A Tale of Three Racks

Jennifer took me on a sexy date to Costco this past Saturday so that I could pick up some meat. And maybe also some fiber granola bars so my cholesterol doesn’t explode from barbecuing.

After a bit of consideration, I ended up getting a three pack of St. Louis ribs for a bit over $20. I don’t have enough friends to make a full packer brisket and the temperature on Sunday was going to be okay, but not great. I also got a thing of ground pepper so my hands don’t die when I’m seasoning stuff.


I went with the two racks seasoned with a salt and pepper rub and the third with the sugar-based rub I used on the pork shoulder. I removed the membrane on the back again; I was able to get it off in one go this time around.


As I sort of expected, I didn’t have enough room to stick three racks flat on the grill. I improvised by requisitioning a roasting rack and flipping it upside down as a janky-ass hovergrill. I stuck one rack on the bottom and two on top to avoid messing up the air flow too badly.

This would later have a not-entirely-unexpected effect on the meat.

Ribs tend to be little bit tricky in terms of determining when their finished; the temperature can vary since the meat is thinner and because of the presence of so many bones.IMGP2195

Luckily in this case, I plugged by thermometer into one of the top ones, which after just about 3 hours showed that I had reached 203 degrees, the top end of where the temperature should be at. In testing the floppiness, I found that the top two were done (maybe a bit overdone). I ended up taking those two off after brushing on some sauce and searing it briefly.


There are two possibilities; either the three or four inch difference resulted in a significant change in temperature between the two levels, making the top ribs cook a lot faster than expected, or the steam from the water pan steamed the ribs. I’m not sure what the temperature difference exactly was; my barbecue thermometer was showing about 230ish most of the time.

The last rack of ribs, which continued to cook at that temp, took quite a bit longer. Throughout the rest of the cook, I had to punch the grill a couple times (literally) to keep the ashes some smothering the remaining coals. Eventually I had to heat up some more to throw them in, since most of the coals died around 6 hours in. With just a bit of time left before Stuart and Elena arrived, I ended up wrapping the rack in aluminum foil and increasing the temperature up to 260ish. I was unable to figure out how to plug my thermometer back in after I wrapped it.


The rack came out a bit less floppy that I would have preferred, but it wasn’t too bad. It definitely had more pull than the first two, but was still tasty enough.

Everybody seemed to prefer the sugar rub better so maybe I’ll try to use that more. I have a ton of it left anyways.

An irrelevant bowl of salad.

One particular problem this time around is that it can hard to maneuver three racks of ribs, the lid of the kettle and the thermometer at the same time. There’s a mod that would make the lid attached to the side, so maybe I’ll look at that. That would likely require power tools outside of my possession though.

I also am irked by the fact that I can’t poke or add to the coals without opening the lid and losing a bunch of heat. I’m actually sort of tempted to spend my tax return on a shitty offset smoker, which would probably help with the space issue as well.

Lastly, I need to come up with better titles.

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