Smoked Pomegranate Chipotle Barbecue Ribs

Easily turn your gas grill into a makeshift smoker to make these sweet, sticky, and slightly spicy Smoked Pomegranate Chipotle Ribs.
By Chris Cockren

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Ribs are like the epitome of awesome summer food. It’s direct hand to mouth eating, complete with bbq sauce being slathered all up in your face. There’s nothing better than getting together with friends and polishing off a few racks for ribs. Ah, summer. Good times. So listen, turning your gas grill into a smoker is pretty darn easy and makes you one culinary bad-donkey. And chicks dig culinary bad-donkeys.

We are going to set up the grill for indirect grilling, which simply means that only one side of the grill will be ignited. And we’ll let the ribs hang out on the unlit side so they cook low-and-slow. That’s the key to super tender juicy ribs. Low-and-slow. Say it with me now. Low-and-slow. Let’s set up that makeshift smoker, shall we?

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On the left side of your grill, place a shallow disposable aluminum pan right underneath the grate and fill with water. This will create moist, even heat. That’s a good thing. Now we need that handy dandy wood chip foil packet. Hit up your favorite home improvement warehouse (or use the almighty Amazon) to grab some wood chips. Experiment with whatever type of wood your little heart desires, although I typically use a mix of apple and hickory. All you need to do then is take a handful of chips, wrap ‘em up in foil, and poke a few holes on the top with a knife. You’ll want to make around 4 packets.

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Place one of those packets in front of your water pan. On the right side of your grill, place an oven thermometer on top of the grate. Don’t go trusting your built in thermometer on the top of your grill. It’s probably not accurate. Not even close.

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Start by only turning on the left-most burner on around half power. Close the lid and let it come up to temperature. For smoking, you want to try to stabilize the heat between 225-250°F. If it is close but just a little under, try bumping up that burner a little bit. If it’s not close to 225°F, try turning on the adjacent burner on its lowest setting. Remember, the magic range you’re looking for is 225-250°F. You may have to tweak the burners throughout the process, as outside temperature, rain, wind, etc. can all affect the inside of the grill.

Once you have the heat stabalized, throw those ribs on cool side of the grill (right side), close the lid, and walk away. Check on your ribs periodically, about every 45 minutes or so, to check the grill temperature, refill the water pans, and replace the wood chip packets (you’ll know they are done when it’s not smoking anymore).

If you’re using St. Louis Style ribs, it’ll take aroudn 5 to 6 hours. Apparently baby back ribs take around 3 to 4 hours, although I haven’t tried it… yet. Boom, smoked ribs on a gas grill.

And although some people like their ribs commando (i.e. no sauce), I’m all about the dry rub + bbq sauce combo when it comes to ribs. And this sweet, sticky, and slightly spicy Pomegranate Chipotle BBQ Sauce is just about good enough to bathe in.

Smoked Pomegranate Chipotle Barbecue Ribs
 
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Easily turn your gas grill into a makeshift smoker to make these sweet, sticky, and slightly spicy Smoked Pomegranate Chipotle Ribs.
Author:
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Barbecue
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 full rack St. Louis style or baby back ribs
  • Wood chips (I prefer hickory and apple)
Dry Rub
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • ½ tablespoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon chile powder
Pomegranate-Chipotle BBQ Sauce
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) pomegranate juice
  • 1 lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 chipotle pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard powder
Instructions
  1. Full combine all dry rub ingredients in a small bowl, breaking up any lumps with your fingers.
  2. If the butcher has not removed the membrane from the underside of your ribs, do it yourself (you can also ask your butcher to do so when buying the ribs). See this video for how to pull off the membrane.
  3. Pat ribs dry with a paper towel, and then apply dry rub to both sides of the rack of ribs, patting down to adhere.
  4. On the left side of your grill, place a shallow disposable aluminum pan right underneath the grate and fill with water. This will create moist, even heat.
  5. Create 4 foil packets filled with a large handful of woodchops. Poke a few holes on the top of each packet with a knife. Place one of those packets in front of your water pan.
  6. On the right side of your grill, place an oven thermometer on top of the grate. Don't just trust your built in thermometer on the top of your grill. It's probably not accurate.
  7. Start by turning on just the left-most burner on around half power. Close the lid and let grill come to temperature. For smoking, you want to try to stabilize the heat between 225-250°F. If it is close but not quite at 225°F yet, try bumping up that burner a little bit. If it’s not close to 225°F, try turning on the adjacent burner on its lowest setting. Remember, the magic range you’re looking for is 225-250°R. You may have to tweak the burners throughout the process, as outside temperature, rain, wind, etc. can all affect the inside of the grill.
  8. Once heat is stabilized, place ribs on cool side of the grill (right side), close the lid, and walk away. Check on ribs periodically, about every 45 minutes or so, to check the grill temperature, refill the water pans, and replace the wood chip packets (you'll know they are done when it's not smoking anymore).
  9. Allow 5-6 hours for St. Louis style ribs, or apparently 3-4 hours for baby back ribs (although I haven't tried it yet). When you pick up the slab of ribs with tongs and bounce it gently, the surface should crack.
  10. Remove ribs from grill and slather both sides of the rack with pomegranate chipotle bbq sauce. Remove water pan from grill, turn up heat to high, and place ribs directly over high heat. Keep grill lid open and watch ribs to keep from burning. Allow sauce to bubble and caramelize a bit. Flip and repeat.
  11. Remove ribs from grill, slice into pieces, and devour. Serve with extra pomegranate chipotle bbq sauce if desired.
Pomegranate Chipotle BBQ Sauce
  1. Combine pomegranate juice, lemon juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce to low to maintain a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 15-20 minutes, until mixture reduces to a syrup consistency that coats the back of your spoon (about 3 tablespoons). Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to simmer until mixture thickens to sauce consistency, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat to cool completely.
 


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