Smoked BBQ Ribs

Here are our ribs after an hour in the oven with BBQ sauce on them.

Here are our ribs after an hour in the oven with BBQ sauce on them.

Two years ago we bought an electric smoker on Father’s Day from Academy. At the time, I really wondered how much we would actually use it but it did seem like something that would be fun to have. Now, two years later, I don’t understand how we lived without it for so long. One of our favorite things to make is smoked BBQ ribs. We uses a 3-2-1 method to cook the ribs that works really well.

The 3-2-1 method calls for smoking the ribs directly on the rack for 3 hours, then wrap the ribs tightly in foil and put back in the smoker for 2 hours, then remove the foil and coat the ribs with sauce and put them back in the smoker for a final hour of cook time. It comes out to about 6 hours of cook time. When you factor in the prep time and pulling them in and out of the smoker, it usually is a minimum of 7 hours for us from start to finish. I want to also point out the smoking temperature is relative to your smoker. We have found that most recipes call for a 225 degrees Fahrenheit smoking temperature but this isn’t enough for our specific smoker. When we cook at 225 degrees, our food isn’t ready in time so we’ve found we need to up the cooking temperature a little for most recipes. I assume there is a little bit of variability in these electric smokers so you might need to experiment a little to find out how your smoker does with different meats.

For the 2 of us, we just do one rack of ribs. However, you can do multiple racks of ribs at a time, depending on the size of your smoker.

Ingredients

  • One rack of ribs
  • 1/4 cup of yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup of dry rub (we used our Ring of Fire Rub)
  • 1/8 cup of apple juice, wine or beer
  • 1 cup of your favorite BBQ Sauce

Directions

Start out by coating your ribs with the yellow mustard. This helps the dry rub stick to the ribs and adds some vinegar to help tenderize them. You won’t taste the mustard when they are done cooking.

Once you’ve coated the ribs with the yellow mustard, then coat them generously with your dry rub. You can use our Ring of Fire Rub or any dry rub you have available. Here in Texas, there are dozens of varieties available at the grocery store.

With your ribs coated in yellow mustard and dry rub, wrap the ribs tightly in a double layer of aluminum foil. Put the ribs in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours but preferably over night if you are planning ahead.

Here are the ribs after they were coated with the Ring of Fire Rub.

Here are the ribs after they were coated with the Ring of Fire Rub.

Prepare your smoker by heating it up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and get the wood chips smoking. Then unwrap your ribs from the aluminum foil and put them in the smoker. Save your foil because you will use it again to wrap the ribs for part 2 of the cooking. Smoke the ribs for 3 hours. Check for smoke every 30 to 45 minutes and add wood chips as necessary.

Here are the ribs when we first put them in the smoker.

Here are the ribs when we first put them in the smoker.

After 3 hours, pull the ribs from the smoker so you can wrap them back in the aluminum foil. I want to point out to close the smoker door after you take out the ribs so you keep the heat in the smoker. I will admit, I learned this the hard way because the first time we smoked them, we were so excited to get them cooked that we forgot to close the door and had to wait for the smoker to get back up to temperature.

Ribs after 3 hours in the smoker.

Here are the ribs in the smoker after 3 hours.

We bring the ribs back in the kitchen to wrap them back in the foil that we used to hold them while they sitting in the refrigerator. Before you seal the foil to wrap them, add the 1/8 cup of liquid. You can use apple juice, wine, beer, or any liquid you want. We use beer because it’s Texas and that’s what we do here.

Here are the ribs being wrapped in the aluminium foil.

Here are the ribs being wrapped in the aluminium foil.

With the ribs tightly wrapped in foil, put them back in the smoker and cook them for 2 hours. At this point you’re halfway through and you don’t have much to do for the next 2 hours. Grab the remaining beer (you know, the one you opened to put in 1/8 cup of liquid in with the ribs) and hang out near the smoker and visit with your family or friends. I find the smell of the smoker is a magnet for getting people to show up in the backyard.

At this point you have a decision to make. Do you want to continue using the smoker or move to your oven for the last hour. We usually move to the oven because it makes it easier to add extra layers of BBQ sauce to the ribs during the last hour. My instructions are for using the oven, however, you can certainly continue using the smoker. If you use the smoker, you won’t need to add multiple layers of BBQ sauce.

Before the 2 hours is up, heat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. You can set the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit if you’re using convection bake.

At the end of 2 hours, it’s time to bring your ribs back in the kitchen. Remove the ribs from the foil wrapping and apply a thick covering of the BBQ sauce. Place the ribs on a a sheet of foil on a baking sheet and put them on center rack of your oven.

 

For this last hour, we pull the ribs out every 15 to 20 minutes and reapply a thin layer of BBQ sauce.

This is the top side of the ribs after we added the BBQ sauce.

This is the top side of the ribs after we added the BBQ sauce.

You can adjust the amount BBQ sauce you apply to your individual taste. We like them really messy with a thick coating of BBQ sauce.

Here are our ribs after an hour in the oven with BBQ sauce on them.

Here are our ribs after an hour in the oven with BBQ sauce on them.

We served these Father’s Day ribs with some steamed Patty Pan squash and German Potato Salad.

Smoked Ribs, Patty Pan squash and German Potato Salad

Smoked Ribs, Patty Pan squash and German Potato Salad

Smoked Doña Sauce – a Texas twist on a jalapeño sauce

A couple years ago I posted a jalapeño sauce called the Doña Sauce.  It’s a local favorite and can be found in some variation at most of the Mexican food restaurants in Austin. Once we got our smoker last summer we started smoking the ingredients, and wow does this twist make a difference. We ALWAYS have at least one container of this sauce in our refrigerator! The smoke flavor is a great addition to this sauce.

This recipe makes about 1 liter of sauce and takes about 2 and one-half hours to complete. The majority of the time is in the smoker so the active preparation is only about 30 minutes. If you don’t have a smoker, you can grill the peppers or use our original Doña Sauce recipe.

For our wood chips, we use a 50/50 ratio of mesquite and hickory. When we use the smoker, we take advantage of it and add vegetables. For example, today we’re smoking a chicken to take over to my cousin’s for dinner in his backyard. We just added a tray of the peppers and garlic above the chicken to the smoker.

Here’s a tip for variations: you can use any pepper you want or have available. In our original recipe, we only used jalapeño peppers. In this recipe, we substituted some of the jalapeño peppers with 2 poblano peppers. This reduces the heat somewhat and gives it a slightly sweeter flavor. You can also substitute hatch chili peppers, Anaheim peppers or even sweet bell peppers to reduce the heat and make it sweeter. Austin’s HEB grocery store hosts an annual Hatch Chili Pepper Festival in mid-August so we’ll be preparing some hatch pepper sauce as soon as the pepper start showing up in the stores.

Ingredients

  • 10 medium jalapeño peppers
  • 2 medium poblano peppers
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of salt, divided

Directions

Heat your smoker to 250 F and get your wood chips ready. Once your smoker is hot and the chips are putting off smoke, place your whole jalapeño peppers, whole poblano peppers and garlic haed on a tray and put in your smoker. Smoke the peppers and garlic for one and one-half hour. After the 1.5 hours, the pepper skin will have started pulling away from the pepper and they’ll have a duller green color, kind of like an olive green color. This is what you’re looking for. Put them in a container to cool until they are able to be handled, about 15 minutes.

Smoked peppers and garlic.

Smoked peppers and garlic right out of the smoker.

Once the peppers and garlic have cooled, prepare the vegetables. For the jalapeño peppers, cut in half and then pull out the seeds and inner membrane. To make it spicier, leave some of the inner membrane and seeds. We usually leave about half of the seeds and membrane, but we like it hot. For the poblano peppers, cut them in half and remove the seeds. Finally, break the garlic head apart and separate out the garlic cloves. I know it seems like a lot of garlic, but trust me, it’s not too much. When you smoke them, they get a sweet, creamy flavor and lose the bitterness of raw garlic. The skins should come off the garlic cloves very easily. You don’t need to cut up the cloves of garlic.

 

Peppers and Garlic ready to be blanched.

Peppers and garlic after they have been prepared.

Put the peppers and garlic in a large pot like in the picture below.

Peppers and garlic in pot

These are the peppers and garlic before the water is added.

Add enough water to cover the peppers and garlic and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil and then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Peppers and garlic covered in water.

These are the peppers and garlic covered in water.

Now, use tongs to move the peppers and garlic to your blender. Add the 1/2 cup olive oil and the remaining teaspoon of salt to the blender . Add about 1/2 cup of the water that you used for the peppers to boil in. Keep the rest of the water to use to get the consistency you are looking for.

Peppers, garlic & olive oil in blender.

The peppers, garlic and olive oil have been added to the blender.

Use the food processor mode to blend the ingredients into a creamy smooth sauce. At this point, taste the sauce and check for flavor and consistency. we usually add the rest of the salt and another 1/2 cup of water. Depending on your peppers and how thin you want your sauce, you can adjust the flavor with additional salt and water to your preference. Use the blender to mix the additional salt and water until smooth and creamy.

Here is the final stage of the Smoked Doña Sauce. If you look close, we are almost exactly at 1 liter of sauce. Put the sauce in a non-reactive container (we use glass) and store it in the refrigerator. You can use this as a sauce for chips or add it to anything you want.

Blended Doña Sauce

This is the blended Doña Sauce.

Smoked Corned Beef Brisket

This is a pretty simple variation of the standard St. Patrick’s day meal. We bought an electric smoker last summer and we’ve been using it pretty regularly. When Curt was getting his corned beef ready for St Patrick’s day, he noticed that the package had an alternate method of cooking the meat. It was for cooking it in the smoker. He couldn’t pass up this new option.

Smoked Corned Beef

Smoked Corned Beef

Ingredients

  • 1 package of corned beef
  • Wood chips for your smoker
  • BBQ beef rub (optional)
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

Here's a picture of the package that had the cooking instructions.

Here’s a picture of the package that had the cooking instructions.

Heat your smoker to 275 F.

Prepare your corned beef by removing it from the package and rinsing with water. Pat the meat dry and then season with your favorite beef rub.

Add your favorite wood chips. We used a mix of Hickory and Mesquite. Smoke the corned beef fat side up until the internal temperature reaches 160 F. This should take about 2 1/2 hours to 3 hours.

Preheat your over to 350 F for the final step before you remove the corned beef from the smoker.

Remove the corned beef from the smoker and wrap in foil, adding 1/2 cup of water.

Place the foil wrapped corned beef in the oven. Cook until the internal temperature is 195 F, which should be about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Smoked Acorn Squash

Fall is one of my favorite seasons for food. After months of eating fresh tomatoes, light chicken breasts and other summer foods, I am ready for hearty, savory fall foods! We recently purchased some acorn and butternut squash at Trader Joe’s. They have great squash and I love trying new recipes. Now that we have a smoker, we’re giving it a try in our smoker.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large acorn squashes, halved and seeded
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions

Cut the butternut squashes in half and then clean out the insides of all the seeds. Cover the cut pieces in the olive oil and then cover the cut area with foil. Make sure that you cut holes in the foil to allow the steam out and the smoke to get in. Place the squashes in the smoker with the cut side down and smoke for and cook at 225 degrees F for 1.5 to 2 hours, until tender.

Acorn squash in the smoker

Acorn squash in the smoker

In the picture above, there are two squash halves on the top row and a parted out chicken on the lower row. Instructions for smoking the chicken will be in another post.

While the squash is cooking, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder and cayenne pepper and mix it with the melted butter. Once the squash has cooled, pour a spoonful of the butter mixture onto each of the squash halves.

We have found that serving a full half of the squash is a pretty big serving. If you have other sides, you could serve each plate with 1/4 of squash.

20151017_203657_S 6th St

Electric Smoker by Masterbuilt

Over Father’s Day weekend this summer we bought an electric smoker at Academy. Specifically, we got the 40″ Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smokehouse with Window. Here’s their picture of the Smokehouse that they use for promotions:

Mastbuiltphoto

As a note, the picture above shows way too much food in the smoker. It’s recommended not to over stuff the smoker because the smoke can’t circulate as well.

Here’s my review of this product after using it very frequently over the summer:

First off, we purchased the last one in stock at our local Academy. It was Father’s Day Weekend and they were running a lot of sales and it went fast. We really planned on getting a smaller smoker but the sale made this one cheaper than the 30″ model. That made it a no-brainer for us! We’re always looking for a bargain or a discount so how could we pass this up.

The purchasing process was pretty smooth. It did take us a long time to get assistance in the appropriate department. I guess it was about 10 to 15 minutes. Once we found an Academy employee who could help us, he was extremely helpful and friendly. He didn’t know a whole lot about the electric smokers, probably because he was a young man in his late teens/early 20s and never had an opportunity to use one of these smokers for himself. It took him a long time to find it in their back storage area but that’s reasonable since it was the last one and it was a busy holiday weekend. Once we actually had it brought out from their back area, the checkout and leaving process was smooth. He gave us a little piece of paper that told the checker what we were buying and then he was waiting for us at the front door with the smoker in it’s large box.

The box is large and you’ll need a truck or SUV to bring this home. Once you get home, it’s really easy to put this together. Inside the box, Masterbuilt did a great job of protecting the unit and keeping it secure. After getting it out and removing the Styrofoam from the smoker, it was easy to get it assembled and ready to use. Once you put it together, you’ll have to pre-season it by turning it on and letting it run for 3 hours.

Some of the tips we read online that help us out are:

  1. Wrap the drip tray in clean foil before each use. This makes it a lot easier to clean up after you’re done cooking for the day.
  2. Clean off the window after each use before it completely cools off. This helps keep it clean and you won’t have to scrub off the smoke residue once it dries.
  3. Wipe off and clean around the temperature sensors on the back panel after each use.
  4. Clean the trays while your food is resting and the trays are still warm. This makes it a lot easier to clean.

After we had used the smoker at least once a weekend for a month, it stopped getting hot. It was like it thought it was already at the target temperature when it wasn’t even close. We contacted Academy and they said we could return it or exchange it, however, they didn’t have any replacements in stock and didn’t know if they would get any more because it was after the season for these products. So, we contacted Masterbuilt and they also offered to replace it. However, before we had them replace it, we read about cleaning the temperature sensor. This is when we learned about tip #3 above. Ever since we started cleaning the sensor, it has worked like a dream and we haven’t had any problems with it.

One thing to remember is that you have to set a length of time to use the smoker. The first time we tried to use it, we didn’t realize this so it didn’t get hot. Once we figured this out, we figured out the expected time and then set the timer for that time plus 30 minutes. Adding a little time at the end allows you to keep it smoking if the internal temp isn’t ready. Also, the remote control can actually turn off the smoker. We thought it was turning off the remote controller, but no, it was turning off the smoker. For this reason, I’d recommend not letting your kids play with this remote. It is definitely not a toy and can mess up your cooking if someone adjusts the settings by accident.

That’s it for the review. I highly recommend this smoker and we’ve enjoyed using it for all types of meats and vegetables!

Here are some helpful links:

  • Masterbuilt Website – You can get product specifications and user manuals
  • Smoking Meats Forum – This website has tons of recipes and links to youtube videos showing how to actually use the smoker
  • My Best Smoker – This website also has instructions and recipes for electric smokers