The Kamado Joe Rocks Ribs!

Bbarbecued beef ribs were the choice for my birthday dinner, so off to our hipster butcher Pete, of Pete’s Meats  we go! The rib recipe is by John Malik and was published in Bon Appetit magazine in July 2003.

kamado joe 2A Kamado Joe was recently added to the collection of outdoor charcoal cooking apparatus that we and our neighbours have accumulated over the years. The four of us are kind of hooked on charcoal cooking. Well…what an opportunity to barbecue those longed for beef ribs, don’t you think?

After around 4 hours, which included a bit of spritzing with water then basting with the fabulous barbecue sauce/glaze/mop, we ended up with the most amazing ribs that we have eaten, ever!

Hear and now…let it be said, if you are looking to buy a fabulous piece of equipment for charcoal barbecuing…you gotta check these babies out!

A Weber charcoal barbecue is what it seems is used in John Malik’s recipe and we did try it out a few years ago on ours…the consensus was the ribs needed more time on the barbecue than the recipe stated; the notes I wrote at the time said “tasted great” but change cooking time and keep the temperature as close to 250 F as possible. The ribs need to be really tender, juicy and succulent and that’s exactly how they turned out on the Kamado Joe. Rib perfection!

A note about briquettes…we no longer use these but switched up to lump charcoal a number of years ago…you may wish to consider checking them out if you haven’t already.

Makes 6 servings

Marinade and ribs: We used 2 racks of beef ribs, each with 7 ribs each, doubling the marinade amount. It does sound like a lot of salt, but we didn’t find it so & we don’t like a lot of salt…it seemed just right. We marinated and cooked the rib racks whole, cut them up & served with extra sauce on the side for dipping. We made the “Sauce” amount as per the recipe, basted one time, serving extra sauce on the side.

DSC_2841 nx2Marinade for Ribs:

1 1/2 cups water
1 12-ounce bottle pale ale
1/4 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
5 fresh thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
16 beef short ribs or 8 whole beef ribs


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
DSC_2887 nx21 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup bourbon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
Leaves from 5 fresh thyme sprigs

Charcoal chimney for starting coals

45 charcoal briquettes

Marinade and ribs:

Combine all marinade ingredients except ribs in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Cool marinade completely. Place ribs in large heavy-duty resealable plastic bag; add marinade. Seal bag; turn to coat ribs. Refrigerate overnight, turning bag occasionally.

For Sauce:

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add vinegar & boil until mixture is reduced to 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add ketchup, molasses, & 1/4 cup water, then bourbon; stir to blend. Bring sauce to simmer. Stir in salt and white pepper. Simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors. Stir in thyme leaves. (Sauce can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Kamado Joe method for cooking the ribs:

Get things going in the same way as above with a whole bunch of lump charcoal, preferably in a charcoal chimney to get them going. Open the vents up a bit on the top and bottom and get the temperature up to 250 F (allowing approximately 30 minutes.) Place the marinated ribs on the grill, close lid & let things cook for about 3 hrs. Check to see if they are really tender (watch the temperature gauge occasionally to ensure that it’s keeping fairly steady at 250 F), adjusting the vents if necessary. If the meat seems tender when pierced with a sharp knife, spritz with water, cover with lid, cook for about 20 minutes, spritz again, cook 15 minutes, then baste both sides with sauce; cover with lid & cook for about 45 minutes more. Remove ribs from K. J. (as she is affectionately now known), cover with foil & allow to rest for 20 minutes or so; carve between ribs & get those napkins ready!

John Malik’s method for cooking the ribs:

Place handful of torn newspaper in bottom of charcoal chimney. Top with 30 charcoal briquettes. Remove top grill rack from barbecue. Place chimney on bottom rack. Light newspaper; let charcoal burn until ash is gray, about 30 minutes.

Open bottom barbecue vent. Turn out hot charcoal onto 1 side of bottom rack. Using metal spatula, move charcoal to cover approximately 1/3 of rack at 1 side. Fill foil loaf pan halfway with water; place opposite charcoal on bottom rack.

Return top rack to barbecue. Arrange ribs on top rack above water in loaf pan. Cover barbecue with lid, positioning top vent directly over ribs. Insert stem of candy thermometer through top vent, with gauge outside & tip near ribs (thermometer should not touch meat or barbecue rack); leave thermometer in place during cooking. Use top & bottom vents to maintain temperature between 250°F and 300°F, opening vents wider to increase heat and closing to decrease heat. Leave other vents closed. Check temperature every 10 minutes.

Cook ribs until meat is very tender when pierced with knife, turning ribs occasionally and basting often with sauce the last 10 minutes of cooking, about 3 hours total. Open barbecue only when necessary to turn or baste meat & close quickly to minimize loss of heat and smoke.

After first 30 minutes of cooking, use technique described earlier to light additional 15 charcoal briquettes in charcoal chimney set atop nonflammable surface. If cooking temperature drops below 250°F, use oven mitts to lift off top rack with ribs and place on heatproof surface. Using tongs, add half of hot gray charcoal from chimney to bottom rack. Replace top rack on barbecue, placing ribs above water in loaf pan. Cover with lid.

Transfer ribs to plates; brush with more sauce and serve, passing any remaining sauce separately.

Phyllis Signature


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