How to Boil Ribs

From the Old Skool Smokers page on the Book of Faces: someone posted a facetious question of how long to boil your ribs. One post wins the interwebs:

I always start with a very large soup pan, fill with water, boil the shit out of it until the water is all gone.  Then you can take your meat out of the fridge and go stick it on the grill.  By no means do I ever even think about letting the meat touch the boiling water as it will take a lot longer for the water to fully boil away, and I am not a very patient of a man.

Props to Dustin Fiegel of Cedar Springs, Michigan.

Categories: Relief, Ribs | Leave a comment

Pork Ribs

Over the past couple of years I’ve gotten used to the Smoke Wagon, and over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing my experience making different types of barbecue.

First up is pork ribs!

Cuts of Ribs

First, let’s talk about terminology. You will hear about three kinds of ribs: baby back ribs, spareribs, and St. Louis style. Let’s take a look at them:

The baby backs come, as the name implies, from near the backbone. They generally have more meat than the other cuts, and are, correspondingly most expensive per pound. They’re smaller, too. Compare them: spareribs on top and baby backs on bottom.

As it turns out, spareribs and St. Louis cut come from the same cut, with the difference being that St. Louis cut has the flap and sternum removed. 

Which one I buy depends on cost – some stores near me will price them the same, and if that’s the case I go for the St. Louis cut, because that’s my favorite cut. Even if I buy the whole spareribs, I trim off the flap end and the sternum any way. Yes, when I do that I cook those parts any way, but I’m not so needing of them that I won’t let someone else trim them for free.


So now we’ve picked our cut. Next, if I bought spares I trim off the flap and the sternum, but this isn’t a must.

The next choice is rub. Here, it’s totally up to you and your taste. Here’s what I do.

At a minimum I use salt and pepper. There are those who insist on kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, and given the choice that’s what I use. But to be honest, I also went a few months using table salt and regular cracked pepper, because they were left over from a party and didn’t cost me anything. I can’t honestly say if they changed the taste any.

Of course, you can stop here, and I guarantee no one will be turning down your finished ribs. But I usually go farther. My favorites are brown sugar, garlic powder, and a small amount of cayenne pepper. Sometimes I also add some chili powder. All I can say is try it yourself and find your favorites.

The Cook

Prepare your smoker the normal way and heat to 250ish. Make sure the grills are clean. I also add a pan of water under the ribs to keep the atmosphere moist. 

If you use an offset smoker, place the ribs crosswise if possible so the whole piece sees the same temperature. If the piece is longer than the grill is wide, then lay it at an angle, with the thicker end closer to the heat.Here, I have a slab of spares, and you can see the sternum and flap, because nothing goes to waste at my house. I’ll use the sternum as an appetizer since it will be done sooner. The flap – all meat – goes to the cook as a reward.

Wood choice can vary. I use white oak for sure, and I add hickory a lot of times. I’ve also used a small amount of mesquite, but I have found that a lot of mesquite is too much for pork. 

Turning the Ribs

Just kidding. Leave them where they are. The smoke will get to both sides just fine.

Wet or Dry?

This depends on your preference, and I’ve made them both ways. If you choose to leave your ribs dry, then you don’t have to do anything until the Wrap.

If you like them wet, do like I do and spritz the ribs every so often with some diluted apple juice to keep them moist.

The Wrap

After about 2 hours of cook, I then move the ribs to a large piece of heavy duty foil. If you want them dry, wrap them and put them back on. 

To me, wrapping gets me all the goodness of wet ribs, without all the hassle of mopping every so often. Just coat them with sauce before sealing the wrap. Here again the choice of sauce is up to you, but my experience is that thinner is better than thicker. I’ve gone to using a mixture of thick store sauce and a thinner sauce, diluted down to the right consistency with a little bourbon. Then they go back on the grill for another couple of hours.


After 4 hours of total cook time, I find most ribs are perfectly done to my liking. To test, the best way is to twist one of the bones slightly – ofthe bone slips and moves, this means they’re done.

Remove the ribs still wrapped. I let them rest a few minutes because I’ve always been told to. Then, cut between the bones with a sharp knife, and serve. 


Categories: Pork, Ribs | Leave a comment

The Swineapple

The Swineapple.   It seems that social media is covered with pictures of boneless pork ribs stuffed inside a pineapple and smoked over indirect heat.   Barbeque aficionados grasped the concept; it seems relatively simple.  Purchase boneless pork ribs and a large pineapple. The actual process to meld the pineapple and pork is far more involved than one might think.

On Memorial Day 2015, my wife and I took on the Swineapple challenge and came out with a satisfying meal.  As background, I am an engineer and she is a designer. We took copious notes on the process from beginning to end.  Photographs and techniques were posted during the day on Twitter.  With a bit of luck, @fillyerhands noticed our efforts and asked for our thoughts. In this article, we’ll cover the preparation of the pineapple, ribs, grill, cedar planks and  charcoal.


We used standard cedar planks available from Lowe’s Home Improvement. The planks were soaked for several hours in a mixture of apple juice and water.  Soaking the cedar planks serves two purposes; the planks should not catch fire during the smoking process and the apple juice soaked cedar planks add flavor and juiciness to the Swineapple.
1 Soaking Cedar Planks

Living in South Carolina, we are bound by state law to barbecue, grill, or smoke every meal, weather permitting, twelve months of the year.  While grilling, we save larger chunks of lump wood charcoal for the times when we need a longer stained heat which briquette charcoal cannot provide.  Cowboy Charcoal and Royal Oak lump wood charcoal are better for salmon, steaks, chicken, and burgers. The house lump wood charcoal from Publix or Fresh Market provides larger pieces of coal for turkey, ribs or a Swineapple.  For this test subject, we used Western Real Wood lump charcoal and Royal Oak lump wood for the firebox.  During the last hour, we added chunks of Jack Daniels Whiskey Barrels for flavor.


We have a Chargriller with an offset firebox for smoking.  The primary ash pan of the grill was emptied of any old debris.  The grill grates were scrubbed with a stainless steel brush.  The secondary firebox was emptied of old ashes and the pan was lined with aluminum foil.  The top vent and side vent were both opened to allow maximum air flow over and around the meat while it is cooking.

8 Grill


Now we’re getting to the core of the project (no pun intended).  The pineapple selected should be the largest one available in your market.  Take a sharp knife and remove the outer layer. Remove the stem. Leave the top and bottom covered by the scaly exterior.  Placing the pineapple on its side, slice the pineapple parallel with the core.  I cut our first one with a 90/10 ratio.  The second one was 85/15 ratio. Don’t throw away the lid. You’ll need it shortly.

Using a serrated knife, gently cut the core from inside,removing the top and bottom. The pineapple flesh between the edges will be relatively simple to remove. The flesh along the core, as well as the between the core and the bottom of the pineapple, is a bit more difficult to remove.  Remember that to maximize the available space for the pork ribs; cut as aggressively as possible while retaining the structural integrity of the pineapple.
3 Hollow Pineapple

I purchased seven pounds of boneless country cut St. Louis style pork ribs from Publix. I could only fit five pounds into two pineapples.  I used my standard Pulled Pork rub; the mix was too salty for this technique. Rather than post a mixture I will not use again, I’ve adjusted the ratio for what we will use in the future.  The ribs can be coated in the following mixture:

1 tbs kosher salt
1 tsp black ground pepper
4 tsp paprika
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbs brown sugar

The eight spices were blended together and then liberally applied to the ribs.

2 Boneless Pork Ribs

4 spice mix

5 Ribs with spice rub

I was able to fit between 32-40 oz of ribs into each pineapple.  The side of the pineapple was placed over the boneless ribs and secured with kitchen twine.  I recommend soaking the twine in water before smoking so that it does not catch fire during the process.
6 Ribs in Pineapple7 Ribs with lid
We covered the outside of each pineapple with thick sliced honey bourbon bacon.
9 Pineapple on Grill10 Bacon on Pineapple
The planks were placed perpendicular to the grill grates next to the firebox vent. The Swineapple was placed parallel to the fire, to allow for the most even exposure to the heat possible.

We closed the lid at 3pm and checked the firebox every 45 minutes, adding chunks as needed. The temperature remained between 225-250 degrees.

Two hours in the process, we used wooden spatulas with a large surface space to rotate the Swineapple,  The pineapple was soft and fragile; metal tongs were a mistake.

A meat thermometer was used four hours into the process; once the meat reached 160 degrees, we removed them from the heat.

Following standard grilling procedure, the meat was placed on a wooden cutting board and covered with aluminum foil, allowing the pork to rest.

11 After12 Finished Product
Final notes:

This was our first attempt at Swineapple and we will do it again.  That said, the procedure takes almost as long as smoking a turkey or racks of ribs.

We found that the citrus enzymes marinated the pork nicely.

Coring the pineapple and then removing the outer layer of pineapple might allow for more flavor infusion instead of a horizontal cut and scooped out the pineapple.  Another thought is to cut the pineapple down the middle and place the boneless pork ribs in either half, then tying the halves together before placing them on the grill.  Lastly, we would add the bacon much later in the smoking cycle.

I used too many Jack Daniels chunks in the firebox at once; the fire spread rapidly to the cedar planks, hence the blackened planks in the photographs.

We did not add barbecue sauce to the Swineapple. We used traditional offset heat, smoke, and a rib rub for flavor.

Good luck!

Categories: BBQ Pr0n, Deck, Pork, Prep, Ribs, Smoker, Wood | Leave a comment

Best. Ribs. Evar.


Let’s be honest: no matter how much you like barbecue, the time that it takes to make it means you have to be willing to invest a good chunk of your day.

This past weekend, I could see by the home schedule that I would be tied to the house with work both days, with Sunday being open for multi-tasking. So, seeing that I hadn’t made ribs in a while, I decided to give it a run.

First, I made a foray to the grocery store Saturday morning, and found a couple of racks of St. Louis style ribs that were rather short on expiration date, and, thus, on sale. Win.

Next I decided to try Alton Brown’s rub recipe

  • 8 parts brown sugar
  • 3 parts kosher salt
  • 1 part chili powder
  • 1 part other stuff

For this set, the “other stuff” was a mix of garlic powder, cumin, basil, and more chili powder. I rubbed both racks well, and wrapped them in foil, and put them in the refrigerator overnight.

Now, in the recent past, the last 25 years or so, I’ve made ribs in my smoker. However, Sunday, the weather turned out to be rather iffy, and rather than put up the tent or an awning as I have done in the past, I used the small grill on the back porch. I still wanted to smoke the ribs, as much as I could, but rather than use a lot of chips as I would in the smoker, I decided to go with a smaller amount of mesquite wrapped in aluminum foil.


Being a wet ribs man, I also made up some sauce to mop it with, which I will say included a mix of commercially available sauces, plus some worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, and a generous pour of Jack Daniel’s. How much Jack? Well, when the sauce ran into the fire, it flared up pretty well.

I ended up cooking them for about 3-1/2 hours, basting for the last 2 hours.

In the end, these have to be the best ribs I’ve ever made. So much so that I don’t think I’m ever again going to break out the smoker just for ribs. Low and slow with the grill, with a good amount of smoke, did just fine. The only time I will  make ribs in the smoker will be when I already have it going for something else, like a brisket.

The ribs were tender, falling off the bone, with the right mix of flavors and textures. The mesquite, which is normally such a powerful flavor that I don’t use it for much except brisket, was just right for the small amount I used. Alton’s rub made for a sweet flavor, with the right mix of spices, and cooked itself into a rather interesting texture.

I think I’ve found my new rib technique. And I think the verdict of the family concurs:


Categories: Ribs | Leave a comment

Friday Barbecue Pr0n

As a young engineer, my wife and I moved to the small town of Pampa, Texas, in the mid 80’s. There, we were introduced to real barbecue.

One of the places we came to treasure was Dyer’s Bar-B-Que, which opened on US 60 in 1967. They since opened another location 60 or so miles away in Amarillo.

Dyer’s is where I discovered brisket and real sausage. And onion rings to die for.



Dyers 2

Dyers ribs

Dyers 3

Dyers 1

Categories: BBQ Pr0n, Brisket, Ribs, Sausage, Sides | Leave a comment

Plans for 2013

It’s never too early to make my New Year’s Resolutions. So, here are the plans for the Bacon and Boomsticks Blog for 2013:


In 2013 I plan to make a series of How To videos on cooking different barbecue delicacies:

  • Beef brisket
  • Boston butt
  • Smoked sausage
  • Turkey breast
  • Chicken
  • Sides to die for – slaw, potato salad, beans, and more
  • Desserts to die for – biscuits, cobblers, ice cream, and more


I am blessed to have at least 17 barbecue restaurants within 10 miles of my home. My goal is to visit and review all of them in 2013. It’s something I am willing to do for you, the reader. You’re welcome.

  • Big Shanty Smokehouse, Kennesaw
  • Barbecue Street, Kennesaw
  • Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Kennesaw
  • J.D.’s Bar-B-Que, Acworth
  • Bar-B-Cutie, Acworth
  • Zeigler’s BBQ & Catering, Acworth
  • Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q , Hiram
  • Briar Patch Restaurant, Hiram
  • Rodney’s BBQ & Catering, Dallas
  • Johnny’s Bar-B-Que, Powder Springs
  • Shane’s Rib Shack, Marietta
  • Dave Poe’s BBQ, Marietta
  • Williamson Bros Bar-B-Q, Marietta
  • Sonnys Real Pit BBQ, Marietta
  • Rib Ranch, Marietta
  • Old South Barbecue, Smyrna
  • Staqs Bar B Que, Smyrna

Some of these are chains. Some of them are new, and one of them – Old South – I grew up eating as a kid. This will be fun.

Note, I already wrote about Dickey’s once, but it wasn’t a full blown review. Look for a thorough write-up soon, complete with my Eye Patch awards!


I have always been either an open griller, or a smoker. I am going to try to venture into some new techniques in 2013. Some ideas:

  • Pit cooked whole hog
  • Rotisserie cooked meat of some kind (ideas welcome)

Other ideas are welcome as well.


What do you think? Please sound off!

Categories: Beans, Beef, Brisket, Chicken, Pork, Prep, Review, Ribs, Sausage, Smoker | 2 Comments

Independence Day


For the third year in a row, I took the family to the Independence Day festivities at the Dillard House in Dillard, Georgia. This is a well established inn and restaurant in the Georgia mountains, about a half mile from the North Carolina border on US 441.
The restaurant has hosted a July 4 barbecue for several years, but my family and I prefer to eat the normal family style “all you can eat” fare, of superb country cooking. Our meal consisted of the following
Fried chicken
Country ham
Smothered steak
Barbecue ribs*
Fried okra
Corn on the cob
Collard greens**
Purple hull peas
Cabbage casserole au gratin
Steamed potatoes and onions
Sweet potato casserole
Green beans
Cole slaw
Sliced tomatoes
Mild chow chow
Rolls, biscuits, corn muffins
* The ribs were very good. They were rubbed with sugar, not very spicy, and smoked with a mild wood, probably oak. (I should have snooped around the smoke house. It was impressive from the outside.) They were served dry, and I added a little sauce to a few. The meat was not “fall off the bone” tender, but good nonetheless. The sauce was thin and not overpowering. It was what I call a Georgia style sauce, not the think tomato base of a Texas sauce, and not the mustard or vinegar base of a Carolina sauce. The restaurant sells this sauce in the gift shop, although we didn’t choose to take any home.

** My wife and I debated the source of the greens, as she asserted – correctly – that it was too early for collards, since these are cold weather vegetables. It remains a mystery. But they were good.

Dessert was peach shortcake and blackberry cobbler. The peaches were disappointing, but that is likely due to our just having bought some fresh peaches at the Marietta Farmers Market on Sunday.

After dinner, we moved to the green space adjacent to the restaurant grounds, for fireworks. They were impressive, especially given the surrounding Georgia mountain countryside.


If you are looking for excellent country fare, the Dillard House will not disappoint – I recommend it!  See their website for details.

My rating – 4 Eye Patches out of 4

Eye patch 4


Categories: Review, Ribs | Leave a comment

Everything But The Squeal

I had a couple of ribs from Memorial Day left in the refrigerator, so I pulled the meat off them for lunch today. It was a good run.

On tap – a Boston butt for Father’s Day. Maybe some sausage, too. I always like to use up all the space.

Categories: Ribs | Leave a comment


Forget the weenies.

There was a bowl of baked beans left over from Memorial Day, and a few ribs. I pulled the meat off a couple of ribs and stirred it into the beans. It was a testament to how well the ribs were cooked that the meat came off very easilty, and the bones were bare when I was done.

Three minutes in the microwave with a couple of stirs, and the room was aglow with an impressive aroma.

That was lunch today, and I am the envy of the office. Alas, I had no Bean-o, so this may be short lived.

I should have taken a picture, but it wouldn’t have done it justice.

Categories: Beans, Ribs | Leave a comment

Memorial Day Win

Memorial Day is a day to remember those who died in the service of our country, and helped preserve the freedoms we hold so dear. I lot of gun blogs I read have belittled those who see it as a day of barbecue.

Forgive me. This is a barbecue blog. We’ll talk about guns directly.


My Memorial Day started on Sunday, with the ceremonial Lighting of the Grills, accompanied by the National Anthem from my iPod courtesy of the US Army Band.

Memorial Day is a great day for barbecue, because the meat usually goes on sale, and this year was no different. In fact, in the course of my shopping, buying a whole brisket and a slab of ribs, I almost made one of the most egregious errors in barbecue: buying too much meat for the grill. However, I was able to press my regular grill into service for the ribs, and all was saved.

So, I marinated the brisket about 20 hours, and rubbed the ribs with some Cajun spices, salt, and sugar the night before. The smoke was all hickory, from my treasure trove of about 25 gallons of hickory chips left over from a carpentry project a buddy of mine had, 5 years ago.

I cooked the brisket on the low end of the scale, since I had all day, and I fed damp chips about every 20 minutes. After about 4 hours of smoking, I wrapped it in heavy duty aluminum foil and cooked it the rest of the way covered. I also inserted a meat thermocouple at that time, and cooked it to 162 degrees F.

The ribs were cooked over the coals for ten minutes, turned and cooked another ten minutes, then I split the coals and basted the ribs the first time, and put them in between the two piles of coals to cook indirectly. I like to cook my ribs wet, so after the first turn after basting, I put them on a piece of foil and basted them every 20 minutes with my Secret Sauce. I kept the fire low, just to the point where the pool of sauce around the ribs was bubbling just a little.

I cooked the ribs until I could wiggle a bone and pull it out. All in all it was probably 8 hours on the ribs, and 12 on the brisket.


In between tending to the meat, I had plenty to do.

First was painting the stock of my 10/22, to convert it from Steve Rogers to Captain America. The picture above is just after the second blue coat. Look for a full post in the near future on my other blog, Fill Yer Hands.

Second was installing the parts in the lower of my AR, Project Vera. This is all done, now I need to install buffer tube, stock, upper, and sights, and I’m done. Call it 30 percent at this point. Again, look for a full post at Fill Yer Hands.


Memorial Day proper was spent at the Fundraising Match at the Creekside Firing Range in Cartersville, Georgia. Look for a full report on Fill Yer Hands there too.



Finally, came the time to eat. I heated the meat in a 275 degree oven for about 45 minutes, and served them with homemade potato salad and baked beans.


The results were worth the wait. These were probably the best ribs I have ever made, and the brisket was easily in the top quarter. And, since I took advantage of the sales, I have plenty of leftovers for the week.

Categories: Beef, Boomsticks, Brisket, Ribs | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: