By the same token, we are hopeless foodies who take our next meal quite seriously, and very little gets in the way of our menu planning. That's why on a recent camping trip, I thought it a wonderful opportunity to highlight "baby back ribs" as a meal option and take the mystery and fear out of their preparation once and for all.
We all love to grill, but for some reason ribs always seem to be the most intimidating of all our meat choices. This is something I understand completely. But I also think our collective aversion to cooking ribs on the grill has a lot to do with the internet and an overabundance of techniques that claim to be the only way to do it properly. Just enter "grilling ribs" into your favorite search engine and you'll see exactly what I mean; you'll get nothing short of thousands of "do this" and "don't do that" tips that do little more than leave you wondering why you ever considered ribs as an option in the first place.
Well, I'm here to tell you, "it ain't so bad." And to prove it, I'm going to show you how easy it is to get deliciously tender ribs anytime, anywhere. In fact, I'm going to leave my home grill behind, as well as my comfort zone, and do it while in the midst of a family camping trip in an open fire pit by creating something of a makeshift smoker.
Prep for the ribs is minimal. While in camp, I mixed up my favorite rub recipe (as shown below), and after cutting each rack in two, rubbed both sides generously. I then wrapped them tightly and placed them in the cooler. After an hour or so, I removed them and allowed the packages to come up to room temperature while I attended to my grill (about 20 minutes). That is all the prep these delicious ribs will need.
One of my greatest joys while outdoors is attending to the campfire and preparing a meal that feels anything but "picnic-like". Sure, nobody likes a burger, frankfurter or Smore over an open fire more than I do, but few things satisfy me like creating a gourmet meal from the most primitive of implements.
Arriving at our camp sight, I sized up the fire pit, which for my purposes was actually quite nice. Though it needed to be cleaned of debris and listed gently to one side, it contained a steel ring about 20-inches in diameter which would act as the perfect barbecuing instrument for my madness. So as Karen, Janelle, and Pippi set off on a short hike, I got down to business...
Note: When placed on hot coals, the wood chips will emit an extraordinary amount of smoke. That's exactly what you want.