Introduction: Pit-Smoked Ribs

There's no better way to celebrate summer cooking than to smoke a rack of ribs over a fire in a pit dug in your back yard.

First, you're going to need a smoke pit. This 'ible is a great example of how to make the perfect smoke pit in your back yard. If some of these pictures look familiar, it's because I cooked my ribs in his pit, since my apartments have a severe lack of back yard space.

You'll also need the following...

  • Rack of pork ribs
  • Charcoal briquettes
  • Wood chunks
    • I used Mesquite chunks for this, but Hickory would work well too
    • You can use wood chips if you can't find chunks, but chunks work better
  • Barbecue sauce of your choice
  • Internal meat thermometer
  • Basting brush
  • Heavy metal tongs
  • Dry rub
    • Ingredients and directions for how to make my typical Texas Rub are later in the instructable

You can see in the picture I had some other things cooking over the pit, I figured I had the extra room, I might as well use it. But for now, this is going to be all about those ribs.!

Step 1: Soak Your Chunks and Start Your Fire

Fill a bucket with water and soak your wood chunks for at least thirty minutes, but upwards of an hour if you have the time. The longer you can soak them, the less likely they are to catch on fire. When smoking over a pit, fire is bad. Heat and smoke are good.

While the wood chunks are soaking, get your fire started. When making a charcoal fire, I recommend using a chimney starter as opposed to lighter fluid. Let the fire do its thing until the charcoal is bright white and super hot.

Step 2: Dry Rub

While the fire is settling and the wood chunks are soaking, you can get started on the dry rub. If you have your own preferred dry rub recipe, go for it. You can also buy pre-mixed rubs with different levels of seasoning and spices. To make my go-to Texas Dry Rub, combine the following in a bowl...

1/2 cup chili powder

1/2 cup salt

3 tbs sugar

1 1/2 tbs garlic powder

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp cayenne

Rub it in a thick layer all over the outside of the ribs. Then let the meat come to room temperature while you wait for your fire to get to a nice consistent heat.

Step 3:

Once the fire is ready, place 3-4 soaked wood chunks into the fire (or 3-4 soaked handfuls of wood chips). When the wood starts to smoke, put your meat on the grill over the fire fat-side-up so the fat drips down over the ribs as they're cooking.

Cover the meat and let it smoke for an hour, keeping an eye on the fire, making sure it doesn't get too hot and the flames don't flare up and burn the meat. I kept a spray bottle of water handy to shoot out any flames that might start up.

I propped my pit cover up with a couple half-bricks so the pit would get enough oxygen to keep going, but would still keep most of the smoke directed at the meat.

Step 4: Baste It

As the meat is cooking, periodically flip the meat over and baste it with a barbecue sauce of your choice. Just slather it right on there.

Make sure you're very careful when handling the hot lid of the pit. Use your tongs to lift it up so you don't burn your fingers - you'll need those to eat your ribs!

Step 5:

After being on the fire for an hour, check the doneness of the meat. Depending on the weight of the meat and the heat of your pit, it may need to be on the fire for another one - four hours. Check on it periodically.

To make sure it's thoroughly cooked, use an internal thermometer to check the temperature. You want your ribs to be about 180 degrees to be at their best.

Step 6:

When they're cooked properly, take them off the fire and let them rest indoors for ten - fifteen minutes. Then cut them apart and enjoy!

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