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Tender and Delicious Brown Sugar Smoke Ribs

These are the ribs that started it all.

If it weren't for these tender, sweet, smoky, and savory, baby back ribs, Station 1923 might not be here today. I created Brown Sugar Smoke with the goal of achieving finger-licking ribs that would leave people asking, "ay, what sauce you put on that?"

And as you'll soon find out, the answer is, "what sauce?"

It's all in the process! To make my signature Brown Sugar Smoke ribs, you'll need a few things from the kitchen:

As far the non-edible (or drinkable) things, you'll also want to have:

  • paper towels
  • aluminum foil
  • cutting board or parchment paper
  • storage bags or plastic wrap
  • sauce brush
  • tongs
  • gloves (optional)

My preferred method of cooking is the smoker (I use a pit boss vertical), but this recipe also works for the grill. Just omit the alcohol to avoid setting your grill going up in flames. If you'll be smoking, whichever wood chips or pellets you have on-hand are fine. I've done these ribs with Pit Boss' competition blend, hickory, pecan, mesquite, cherrywood, and others — and you really can't go wrong.

If you like visuals, there's a video below that details each step. Press play, catch the vibe, and read through the rest of this post for more tips and information!

Now let's get cooking!

Step 1: Clean Ribs

Rinse, wipe, trim — whatever "cleaning meat" means to you. Just make sure that when you lay them out on your cutting board, tray, or parchment paper, that you dab away the excess water with paper towels.

For these ribs, I prefer to leave the membrane on. Keeping the membrane attached makes the ribs more tender, and comes in pretty handy during the cooking process. You'll see what I mean soon.

Step 2: Add Mustard

Squeeze a generous amount of mustard onto the ribs and use a brush or your hands to distribute it evenly on both sides. Mustard helps tenderize the meat while allowing your rub to stick.

Step 3: Add Rub

Add a generous amount of Brown Sugar Smoke to each side of the ribs. Don't be afraid to pack, rub, and massage it in. Make sure those ribs are covered!

Step 4: Marinate

Return your ribs to the refrigerator, either inside a storage bag or cutting board/tray covered with plastic wrap. You'll want to leave them in for at least 2 hours, but can let them sit overnight if you'd like. My preference is overnight, but sometimes I just have to work with the time I've got.

Step 4a: Heat Your Smoker/Grill

One hour prior to smoking or grilling, remove the ribs from the refrigerator and heat your smoker to 225 F. If using a grill, low and slow is the name of the game. The best way to do this is with indirect heat — meaning you'll fire up one side of the grill only.

Step 5: Cook Time Part 1

Once your ribs are ready to go, place them in your smoker (or grill) unwrapped, and with the bone side down for 3 hours. For my grillers, place the ribs on the side of the grill without flames and monitor them regularly. They may be ready well before the 3-hour mark.

Step 6: Foil Time

Once you hit the 3-hour mark, pull the ribs off and prepare to wrap them. Wrapping in foil helps to increase the internal temperature of the ribs, while preserving all those tasty juices to make them fall-off-the-bone tender. Lay down enough foil to thoroughly wrap your ribs. Add a sprinkle of Brown Sugar Smoke, a drizzle of honey, and a splash of whiskey (or bourbon). Wrap carefully. Use a second piece of foil to prevent dripping.

 

 

When the juices from the ribs, the rub, honey, and whiskey come together... trust me. It's an aroma you won't ever forget.

Step 7: Cook Time Part 2

Now your ribs are ready to return to the smoker or grill. Place them inside, bone side up for another 2 hours. If you have temperature probes, now is the time to break them out.190 F is the ideal internal temperature for unbelievably tender ribs.
 

Step 8: Unwrap and Baste

At the 2 hour mark (or 190 F, whichever comes first), remove your wrapped ribs. Be careful! There's going to be a lot of juice in that foil. Allow them to rest for about 15 minutes before opening.

 

Optional:

After unwrapping, I use a little more honey (and/or the juice) to coat both sides of the ribs, and return them to the smoker one final time (for 20-30 minutes) without foil. This final stage is what gives my ribs the "sauced" look, without actually being sauced.

 

If you love the way your ribs look when they come out of the foil, then you can skip the last step! Either way, you'll love them.

 

Thinking about giving this recipe a try? Don't forget to tag @station1923 on Instagram when you do! I can't wait to see how you get down.

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