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When I moved into my house earlier this year, my friends pooled their resources and gave me a very generous wad of cash as a housewarming gift. Naturally, I spent that money on cooking-related items. One of these purchases was a grill and smoker, which the hardware store happened to have on sale. South Florida has a tragic shortage of good barbecue. I came to terms long ago with the fact that I would have to learn to use a grill if I were to ever have any hope of having accent to a decent barbecue meal. Now that I finally have a house, and it has a space in the back big enough for entertaining, it was a good time for me to learn how to use a grill.
I spoke to several self-proclaimed “Grill-masters,” who all advised me to start small. Don’t just jump into “barbecue.” Start with simple “grilling.” Burgers, hot dogs, that sort of thing. And, to be honest, that was the plan. Barbecue, to me, always seem to be some mystical art that only a chosen few could master. And, since I didn’t really trust myself around fire, it seemed best to play it safe. It did, at least, until a discussion with some grill enthusiasts at work brought up the possibility of making bacon-wrapped ribs, which none of them had ever tried doing. A quick online search brought me to this recipe, and suddenly everything else in the world ceased to exist. Day and night, bacon wrapped ribs were all I could think about. I dreamed about them. I yearned for them. I had to have them. So, against the advice of my grilling mentors and my better judgement, I made bacon-wrapped ribs my very first grilling project. And, you know what? They were amazing.
I have made these a few more times, since then, and they are always a hit. The recipe itself is merely a guideline, because there is so much flexibility with flavor combinations as far as seasonings and sauces go.
Start with about 5lbs of pork ribs. Here, I am using the country-style pork shoulder ribs, but I have also used pre-sliced spare ribs. We tend to prefer these because there are more meat on them. Season them with your dry choice of seasoning, then let them set in the refrigerator overnight. You don’t need to brine them. The bacon keeps the meat moist and lets them self-baste. Plus, you may end up with ribs that are too salty.
Starting on one end of the rib, wrap a one and a half to two strips of bacon around the rib, securing the bacon around the rib with toothpicks. I break the toothpicks in half and fasten the bacon to the rib on both ends, as well as at the point in which the two strips of bacon overlap near the center of the rib. Repeat until all of your ribs are wrapped in bacon. Meanwhile, start prepping your smoker.
I found that the best method on my particular grill, which has an offset smoker, was to rotate the ribs periodically. Every 30-60 minutes, I moved the ribs closest to the heat to the opposite end of the grill, and shifted the rest of the ribs over. This helped to keep the cooking more even. I have used both cherry and hickory wood for smoking, with good results.
During the last half-hour of cooking, you can baste the bacon wrapped ribs in the sauce of your choice.
Then, sit back and let the accolades roll in! These ribs are meaty, messy, sticky deliciousness, and every minute worth the time and effort that goes into making them. When done right, you end up with a juicy, smoky rib in a cocoon of bacon that is neither too floppy and falling off, nor too crispy and crumbling off. Just smokey pork perfection.
I am about 8 months into this home-ownership business, and it definitely has its share of headaches. However, being able to do things like smoke ribs in my backyard is definitely worth all of that hassle. I am glad that these bacon wrapped ribs are in my life now, even if my waistline isn’t. You, too, deserve these ribs in your life. So, I am passing the recipe on to you. If I can do it, ANYONE can do it.
Bacon Wrapped Ribs
(Adapted from The Grillin Fools recipe)
- ¼ cup dry rub or seasoning of your choice
- 6 lbs pre-cut pork ribs (spare ribs or country-style)
- 2-3lbs thick cut bacon
- 1-2 cups barbecue or basting sauce of your choice
One or two days before you plan on cooking the ribs, season them with a generous coating of dry rub. Place in a plastic food storage bag and refrigerate until ready to use.
On grilling day, remove the bacon and ribs from the refrigerator and allow to sit out for about 15 minutes. Carefully wrap individual ribs in bacon and secure strips of bacon to the rib with toothpicks. Meanwhile, prepare the smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Smoke ribs at a temperature between 250° and 300° for about 3 hours, or until bacon has rendered sufficiently and internal temperature of the ribs reaches about 170°. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, baste with the sauce of your choice.
Remove from smoker and allow bacon wrapped ribs to sit for 5-10 minutes before enjoying.