The Mid-Term Exam (Baby Got Back)

Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 4 hrs

Yield: Feeds 4-6 people


2 racks of baby rack ribs

BBQ Rub - to taste

10 tbs - brown sugar

5 tbs - unsalted butter


The Mid-Term Exam (Baby Got Back)

So after a good amount of successful short cooks, I knew Mikey was going to turn up the heat on this tutoring. The time had come to dive into the more challenging cooks. What I didn't know was that this time Mikey would be shadowing me.

It started out with the assignment of Ribs. It was the perfect cook for the recent warm summer-like days we had been having. Even better was I picked up a couple slabs dirt cheap thanks to a sale. Initially I had planned to cook one slab, but then I decided why not invite Mikey out and cook both of them. Mikey accepted my invitation so it was set. 

Given the price of the ribs, I decided to go ahead and buy a couple more slabs so I had some in the freezer. No sooner that I did that, my wife suggested we invite another friend over. All of a sudden I realized this smaller cook had turned into a lot of mouths to feed. Mikey was brining some mac-and-cheese, and I was now cooking all 4 slabs. 

Now there was two problems for me I realized going into this. One was the fact that the ambiant probe on the iGrill was dead. Which meant I needed to hold 250 without the luxury of my phone telling me every slight temperature fluctuation. The second problem was grill space. The weber, going indirect was going to hold 3 slabs before I had to get really creative with space. 

Not to mention I also had Mikey's mac-n-cheese to smoke as well as cooking some cornbread in the cast-iron skillet. So I knew we were going to be using both the Weber and the PK. Mikey told me not to worry about it, so I figured he had a plan. 

I had the grills ready to fire up and the ribs set out ready to be rubbed by the time Mikey arrived. It wasn't until that moment that I realized I was going to be doing a cook with him there watching me. I wasn't completely nervous, knowing he wouldn't let me screw up to much without interviening. At the same time I wanted to make damn sure I didn't need him to. 

We opened a couple beers and I began to rub the ribs with Historic BBQ Red. Once that was complete, we fired up the grills. While the charcoal was lighting I asked how I was supposed to fit all 4 slabs on the grill. Mikey looked as though he had no plan. Then out of nowhere he asked if I had any skewers. Thankfully I did. I got the skewers and handed them to Mikey. He then proceeded to tell me that he has never done this before but it just might work.

Within minutes he had meticulously rolled each slab of ribs and secured them in the rolled position with the skewers. I agreed this should in theory work perfectly. After that I poured the lit coals onto the unlit piles in both the weber and the PK. I set the air vents to the position I use most commonly to get 250. 

Once we got the wood burning we put on the ribs. This is where my inexperience and nervousness started to contrast with Mikey in a big way. Not knowing the exact temp of my kettle was freaking me out. Where as Mikey was just super chill about it. In a way it is almost like my crutch which I use to keep from opening the grill. I know damn well I cannot open the grill, so checking the temp every minute allows me to resist and relax. But here I was losing it. I had taken the temp gauge from the lid and slipped it in one of the top vents. It wasn't perfect but it was the best I had.

Several beers later the ribs were getting there. Another challenge for me was knowing when they were done. Mikey wouldn't let me put a temp probe in the ribs insisting that you can just tell they are done by looking at them. Well, maybe he could but I know I can't. It was at this point where Mikey looked at the ribs and then just gave me direction. 

"I need foil, brown sugar, butter, and a knife." he said. 

With that I ran and got everything having no clue what was happening. with the supplies Mikey laid out the foil, retrieved a slab of ribs and unrolled it. Then covered the top with brown sugar and some pats of butter. Then wrapped up the slab completely in foil. We repeated this with all 4 and then set them all back on the grill in a stack. 


Soon, the ribs and all the other sides were complete. We laid out the spread and started eating. These ribs were absolutely amazing. Definitely one of the best meals ever. I guess I passed my exam!

On one hand this was a great turning point, not only in BBQ, but life. A small group of friends hanging out around the grill, drinking and then eating was a wonderful night. And one that honestly I never could do before. I have been there around other people's grills, but not mine. 

On the other hand, it was a great experience in being able to see that you can relax and cook at the same time. Temperatures will fluctuate, but if you are comfortable in your craft, you can take a moment to just enjoy the day. 

In the end there really isn't anything better then days like this one. Good people, good food and good times. I have BBQ to thank for it. Well and Mikey too ;)


Until next post, remember kids.....CHUNKS not chips!




Remove ribs from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.

Season with BBQ Rub on all sides.

Roll each rack of ribs into a circle securing it with skewers.

Set up cooker for 2-zone cooking.

Once the cooker is at 250 degrees, add several chunks of cherry wood to the charcoal.



Place ribs on the indirect side of the cooker  

Let cook while maintaining a cooker temperature of 250 degrees. 

About 2.5-3hrs into the cook, remove ribs. 

Unroll each rack, cover the top with brown sugar and butter.

Wrap each rack in foil and place back on the indirect side of the grill to finish. 

Continue to cook for another hour until ribs reach deisred tenderness.  

Remove from grill and let rest for 10-15 minutes.