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Lunchbreak: Baby back ribs, prepared by pitmaster Myron Mixon and details about the Windy City Smoke Out

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Pitmaster Myron Mixon and Michael Mixon

Myron Mixon's Smoke Show
3801 N. Clark Street
(773) 360-1452

To purchase a copy of the cookbook:

Myron Mixon's BBQ Rules: The Old-School Guide to Smoking Meat

Windy City Smoke Out
July 13-16
560 W. Grand Avenue

For tickets and more information:

Baby Back Ribs
Serves 4 to 6

4 racks baby back ribs
1 recipe Rib Marinade
1 recipe Basic Barbecue Rub
1 recipe Rib Spritz
1 cup apple juice
1 recipe Hog Glaze

What You’ll Need:
Cutting board
Sharp boning knife or paring knife
Paper towels or clean kitchen towels

One at a time, place the racks on a cutting board, bone side up, and remove the membrane (or “silver”): At whichever end of the rack seems easier, work your fingers underneath the membrane until you have to 3 inches cleared. Grab the membrane with a towel and gently but firmly pull it away from the ribs. Pulling off the membrane exposes loose fat that will need trimming, so take your knife and cut out any excess fat. Now the racks are ready.
Set the racks in an aluminum baking pan and cover them completely with the rib marinade. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and let it sit for 4 hours, either in the refrigerator or, if you’re at a contest or in a picnic situation, in a cooler packed with ice.
When you are ready to cook them, remove the ribs from the marinade. Pat them dry with towels. Apply the rub lightly around the edges of the ribs, over the back side of them, and on top. Then let the ribs sit, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, heat a grill to 250 degrees F.
Put the ribs in a baking pan, put the pan in the grill, and cook for 2 hours. After the first 3 minutes of cooking, spritz the ribs. Continue to spritz at 15-minute intervals for the duration of the cooking time. (The ribs should be uncovered so they can absorb as much smoke as possible.)
Remove the pan from the smoker. Pour the apple juice into a clean aluminum baking pan. Place the ribs in the pan, bone side down, and cover the pan aluminum foil. Place the pan in the smoker and cook for 1 hour.
Remove the pan from the smoker and shut off the heat on the smoker. Remove the foil, and apply the glaze to the top and bottom of the slabs of ribs. Re-cover the pan with foil, return it to the smoker, and let the ribs rest in the smoker for 30 minutes as the temperature gradually decreases.
Remove the ribs from the pan and let them rest for 10 minutes on a wooden cutting board. Then cut and serve.

Hog Glaze
Makes 8 cups

2 cups Jack’s Old South Vinegar Sauce or Basic Vinegar Sauce
2 18-ounce jars apple jelly
2 cups light corn syrup

Combine all the ingredients in a blender, and blend until thoroughly combined, about 3 minutes. Pour out into a clean bowl, using a plastic spatula to scrape it all. Store, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.

Basic Barbecue Rub
Makes 3 cups

1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 Tablespoons dry mustard
2 Tablespoons garlic powder
2 Tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients thoroughly. You can store this in an airtight container indefinitely.

Rib Spritz
Makes about 5 cups

3 cups apple juice
2 cups white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons liquid imitation butter

In a large spray bottle (one that will hold at least 5 cups of liquid), combine all the ingredients. Shake well to blend.

Rib Marinade
Makes about 7 ½ cups

1 liter ginger ale
1 quart orange juice
1 1/4 cups soy sauce
1/2 cup salt
2 1-ounce packets dry ranch dressing mix

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Stir well to thoroughly incorporate. Pour into a large bottle or other container and store, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.

Cole Slaw

1 1/2 cups mayo
1 bag/head of shredded cabbage
4 Roma tomatoes (remove the pulp, then medium rough chop
2 T sliced chives

1 t Cajun seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

3 T apple cider vinegar

-Mix all ingredients in a bowl, then chill

BBQ Baked Beans

8 strips bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces and can add some pulled pork if desired
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 (#10 can, about 6 pounds and 10 ounces) baked beans (recommended: Bush's)
3 cups canned peach pie filling
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons BBQ Rub

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until somewhat crispy and its fat has rendered. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, leaving the fat in the skillet.
Add the pepper and onion to the skillet and cook, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large baking pan.
Add the bacon (and pulled pork if desired), beans, pie filling, barbecue sauce, and rub to the pan. Mix to combine and bake, uncovered, until hot and bubbly, about 1 hour.


How to Prepare a Kettle of Other Charcoal Grill for Smoking
Take about a cup of your favorite wood (I like peach wood, being from Georgia) and soak them in enough water to cover them for at least an hour or, even better, overnight. When you’re ready to cook, drain the wood chips. Wrap them in aluminum foil and seal the edges; the best description I’ve seen of this technique is to make it like a “burrito” -- a packet of soaked and drained holes in the top of the packet. Set the packet aside. Then prepare the grill: On a standard kettle grill, bank your charcoal to one side, leaving a cold area for the meat to be placed (an “indirect” heat area, where the meat is not directly over the flame but is still being cooked by it). Then place that packet of wood chips underneath the charcoal. Place the lid on the kettle and control the level of the heat with the kettle grill’s vents, opening them up more to cool the smoker and closing them to raise it.

How to Prepare a Gas Grill for Smoking
Most models of gas grills have either two or three burners that can be controlled individually. Here’s what you do: Take about a cup of your favorite wood chips (I like peach wood, as I mentioned above) and soak them in enough water to cover them for at least an hour or, even better, overnight. When you’re ready to cook, drain the wood chips. Wrap them in aluminum foil and seal the edges; the best description I’ve ever seen of this technique is to make it like a “burrito” -- a packet of soaked and drained wood chips. Using a long wooden skewer or a sharp-tined fork, poke several holes in the top of the packet. Set the packet aside. (Make 2 if you have a 3-burner grill.) On a two-burner gas grill, light only one side; on a three-burner unit, light the two outside burners and leave the middle one cold. Place the packet of wood chips on the lit section (or sections). The flame will smolder the wet chips, producing smoke to cook and flavor your meat. Then you will place your meat on the unlit section of the gas grill and cook it with indirect heat. That’s it. Don’t worry about the grill’s side vents and making them closed airtight; do the best you can to shut them, but don’t worry; none of my smokers are what you’d call “airtight” either. And I win money with my food all the time.

Regulating the Heat in Any Smoker or Grill
As I’ve said time and time again, cooking over fire is not complicated. And making sure your temperature stays consistent is very important but not very difficult after you understand how it’s done.
Obvious fact #1: As charcoal burns, it cools. This starts to happen after about an hour. If you’re cooking something for less than an hour, don’t worry about it. If you’re cooking something that requires more time than that, you’ll have to do something.
Obvious fact #2: When you’re using a smoker or a grill for indirect-heat cooking, you’re going to need to replenish the coals about every hour, or every time the grill temperature dips 50 or more degrees below what you need it to be.
Obvious fact #3: This is as easy as watching the temperature, opening the grill, adding the new coals near some already well-lit ones, and making sure they catch fire. Monitor the cooker’s temperature and then add your new coals when necessary, and you’ll be able to maintain a consistent temperature in your cooker.

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