Sam’s First Smoked Ribs

This article is an account of a friend and aspiring Grill Master’s first attempt at preparing ribs on a grill. Sam has recently decided to take on something a little more challenging to grill than burgers and hotdogs. Really, it shouldn’t be a surprise to those that know him. Sam has taken on many challenging things in life. He is a husband, a father, an M.D., a marathon runner, a Dirty Kanza 200 rider, and so much more. We look forward to hearing about more of Sam’s grilling adventures.


So I like to cook. Specifically, I love grilling. Most of my grill experiences center on the usual fare of burgers, brat’s, and ‘dogs. I’m particular about how my food is cooked. I don’t like it burnt or charred.

I have my old Kenmore Master Flame, 2-burner grill, that has seen better days. I’m on replacement burner number three with this grill (and soon to need #4). I have been dissatisfied with my food products on this old grill. It’s a gas grill, but seems to take forever to heat and the hot spots are always difficult to find. The Kenmore has been relegated to a keep food warm grill. My replacement grill is my Coleman RoadTrip grill – which I love.

As a long time fan of all things meaty, I wanted to try my hand at smoking some food. I thought about getting a dedicated smoker. Looking online, I saw all sorts and styles of smokers. To me it seemed all you need to smoke is a box. The old Kenmore could work for that. I looked up a recipe for ribs and went for it.

Sam's Pork Rub Prep

Sam preparing pork ribs for the grill.

I used pork spare ribs for my first meat. It happened to be on sale, which is always a plus. It was a rather large rack, and I was a little worried about how I could fit it in my grill.

My wife has been selling “Wildtree” items, which are mostly an assortment of oils, spices, and rubs. I picked out a few that looked good: Rancher Steak Rub, and Rockin’ Moroccan Rub, and probably a few other things that I can’t remember. I let the ribs sit in the rub, while I fixed up my grill.

Since my grill doesn’t have a thermostat I picked up a cooking thermostat at Wal-Mart. While at Wal-Mart, I picked up some Mesquite chips to provide the smoke.

Grill prep: I looked at my burners – oh my! Very corroded. As I mentioned previously, it’s a 2-burner with a burner bar. The flames no longer are uniformly dispersed and mostly come out centrally where rust has erodes large patches of the stainless steel. Undeterred, I placed an aluminum water tray to cover half of the burners for the indirect heat and “flame on” on the other side. I made about 3 little aluminum foil bags for the hickory chips, cut some slits in them to let out the smoke.

By now the ribs had set for about 2 hours. The large rack was a bit too big to fit in ½ the grill, but just barely. I decided to position the ribs to let the thicker side hang over the ½ way point and put a little bit of foil under to try to reflect some of the heat.

I smoked those ribs at around 200-250 degrees for about 6 hours. Since this was my first attempt, I think I checked in a little too often. In retrospect, I was a little short on the time or a little low on the heat. For the last 15 minutes, I transferred the ribs to my Coleman grill to cook the glaze onto the surface. I used Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce.

I’m a big believer that food presentation makes food taste better. As sides, I had a fresh green lettuce salad, with tomatoes from the garden, and some local corn on the cob.

I would self-rate the ribs about a “C”. They were cooked enough, but just barely. The meat seemed to want to cling to the bone bit. But man, those same ribs reheated where great!

Notes to self: Cook em more. The rub was good. Need to fix my grill burners!

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