I did some research on how 3 time world champ Melissa Cookston cooks her barbecued baby back ribs. This is what I found and my comments.
Here is Melissa's Quick and Easy rub recipe she shared at this link - Click Here.
1 cup granulated raw sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp granulated garlic
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp black pepper (coarse ground if available)
2 tsp ground mustard
4 tbsp light chili powder
4 tbsp paprika
In the How to BBQ like a World Champion
interview, Cookston explains the process.
“We’re going to show you exactly what we do to our ribs for competition to make your ribs world champion ribs too,” Cookston begins.
First, you want to remove the membrane that is on the back of the ribs. “You can’t chew through that. So we want to remove that, so that all of our flavors can get in the back of the rib as well as the top of the rib, and it’ll make it much more tender. You just slide your fingers underneath the membrane, pull up, and bam it’s gone.”
After that, liberally coat both sides of your ribs with rub, and be sure to rub it all in so the meat gets lots of good flavor.
Then spread on a coat of secret ingredient #1, mustard.
“The mustard acts as a sealant on top of the rub, which will help force that rub down into the pores; as well as it contains Vinegar, so it will help these ribs tenderize,” she explains. “You will never taste the mustard in these ribs, I promise.”
"Now your ribs are ready for the smoker at 225 degrees for two hours."
Boshizzle NOTE - I seriously doubt that she cooks ribs at 225 degrees. Bump your smoker temperature up to 275 degrees F and you will be closer to the actual cooking temperature.
“After two hours, these ribs will be a nice, red color and they almost look like they’re done. But guess what? They’re still tough. So what I’m going to do is, I’m going to wrap this up in some foil,” she says.
While appearing on BBQ Pitmasters, Cookston added some further details -
Cookston described the color of her ribs before wrapping them in foil as a really dark red color on the ribs so that when she glazes them they will have a nice pretty mahogany shine.
"Wrapping your ribs in foil will help them tenderize and keep them from over-smoking. Before you wrap them up, shake some more rub on both sides and cover it with another thin layer of mustard.
Then comes secret ingredient #2, apple juice. Add a cup or two of apple juice to your foil-wrapped ribs to ensure your ribs are cooking with moist heat and not a dry-heat. The juice will also keep your ribs tender, and add a little bit of sweetness."
Boshizzle NOTE - I think that is too much AJ. Too much liquid in the foil can cause the ribs to lose flavor. At the link with the rub recipe (above) she specified 1 tablespoon of apple or orange juice. And if you watch the video of her at the How to BBQ like a World Champion link you can see that she used a very little bit of apple juice. Looked like about 2 tablespoons to me.
"Before you wrap them up, shake some more rub on both sides and cover it with another thin layer of mustard."
"Make sure the ribs are wrapped tightly, and put them back in the smoker for another two hours.
When your ribs are done cooking is when you add your barbecue sauce, not earlier."
Boshizzle NOTE - Start checking baby back ribs after about 1.5 hours of cook time after being wrapped. They are done when you can easily twist the bones or when they bend at a 90 degree angle when being picked up from the middle with a pair of tongs.
“BBQ sauces all contain some sort of sugars which will caramelize and actually burn through the cooking process, so you only want to put the sauce on at the very end of the cooking process,” Cookston says.
After you've sauced your ribs you’ll add the final touch of Cookston’s last secret ingredient, honey.
“It’ll give your ribs a great shine, and it’ll give them just that sweet taste, which is really good if you like sweet BBQ.” Plus, “If it looks good, it tastes good. So shiny ribs are better than dull ribs.”
"Put your ribs back in the smoker for 10-15 minutes to let the barbecue sauce soak in, and then your ribs are ready to enjoy."
Boshizzle NOTE - If your sauce has a lot of sugar in it, 10 minutes is the maximum time that you will need, especially at 275 degrees.
Now, if you want to make even more authentic Cookston style baby back ribs, order some of her barbecue sauce and rub from her online store. Click here for the link.