Okay, before you write about BBQ and gas grills, I know. You know. I know you know. Even though you will never get that true BBQ smoke flavor from your gas grill, you can add a nice light smokiness to enhance the flavor of your grilled foods. Enough subtle smoke that will compliment, and not overwhelm, sauces that aren’t hardcore KC-style. Try using foil packets of soaked wood chips, or better yet, get V-Shaped Smoke Boxes that fit down in-between the heat shields of your grill. By virtue of the way gas grills are constructed, there is not a lot of smoke retention; most of the smoke will come out the back venting. To combat this, I set my indirect heat zone in the center and turn on the outer two burners with the smoke boxes (I use two) toward the front of the grill. This way the smoke should roll over the meat on it’s way out.
The cooking method, which takes some tips from BBQ pit masters, will give you falling-off-the-bone tender, moist ribs with a little bit of smokiness as another layer of flavor. Always add your sauce at the end and at lower temperatures. BBQ sauces usually contain a lot of sugar; sugar will burn quickly when exposed to high heat.
Lightly Smoked BBQ Pork Ribs
V-Shaped smoke boxes or aluminum foil
Wood chips soaked in water for at least 30 minutes (not mesquite)
Heavy-duty aluminum foil
Trim ribs and remove the silver skin from the backside. Allow ribs to come to room temperature for about and hour. No more than 30 minutes prior to grilling, season the ribs with rub.
Smoke: Set up grill for indirect heat. Drain your wood chips – by drain, I mean drain; they should not be dripping when you put them in the smoke box. Place chips in the smoke boxes and turn burners to high (leave the grill cover open). Once you start to see some good smoke coming out of the boxes, reduce heat to medium low (300°F). Place ribs on grill over drip pan, close the grill cover and let ribs smoke for 30 to 40 minutes (30 min. for baby backs; 40 mins. for spare ribs).
Tender: Tear off a couple sheets of foil big enough to wrap the ribs. Place each rack on a piece of foil and pour 1/2 cup of cider over each rack and wrap in foil. Turn heat up to medium (375°F). Return ribs to the grill and close the cover. The higher temperature ill cause the cider to boil and steam the ribs. The moist heat is what dissolves all the things that make the meat tough. Cook 30 to 40 minutes; the ribs should almost bend in half when you go to lift them.
Deliciousness: Remove the ribs from the foil and place back over the drip pan. Don’t be surprised if they start to break apart… they are tender! Turn the heat to low. Now it’s time to layer on the sauce. Brush liberally with BBQ sauce and close the cover for 5 minutes; flip the ribs and sauce. Repeat this for the next 30 minutes. Apply at least two coats of sauce to each side. Remove from grill, cut into serving portions, and dig in!
Cheers and Happy Grilling!