the recipe: Traeger Baby Back Ribs Vol. 1 + 2
the smoker: Traeger Ironwood 885
the time: Vol 1: 3+ hours Vol 2: 7.5 hours
the full nelson: A masterpiece is a work in progress but my belly is motivated for the finish line
Ok everybody, so you probably know I recently got a Traeger grill. Since moving to Austin, the land of smoked meats, my backyard grilling escapades have been exclusively an open fire affair where I unleash my inner Argentinian Asado. Well, now that I got a grill that excels at smoked meats it became time for me to begin my journey of Traeger Baby Back Ribs. Here comes my exploits aptly titled Volumes 1 and 2.
I got baby back ribs as a bit of a compromise for my house. The Mrs isn’t one to typically pick up a bone and chew on it. My kid likes ribs but not gristle. Me? I’m 3rd world/ son of immigrants from South Asia, so I can handle the snap-crackle-pop when it comes to dinner. Regardless I went with lean baby backs. Hit it with the Traeger Pork and Poultry rub and let them sit at room temp. A choice I would later regret.
My first run of Traeger Baby Back Ribs had me set the grill to 225 degrees and spritz the rack with apple juice every 45 minutes. My rack sat out for a while at room temp. That plus my grill spiking as high as 250 got my ribs cooked to an internal temp of 160 in about 2 hours. Faster than anticipated.
My plan for Volume 1 of the Traeger Baby Back Ribs was to smoke till 160 degrees. Pull them(above), then sauce and foil and place them back in the Traeger.
I pulled them at 190 degrees internal temp and got the sides and cutting board ready for the glam shot.
Sauce was courtesy of Micklethwait Craft Meats here in Austin TX. The beans and slaw came from a cookbook called Peace Love and Smoke, penned by BBQ legend Mike Mills. God’s Honest these ribs weren’t everything I hoped for. I needed more smoke. And I need a second shot.
Here comes Operation Traeger Baby Back Ribs Vol. 2
I had a chat with BBQ Queen Danielle Bennet aka Diva Q about how Operation Traeger Baby Back Ribs Vol 1 went. She hit me with some sound advice: match the smoke profile to the BBQ world you are in and accustomed to. Put the ribs in cold, as in straight from the fridge. Hit with apple juice every 30 minutes. Wrap ribs with flavor enhancers like butter and brown sugar and save the sauce for the end, so the last 10 degrees of cook.
This time when I went for the rub, I went heavy.
My sous chef kept me in check with the apple juice spritz.
And as mentioned, I saved the saucing for the end. Speaking of sauce I used Aaron Franklin’s jarred sauce and it was amazing. Also used some Stubbs but in a blind tasting the fam all picked Franklin’s as the best.
Now these were far better, far smokier. I used mesquite pellets since it matches the hardwood charcoal I typically get. I also smoked these low, set the Traeger to 180 degrees. This meant Low and S L O W. The ribs took 7+ hours and my internal temp was stalling at 170. Or my internal patience.
They weren’t as tender as I want them to be but for the first time I ate smoked meats I made myself that tasted like I went to a bbq joint. For Operation Traeger Baby Backs Vol. 3, Im thinking about upping the heat to 210. And planning on time being more of an unpredictable factor. But for now, I have hit on a lot of factors that have my house churning out respectable BBQ smack dab in the middle of East Austin TX, the per capita BBQ capital of the world. Boom.
Recipe for Operation Traeger Baby Back Ribs Vol. 2:
plan on a long cook but planning is everything. I would set aside 8 hours. #worthit