There is no better way to spend a long holiday weekend than laying out at the pool and BBQ’n in Palm Springs California! The 100 degree dry heat is an optimal climate to pull out the Master Forge Charcoal Smoker and smoke some St Louis Pork Ribs and Beer Butt Chicken!

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Tools Needed:
•Charcoal Smoker
•Smoker box
•Woodchips
•Rib Rack
•Chimney Starter
•Charcoal Briquettes
•Beer Can Chicken Rack (For Beer Butt Chicken)
•Rub
•Tongs
•Newspaper
•Lighter
•Instant Read Thermometer

Below are links to the items I used.
Mater Forge Charcoal Smoker
http://www.lowes.com/ProductDisplay?partNumber=416522-42600-CBS1301L&langId=-1&storeId=10151&productId=4459493&catalogId=10051&cmRelshp=req&rel=nofollow&cId=PDIO1
Brinkman Cast Iron Smoker Box
http://m.homedepot.com/p/Brinkmann-Cast-Iron-Smoker-Box-812-7222-S/203014793/
Alder Hickory Wood chips
http://m.homedepot.com/p/Alder-Wood-Chips-7384441/203408976/
Brinkman Rib Rack
http://m.homedepot.com/p/Brinkmann-Rib-Rack-812-9236-S/203018585/
Charcoal Companion Chimney Starter
http://mobile.walmart.com/m/phoenix;jsessionid=85661E8CBEA67941CAE861C2E7060245#ip/14880545?adid=22222222228000540064&veh=sem&wl6=34929154870&wl5=pla&wl2=m&wmlspartner=wlpa&wl1=g&wl4=&wl3=14008370470&wl0=
Kingsford Hickory Charcoal Briquettes
http://m.homedepot.com/p/Kingsford-Hickory-15-7lb-Charcoal-Briquets-4460030483/202584102/
Charcoal Companion Beer Chicken Rack
http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Stainless-Steel-Beer-Can-Chicken-Rack/4584429/product.html?cid=202290&kid=9553000357392&track=pspla&ef_id=UiVT-wAABW2GQkZy:20130903032220:s#product-detail
McCormick GrillMates Cowboy Rub
http://www.mccormick.com/Spices-and-Flavors/Grill-Mates/Dry-Rubs/Grill-Mates-Cowboy-Rub

I chose the Charcoal Smoker because the combination of charcoal at the bottom, the water bowl, smoking wood chips and temperature gage help maintain a low and slow cooking technique that’s required for the juicy smoked flavor I want. The water helps regulate the temperature around 200-250 degrees. I cook low temp for a long period to slowly break down the strong connective tissues that are ever present in ribs.

I start the smoking process by bringing the meat to room temperature.

To begin Smoking I place a layer of unlit charcoals in the base of the smoker. Next I prepare hot coals in a chimney starter by crumpling up newspaper into the bottom of the chimney and then filling charcoal to the top of the chimney. Lighting the newspaper heats the coals, I want the top coals to develop a slight gray ash acquired from 20-30 minutes of burning. While waiting on the coals I soak the Hickory wood chips in water for 20-30 minutes.

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There are many cuts of ribs but the major decision lies in location, location, location. Even in food real estate is important: spare ribs or backribs?

The biggest reason St Louis Ribs (spareribs) are my favorite is that they have the most fall off the bone, succulently juicy, melt in your salivating mouth meat due to their location. Think of it this way, with every move the pig or cow makes they are strengthening their muscles. The tender meat of the rib that lies in the undercarriage of the belly (spareribs) gets far less muscle development than that of the backribs that are toughened due to being on all fours 24/7.

To prepare ribs start by removing the membrane on the concave side of the rib rack. The membrane is the thick white layer of skin. With a very sharp knife cut along the corner of the membrane to create a tab that is sizeable enough to hold firmly. With a paper towel in hand take ahold of the membrane and gently pull off. If this becomes a struggle as it very well can be take a sharp knife and score the back of the rib membrane to allow air exchange during smoking. I then dry the ribs as much as possible and massage the meat side of each rack with my favorite pre-made rub McCormick GrillMates Cowboy Rub!

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You can place the ribs into a rib rack or cut them to size to fit in and on your smoker grates.

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By this time my coals should be ready to be spread on top of the unlit layer of coals. This mixture of lit and unlit coal allows a nice low temperature and long burn time. I will next place my soaked wood chips into the smoker box and set them on the hot coals. Place the water pan in the middle unit of the smoker (above the smoker box) mine fits in notches of the base and place the grate above the water pan. Add your meat/ribs to the smoker on the grates or rib racks.20130910-142319.jpg

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During the process I have to monitor the smoker to reach and hold the temperature between 200-250. This is a slow dry cooking method, if I rush this process the meat will not cook properly and taste chewy and dry. I make sure to check the water pan level so it doesn’t evaporate, adding new wood chips to the smoker box every 1&1/2-2 hours.

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At this point it will take about 4-5 hours depending on how many ribs, the temperature and the development of color you’re looking for in the caramelization of the smoky bark on your ribs. (I used 2 racks and it was 4 hours)

How do you know when it’s done? The top will develop a dark bark. Check this by grabbing and bending the rib rack. If it cracks your done if its overly bendy it will need a bit more time.20130910-142418.jpg

There are several finishing techniques you can:
Serve dry
Serve dry with a side of BBQ sauce
Slather with sauce and serve
Slather with sauce place on the gas grill and develop a BBQ sauce Caramelized outer coating.

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For Beer Butt Chicken I used the same process except I buttered the skin and applied the rub before mounting the Whole WOG Chicken (wog-without giblets) on the beer can chicken rack. Coors Light is the size can that my rack fits but I want full flavor so I pour it out and fill the can with a Guinness Stout for heavier aeromatics. The chicken will be cooked at 200-250degrees for 2&1/2 – 3 hours. The internal temp needs to be above 165 for poultry so I check with an instant read thermometer and then let it rest. I don’t remove my Chicken from the rack or cut into it for 15 minutes so the juices will set.

If you have any questions please leave me a comment.
What will you be smoking this weekend?

I hope you will enjoy this recipe in your home soon, it is an original recipe made with love from my kitchen. -Katie Bonzer

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