How to Prepare and Cook Ribs for a BBQ Competition
Preparing ribs for a BBQ competition is probably a different process that normally done for smoking them on the pit at home. I typically add more layers of flavor and seasonings than I normally do when I throw a rack of ribs on the BBQ pit. Using a better quality meat such as Berkshire is also advised. The ribs available at your local supermarket are usually not the same quality as some of the better choices available. I have outlined the process of preparing ribs for a BBQ competition below.
Trimming Ribs and Removing the Membrane
This step is a must. If you leave the membrane on the ribs, they will most certainly be tough. The membrane is located on the back of the ribs and is easily removed by taking a sharp knife and cutting one end loose from the ribs. You can then grab the membrane and peel it off. A great trick is to grab the membrane using a paper towel. This will increase your grip on the membrane and make it easier to pull off. Completely remove all traces of membrane.
Next, trim all loose pieces of fat and extra meat off of the ribs. The side of the ribs that the membrane is on will have an extra layer of meat that looks too thick. You want the ribs to look uniform and clean. Turn the ribs over so the bone side is down. There is usually extra fat located at the narrow end of the ribs. Trim this but do not remove all of the fat. Leaving some fat on the ribs is okay and the fat will render during the cooking process, aiding in keeping the ribs moist.
Seasoning the Ribs
Once the ribs are trimmed, it is time to season them. Apply a thin lay of yellow mustard or cooking oil to the ribs. This will give the rub something to stick to. Use your favorite rib rub and add a nice layer of seasoning to both sides of the ribs. You want a nice, uniform layer of seasoning on the ribs so use some type of shaker of seasoning container to apply the rub.
Next, sprinkle an even layer of brown sugar on the ribs. As the ribs sit, the brown sugar actually melts and almost looks like a liquid. You can wrap the ribs for later use and to let the seasoning soak in a little, or put them on the pit.
Smoking the RIbs
Smoking ribs is a low and slow process. I try to smoke the ribs at 225-230 degrees F for five hours. Once the smoker is at the temperature you want put the ribs on. Spray the ribs every 30 minutes with a mixture of 3/4 apple cider and 1/4 cooking oil. This mixture can be placed in a spray bottle for easy application. Once you reach 4 hours, lay piece of heavy foil down large enough to wrap one rack of ribs, and move one rack of ribs to the foil. Apply Parkay Squeeze butter to the top of the ribs by making a zigzag pattern. Pour some hot apple cider into the foil so that it covers the ribs 1/4 to 1/2 way, and tightly seal the foil. Place the ribs back on the smoker for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Make sure there is fluid in the foil at all times, or the ribs can burn at this point.
I actually smoked these indirectly on my BBQ grill. After doing it a few times, I can control the heat exactly as I do in my smoker by knowing how much wood to add and where to set the vents.