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Apple Cinnamon Brined Baby Back Ribs

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I grew up eating ribs that were, shall we say, less than stellar. You may have read in some of my other blogs about my dad boiling ribs to a slow and painful flavor death before slathering them with sauce and burning them to a crisp on the grill—not great, to put it mildly.

Over the years I have experimented with many different types of ribs. This recipe is a favorite of mine and perfect for something slightly different than the typical BBQ rib. Today, I am using my barrel cooker, but you can use any grill or smoker. Just keep in mind cooking times may differ slightly with each style of cooker.

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Apple Cinnamon Brined Baby Back Ribs

Serves: 6 | Prep time: 25 hours | Cook time: 3.5 hours

 

Ingredients:
3 racks of baby back ribs

Brine:
6 cups water
3 cups apple cider or apple juice
2 cups white sugar
6 cinnamon sticks
2 tbsp black peppercorns 
1 tbsp whole cloves 
1 tbsp salt
2 bay leaves

Rub: 
1 cup Code 3 Spices 5-0 Rub 
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Equipment: 
Grill or Smoker
Apple Wood Chunks

Step-by-Step

Step 1: Combine water and apple cider in large stock pot and bring to rolling boil. Add remaining brine ingredients, cover and let boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Set aside one cup of brine in a spray bottle.

Step 2: Remove the membrane from the backside of the ribs, as seen here. Think of this membrane as an impenetrable flavor barrier. Neither your rub nor your brine can get through this membrane, so removing it will make all the difference in the world to your finished ribs.

Step 3: Submerge ribs into the room temperature brine, making sure they are completely covered. I find it’s easiest to use one of the cheap disposable aluminum chaffing pans for this.

Step 4: Place ribs in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Step 5: While the ribs are brining, combine Code 3 Spices 5-0 Rub and ground cinnamon, and put into a shaker bottle—set aside. You can make more of this if you like, I use this rub on other things as well, the cinnamon brings a unique flavor to various meats.

Step 6: Preheat the cooker to 285°F – 300°F.

Step 7: Remove ribs from the brine and discard brine. Pat dry with a paper towel.

Step 8: Rub a very thin coat of vegetable oil onto the ribs. This will act as a binder for the rub we made. 

Step 9: Sprinkle the rub generously onto the racks of ribs. Ensure you cover the front, back and sides of each rack.

baby back ribs seasoned

Step 10: I like to use two hooks when I am hanging ribs. You can get away with one, but two just keeps things more secure.

hooking baby back ribs in grill

Step 11: Place first meat hook onto the rack of ribs, as seen in the picture I usually go about two bones deep on the first hook.

hook rack of ribs for grilling

hooking baby back ribs for grilling

Step 12: Note where the curvature of the first hook is when placing the second hook. I have cooked ribs with a single hook but I just feel better about the extra support.

how to hook baby back ribs for grilling

brine baby back ribs grill

hooked brine baby back ribs grill

Step 13: Add apple wood chunks to white hot coals and hang ribs, cook for about 3 hours.

hanging baby back ribs in barrel cooker

Step 14: Remove from cooker using a hook, do not grab the hooks with bare hands, allow to rest for about 10 minutes uncovered before slicing and serving.

brine baby back ribs cooked in barrel cooker

 

Make this Apple Cinnamon Rib Recipe: 

Apple Cinnamon Brined Baby Back Ribs
Prep Time
1 d 1 hr
Cook Time
3 hrs 30 mins
Total Time
1 d 4 hrs 30 mins
 
Servings: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 racks Baby Back Ribs
Brine
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 cups apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 6 sticks cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp whole cloves
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 bay leaves
Rub
  • 1 cup Code 3 Spices 5-0 Rub
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Combine water and apple cider in a large stock pot, bringing to rolling boil. 

  2. Add remaining brine ingredients, cover, and let boil for 10 minutes. 

  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Separate one cup and set aside in refrigerator.

  4. Remove membrane from the backside of the ribs.

  5. Submerge ribs into the room temperature brine.

  6. Place ribs in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  7. While the ribs are brining, combine the Code 3 Spices 5-0 Rub and ground cinnamon and put into a shaker bottle—set aside. 

  8. Preheat the barrel cooker to 285°F-300°F.

  9. Remove ribs from the brine. Pat dry with a paper towel.

  10. Rub a very thin coat of vegetable oil onto the ribs. 

  11. Sprinkle rub generously onto the racks of ribs. 

  12. Add apple wood chunks to hot coals and hang ribs in the barrel. Close lid and let cook for 3 hours, spritzing every hour with brine that was set aside earlier.

  13. Remove from cooker and allow to rest for about 10 minutes uncovered before slicing and serving.