Johnny Trigg Ribs

Johnny Trigg Ribs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • See notes.
  1. See notes.
Step 1
Recommended rib types: St. Louis style rack of ribs or loin back rack

If the ribs are frozen, thaw them out for approximately 3-4 days in the refrigerator. On the day of the cook, let the unfrozen ribs come to room temperature, it’s OK to set them out for 45 minutes or so. While the ribs are sitting out, coat them with canola oil, then apply a sweet, sugar based rub on the ribs. Just because the spices are called a rub, you don’t actually rub it into the meat. That just tears up the surface of the meat. Instead, gently pat the rub into the meat. Let it sit until the rub turns into a syrup glaze.

Recommended commercial rubs:

* Blues Hog
* Dizzy Pig Pineapple
* Penzey’s BBQ 3000
* Penzey’s Galena Street
* Smokin’ Guns Hot
* McCormick’s Grillmates Sweet & Smoky
* KC Butt Spice

Prepare the cooker for smoking. You should have a smoker or a charcoal grill to cook ribs. If you have a charcoal grill, use the 2-zone method. Set the temperature of the grill to approximately 225 degrees.

Step 2
Wait about 20-30 minutes for the temperature to stabilize at 225 degrees. Add the glazed rack of ribs to the cooker, flesh side up. Remember, the lid is always on or closed with the vents wide open. Only crack the lid if absolutely necessary.

Add 2 or 3 chunks of dry seasoned hardwood/fruitwood such as: cherry, oak, apple, hickory, pecan, peach or a combination of wood. These are some of my favorites. However, stay away from mesquite, the smoke will overpower the pork. Moreover, do not use wood chips or soak the wood in water.

Let the ribs smoke for 3 hours. Check the temperature often without opening the cooking chamber and keep it around 225 degrees. Also, check the charcoal and water/liquids as necessary.

Note: One element to achieve tender, moist ribs is making sure that there is a source for water in the cooking chamber. Humidity keeps the moisture inside the ribs. Typically, large trailer smokers create moisture by cooking large quantities of meat, but doing with one or 2 racks of ribs cannot produce moisture in the grill. So, adding a pan of water directly over the heat source or next to it can recreate that moisture.

Step 3
At 3 hours, the ribs could be considered ready to eat. But, the connective tissue has not broken down at this point. Eating the ribs now would be tough and chewy. This next step will accelerate the break down of connective tissue which will result in a tender product.

When the 3 hours are almost up, create a flat preparation area. Tear a sheet of aluminum foil, enough to completely wrap 1 rack of ribs. Remove the ribs from the grill and wrap the ribs in aluminum foil.

Wrap ingredients:

* Parkay margarine
* Turbinado sugar (Sugar In The Raw)
* Honey
* Tiger Sauce (sweet chile sauce)

Before you seal it up, add ¼ cup of apple juice. Doing this will expedite the cooking process of breaking down the meat and render off the fat. Seal it up tight so no liquids leak.

Place the ribs flesh side down on the grill grate and continue to cook at 225 degrees for 2 hours. At this point, wood chunks are no longer needed, but continue to add water and charcoal.

Step 4
At 2 hours, 5 hours total, remove the foiled ribs and unwrap them. They should look moist and the rub looks mealy. Another thing to notice is how much the meat has pulled back from the bone. If there is about a ¼ inch of bone pulled back, you’re in good shape. If not, don’t sweat it because it is not a litmus test for doneness. Discard the foil wrap and liquid.

Place on the grill flesh side up and apply more rub one last time. Pop on the lid and cook for the last hour to firm it up.

If you use barbecue sauce, now is the time to 1) Take it out of the refrigerator and sit out at room temperature 2) Warm it up on the grill/stove. The popular application for barbecue sauce is to put it on the 10 minutes before you take the ribs off the grill.

Step 5
Using the 3-2-1 method takes the guessing out of knowing when ribs are done. Nonetheless, there are several ways to check to make sure they are tender. Here are a few ways to tell:

* When the meat pulls back about a ¼” from the bone.
* Take a toothpick, poke between the bones at the thickest part of the ribs. If it easily slides in and out of the rack…it’s done.
* With a pair of tongs, grab one end of the ribs. If they bend easy they are done, if not, keep them in the cooker.

Note: The 3-2-1 typically does not produce fall off the bone ribs. To achieve fall off the bone ribs…cook them longer. This will further break down the meat. Do this with caution because the meat will turn to mush and you can ruin a good rack of ribs. In other words, ribs are too expensive to make them fall off the bone…you can get the same results from pulled pork and it’s cheaper!

FYI…If you didn’t achieve a tender rack of ribs, don’t be discouraged. It’s an epidemic that seems to hit everyone, yes including me. I can’t explain it because you can do the same exact steps with different results. Ribs can be a fickle beast.

Step 6
Once the ribs are done, let them rest for a few minutes to let all the juices settle. When cutting the ribs, use a sharp, un-serrated knife. I cut mine into single or 2 bones so everybody can dig into those tender treats.

Tip: My family likes their ribs to be heavily sauced and burnt. So after the ribs are done, I apply a coat of barbecue sauce. Then cook them over direct heat for a minute or 2 on the charcoal or gas grill. Apply a second coat of sauce…repeat until the ribs are sticky and charred.