Cooking Boneless Babyback Ribs, aka Boneless Pork Loin Back Ribs

A Couple Strips of Boneless Babyback Ribs In a Traeger Smoker

"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 reader question is in regards to a cut of pork available in some localities, and consist of meat from the pork loin.

Brining The Ribs Makes 'em Juicy

No matter how you'll be cooking them, the first two steps would be to brine the slab, then season it lightly with a good quality dry rub.

For one slab, you'll need one quart of brine. To make the brine, I like to use 16 ounces of apple juice, 16 ounces of water, and 2 tablespoons of salt. Let the slab soak in this for 1 to 2 hours. After that, give a quick rinse and pat dry with a towel.

Rib Rub Recipes That Will Give The Ribs Some Flavor Complexity

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 make it. If you buy a prepared rub, go with a salt-free dry rub or a low salt product.

After seasoning the ribs with the rub, let them rest at room temperature for an hour, which is just about enough time to get your grill or smoker ready.

Cook Your Boneless Babyback Ribs Low and Slow

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° 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 flavor.

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.

Use something light to baste with... 1 cup of apple juice (or beer) with a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and two teaspoons of cider vinegar mixed in is a good combination.

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.