleanup easier, and second to make it easier to steam them to tenderness. Instead of wrapping each rack with foil, I just add a little apple juice to the pan and cover it with foil.

  • js-tx:

    If you don’t mind me asking, what are your ratios for the melted butter, honey, and Sriracha sauce? Thanks.

  • Mister Bob:

    John, I use about a half cup of honey, a quarter cup of butter and a teaspoon of Sriracha to drizzle over two St Louis racks.

  • Everything looks wonderful. Can you give me any pointers on how to pick out ribs from the supermarket. Is there anything in particular you look for? Of course no shiners but what else? I generally buy spare ribs and trim them St. Louis style. Also, have you been able to tell any difference by using a pan and foiling the pan as opposed to wrapping just the ribs in foil? Thanks in advance!!!

  • Mister Bob:

    Thanks Larry. I look for lots of fat and straight bones. I also look for racks that are about 4.5 pounds untrimmed except for the breastbone removed. Bigger than that, and the bones will be very wide, which I think is less desirable. Lately, I’ve been using the pan and covering with foil almost exclusively instead of wrapping tight. I haven’t noticed difference in tenderness. I’ve also been keeping the racks bone side down throughout the cook. I think they retain more of the flavor from the rub that way.

  • Larry:

    Thanks for the info. Unfortunately most of the ribs I get usually come cryovaked two to three slabs at a time and the butcher won’t separate. May have to find a different butcher….

  • […] that walk you through the process I highly suggest you check out the work of Mister Bob over at The Hog Blog.  Mister Bob has some really spectacular stuff.  Another good tutorial with pictures is given by […]

  • js-tx:

    MB, I’ve read the link above ^. It seems a lot of cooks spritz their ribs w/apple juice ever 30 minutes or so. Is this really necessary especially for those that foil w/liquids at one point? I can see maybe twice, but I’d think the temp of my cooker would be unstable if I opened it frequently.

  • Mister Bob:

    I agree John. As long as you’re wrapping in foil, your ribs will be plenty moist without spritzing, and you add the extra flavor in the foil. Spritzing every 30 minutes make sense only if you’re going the whole way in the smoke. Some cookers recover temperature more quickly than others, and some (like the BGE) hold a moist environment better. Like most things BBQ, what works best is what works for you and your cooker.

  • John Jimenez:

    Great recipes Bob, Beautiful pictures, I have made your wing recipe four times and my wife is in Love with them ! Yesterday was practice #1 for these comp ribs ,I did one St Louis and one baby back rack, I had to guess at your finish sauce but for a first try they looked pretty good but not as pretty as yours . One issue with foiling ,I checked them with a thermapen after one hour and they tempted @ 196 which I normally pull at ,being worried another1/2 hour hour would make them fall apart I settled for 15 minutes then sauced them for 15 minutes and they looked pretty fair but judged them a 7 for tenderness. what did I do wrong? and looks ? I would love to send pics . Thanks Bob ,I would appreciate any input as I really would love to duplicate your ribs for looks and I think the taste will follow

  • Mister Bob:


    I don’t check temp on ribs, I go by look and feel. You probably pulled them a little too soon. I leave them in the foil until pull back on the bones looks good, a couple of the bones are almost ready to break through the back, and a toothpick slides in between the bones very easily. At this point they’re pretty much done, with a little time out of the foil to set the sauce and let the ribs firm up slightly.

    Mister Bob

  • Joe:

    Mister Bob I tried your ribs and they were great!!!! I love the systamatic way you work. One question I have, I am using a Paty Q and a Maverick remote theromcoupler. The Party Q registered 275 on the grate however the dome temp was over 300 checking with the Maverick. My question can the dome temp be higher than the actual cooking grate. Also I had set up indirect using D-plates I’m using a Primo XL…I re-calibrated the Q just to be safe.Did I just loose control of my fire??? Should you always wait awhile for the target temp to stabalize.

  • Mister Bob:

    Joe, the dome temperature is always higher than the grate temperature in a Primo or Egg, and 25 degrees is not that unusual, not to worry. As long as your Maverick is calibrated, trust it. As far as waiting for a fire to stabilize before you start cooking, that’s always a good idea.