I am lucky that my favorite food on the planet is something I cook myself right here at home. Tell me these ribs don't look amazing. It doesn't get any better than these, folks!
In my family we barrel cook our meat, and these ribs are no exception. When I first got my barrel I was a little clueless on how to best use it, especially for the elusive perfect rib. After a lot of trial and error (and a half dozen or so phone calls to my big brother, who got me started on barrel cooking) I finally perfected my method and now I can share it with you :)
(Keep in mind, these instructions are for a small-sized barrel, not a full-sized one.)
The first thing you want to do is stack your charcoal on the base plate of your barrel BBQ. I use about 3 lbs. for my small barrel. Variations in how much charcoal you use will alter the amount of time you will need to cook the ribs. Stack the coals in a pyramid shape.
Light your charcoal and then walk away for about 20-30 minutes. This is the perfect time to prep your ribs.
Make sure that all the coals are nice and white-hot.
Once your coals are nice and white, put the barrel over the top of them.
While the coals were heating up, you should have been prepping your ribs. When barrel cooking, I use a dry rub, as marinades can tend to drip off a lot onto the coals. Also, I make a pretty damn good dry rub so I stick with that.
You want to cut each rack of ribs into two or three sections, depending on how big they are. Rinse them well in cold water.
Now is the fun part... rub, rub, rub those ribs with your favorite rub. I have gone back and forth on whether or not to post the recipe I use because for one, it is my trademark and for two, I don't have a "recipe" per se, I make it by taste and so I have no idea what the exact measurements are. I may figure it out and post it in the future though. I can tell you that it involves a very healthy dose of brown sugar :)
Your rib rub will start to dissolve onto the ribs... this is good.
Your ribs are ready to cook now! If one end is wider than the other, you will want to put the hook into the narrower end. Whichever end has more meat on it should hang down so that it is closer to the heat and gets cooked thoroughly.
Now place your hanging rods over the top of your barrel and hang your meat from them. Take care that none of the meat is touching the sides of the barrel.
All that's left to do now is put the lid on and wait! This may be the hardest part but you HAVE to leave the lid on and resist temptation to lift it and check on the meat. The more you lift the lid off the more heat and smoke will escape and the ribs will not cook properly.
Your cook time is going to depend a little bit on the amount of coals you use. My ribs usually go an hour and a half to an hour and 45 minutes. This will depend on the size of the ribs as well. A good method is to wait an hour and a half and then check the temperature with the meat thermometer. If they aren't ready yet, smoke them another 15 minutes. The USDA changed their pork guidelines a couple of years ago and lowered the ideal temperature to 145. It used to be 160 so I aim for somewhere in that range. Keep in mind your meat will continue to cook a little once you take it out of the barrel. It's pretty hard to screw these up though, no matter what temp you cook them to.
Now you are ready to cut your ribs and serve!
Hint: They go amazing with this Fully Loaded Baked Potato Salad.
Now that's summertime perfection!