"I have several slabs of boneless babyback ribs, each package weighs just under a pound. How would you recommend that I cook them so they're juicy?"
That question came to me my way by way of my contact form. It was a very good question that needs to be answered here so it can help others in the same predicament. Here's the answer...
No matter how you'll be cooking them, the first two steps would be to brine the slab, then season it lightly with dry rub.
For one slab, you'll need one quart of brine. I like to use 16 ounces of apple juice, 16 ounces of water, and 2 tablespoons of salt. Let one of the slabs soak in this for 1 to 2 hours. After that, give a quick rinse and pat dry with a towel.
Give it a light coat of a good dry rub rub. You can make your own Memphis Rib Rub or make a batch of this Kansas City Dry Rub. Either would be good on those babyback ribs. Since the ribs are already salted from the brine, don't add the salt to the rub when you put it together. If you buy a prepared rub, go with a salt-free dry rub or a low salt product. Let the ribs rest at room temperature for an hour, which is just about enough time to get your grill or smoker ready.
No matter how you cook them, the main thing is to cook 'em gently. Low
and slow cooking will provide you with the best quality. In a smoker,
keep the temperature at 225°F...in a grill, no hotter than 250°F or so.
In a grill, use the indirect grilling method.
During the first hour of smoking, place a foil wrapped chunk (about 2
inches square) of smoking wood on top of the coals, or over a gas
burner, to provide a bit of smoke flavor to the ribs. For stronger
smoke flavor, add a second after the first one has smoked out. Apple is a
good choice if you can find it. If not, hickory would be good. I'd
recommend only one addition of hickory wood, since it has a stronger
Baste the boneless babyback ribs every fifteen minutes, after the first hour of cooking. The reason for waiting an hour is that during the first hour, the rub seasonings and smoke flavor will have a chance to penetrate the meat. Basting is going to remove some of those flavors from the surface. Use something light to baste with...1 cup of beer with a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and two teaspoons of cider vinegar mixed in is a good basting liquid.
Cook the ribs until tender. Those small boneless slabs could be done in as little as 1-1/2 to 2 hours. To test the ribs for doneness, stick a table fork into the edge at the thickest point and give it a twist. When done perfectly, the meat will pull apart with just a little bit of effort. The internal temperature needs to reach at least 160°F to be "medium" done. Don't cook 'em until they are falling-apart tender, or they'll start to lose some of their juiciness and flavor. As a final "done test", cut off a piece and pop it in your mouth. How'd that taste? Good? Better have another taste just to be sure...
Good luck barbecuing your boneless babyback ribs. Let me know how it went!
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