Baby Back Ribs and Baseball

Take me out to the ballgame,

Take me out with the crowd,

Smoke me some baby backs,

I don’t care if I never get back …

Ok, ok –  I know that is not how the song goes.  But when you are like me and want some tender smoked pork that not only falls off the bone but is also sweet and spicy, this is the song that you need to sing.  I find as the baseball season for Little League is coming to an end, this song finds it’s way into my head a lot lately.  Surely, I cannot be the only one out there that daydreams about pork!  Bacon…ribs…oh sorry, there I go again drifting into meat hypnosis.

Lucky for me, my lovely husband has mastered the baby back rib smoking process over the last year.  We worked together to come up with a method that we find is foolproof every time.  It takes about 4 hours to slow cook in the smoker but the level of effort is pretty minimal.  It is so easy that Ian will get those ribs on the smoker, manage a game of baseball, and return home just in time to get dinner on the table.  I am one lucky gal.


Baby Back ribs before game time
Landon ready for his game and ribs 1/2 way done

Ian starts off with the baby back ribs from Costco.  They are economical and the meat always turns out great.  They come shrunk wrapped in the refrigerator section with 3 racks in a pack.  We typically make 1-2 racks depending on what else we are making.  For this evening we were making 2 full racks and a bunch of sides since we were hosting some dear friends.

After the game, friends were coming over for dinner and we wanted to cook up something great since our friend had done so much for me recently.  He is the wonderful photographer behind the great photos of me on this blog – see here for a few of his great ones –  He has also shared so many pointers with me on food styling and photography in general. I still have SO MUCH MORE to learn from him and appreciate all he has done so far.

Prepping the Ribs

For this day, Ian prepared the ribs as always with a dry rub. Use whatever you like if you have a recipe for a dry rub or buy a prepared mix since there are many found in stores nowadays. He covered all sides of the ribs with the rub and put them directly on the racks in the smoker, bone side down.

We have a Weber smoker, the medium sized option.  It is great for smoking several racks of ribs or ribs and chicken at the same time. We have even done a beef brisket before but that is something we are still trying to master. Ian likes his brisket to be fork tender and it needed a knife to cut when we made it. It was not tough by any means but not succulent like he likes. It also took I think 10 hours!  A baseball day is not the kind of day to have that stamina and commitment.

Ian uses hickory wood chips along with the charcoal in the smoker and once it reaches 250°, the ribs go on.  Maintaining the heat the 250-350° range is key. He has done it enough times that he knows what amount of chips and charcoal will maintain that heat range without having to tend to it and just lets it just go for hours like it is on cruise control.

The smoker should be between 250-300°

4 Hours Total in the Smoker

The baby back ribs take about 4 hours total.  Ian typically lets them smoke about 2 hours on the rack as seen below. Then midway through at the 2-hour mark, the second step is done. The ribs are then smoked for the final 2 hours while wrapped in foil.  With this game day, he did a small adjustment and did 1.5 hours with the direct grill method and 2.5 hours in the wrapped phase, see below.

Baby Back Ribs
Ribs ready for the wrapped phase


Ok, Ian will NOT allow me to tell you everything about this foil wrap phase — just in case he needs to enter any friendly yet competitive rib contests amongst our friends and neighbors.  There are a few ingredients in this method to ensure the meat takes on my flavor and the foil ensures the ribs are tender and stay juicy.

Let’s just say lay out some heavy duty foil, add your favorite sauce to all sides and seal up the foil into large packets. Our smoker is not a large diameter so we often have to cut the large racks in half to fit them, that is why this looks like a short rack. It is really a half rack.  Once wrapped they go back in the smoker, meat side down.


Baby Back ribs
Ribs ready to be “wrapped” in the second phase


Ready for First Pitch – Play Ball!

He got these packets back into the smoker and off we went to Landon’s baseball game.  It was the first time he was taking the pitcher’s mound so it was all around a great day!  Watching these little kids play baseball is both exciting and comedic at times. It is no MLB game that is for sure but when any child whether on your team or not has a great play, all the parents cheer.

Landon ready on the mound


Landon pitching
Here comes the heat!

Win or lose, at this level in Little League they play Fun to Fun.  I will say that Landon did a great job on the mound and threw several strikes.  It is stressful as a parent watching these milestones sometimes. I think (I KNOW!) I was more nervous than he was.

Post Game Rib Feed

Then when you get to come home and finish the night off with good friends and great food – perfection!  Ian took the foil packets off the smoker and let them rest for about 20 minutes. As we got the sides ready and poured some drinks, the pork is able to absorb back in some of the natural juices contained in the packets.

Packets of ribs

When we open the packets and put the racks of meat on the cutting board, I save the drippings from the foil into a glass measuring cup.  You DO NOT want to waste that liquid goodness.  Once the ribs are cut up, I pour the juices back over the ribs. This not only ensures all the flavor remains on every bite but helps keep the meat juicy and tender.


Pour juices back over ribs

Get out your wet naps and dig in!  We had our ribs this night with the green chile sweet corn casserole that is one of my kid’s favorites and is always a hit with guests.   It takes a bit of time in the oven but I prepared it ahead of time and just put it into the oven when we returned home. You can find that recipe here

You now have all the makings for amazing baby back ribs.  Feel confident that you can do this.  Would love to hear how you like to make your baby back ribs .




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