Keto as a Way of Life
Smoked Country Style Pork Ribs Recipe
Making Friends with Country Style Ribs
There I was, standing in the meat section of the local Grub Retailer when I heard my name. Strange; it was coming from the end of the counter, past the pork shoulders and spareribs.
The gentle call was issuing from a section that I mostly ignored because I didn’t know what dwelled there.
Sometimes there are those ingredients that are like that creepy, old guy at the end of the cul-de-sac. They look funny. You don’t have much experience with them. And mostly, you avoid them in case their weirdness level is off your comfort meter.
What I found at the end of the meat case that day was one of those ingredients.Well, I was that kid who made friends with the old fellow down the street.
Whether it’s an adventurous spirit, pure curiosity or an unwillingness to let the creep factor get the better of me, I answered the call when the Country Style Pork Ribs spoke to me.
The real question at that point was…. how did they even know my name?! I’m thankful they did because, like that old fellow down the street, I feel like I made a new friend that day.
When I got this perfectly packaged pork prize home, I hit the interwebs to find out what in the world I should do with it.
The first thing searched was what exactly a Country Style Pork Rib is. There are actually two places on the hog to harvest the meat for these “ribs”.
Neither of those places actually involve the animal’s ribs. In fact, you can often find country style pork ribs that are sold completely boneless.
The meat just happens to be like rib meat because it lives in the same neighborhood; sorta like the old guy down the street.
The two places this particular cut is taken from are:
- Near the end of the tenderloin. These tend to have less fat on them. Occasionally, you will find these with a piece of rib bone still attached.
- Shoulder steaks. This cut is more common because it comes from a larger area of the animal. Butchers trim this piece off of the Boston Butt, so it has the same flavor profile and muscle texture.
You will find that both cuts are similar in texture, are well-marbled, have great flavor, and are versatile enough for a variety of cooking methods.
A Similar Cut of Meat
There is a similar cut, taken from nearly the same part of the animal, called a St. Louis Pork Steak. If your butcher doesn’t have Country Style Ribs, look for this cut.
You can also order this cut online at Porter Road.
I like getting our meat from Porter Road because it’s all pasture-raised, handled right and those guys are local for us, right here in Nashville.
Once I understood the anatomy Country Style Pork Ribs, I went about getting YouTube Certified in ways to cook ithem.
Then I read through several recipes.
It turns out, everyone has an opinion about how to dish this particular cut of beast; which is weird because people usually aren’t so opinionated (I don’t have a “tongue in cheek” font, so you’ll have to pretend that last statement was written with one).
Using the Dr. Frankenstein school of philosophy, I cobbled together a treatment for my Country Style Ribs that is surely the best possible way to cook them… in my humble opinion.
Fire it Up
Get your smoker prepped with your wood of choice. Our target temperature for this cook is 250 degrees F.
I use a Traeger and I can’t recommend it highly enough!!!
Traeger Pellet Grill
The smoker/grill I use is the Traeger Texas Elite 34 pellet grill. I can’t tell you enough how much we love this bad boy!
I've cooked everything from cake to ribs on mine. Yes... I said cake! (keto cake, of course)
It makes smoking meats easy, and gets hot enough to grill as well. It's been well worth every penny for us.
You NEED one of these in your backyard.
I use a pellet grill and there are a lot of easy wood options for pellets.
For pork, I use hickory most often, but oak and mequite are great choices for Country Style Ribs as well.
I’ve heard others say that Apple, Cherry, Maple or Pecan are good when smoking pork also. My argument is that Country Style Ribs won’t be on the smoker long enough for the subtle flavors in those woods to make a difference in the meat.
In my opinion, it’s better to use those woods for longer cooks like shoulders, butts, and briskets.
Natural Hardwood Pellets for the Traeger Pellet Grill
Amazon has several types of Traeger pellets, so check them all out; Alder, Apple, Cherry, Hickory, Maple, Mesquite, Oak, Pecan, Texas Beef Blend, and Turkey.
They're conveniently all listed on this one page on Amazon.
There's nothing like the flavor that hardwood smoke adds to food. They all have their own character, and I love every. single. one.
Spice it Up
You can make your own spice rub or use your favorite season mix. If you use a premade rub, make sure to read the label.
A lot of premade rubs contain sugars and/or fillings that add carbs.
If you’re interested in making the pork rub that I use, check out our recipe for a Keto Pork Dry Rub.
The spice mixture included with this recipe contains Granulated Monkfruit as the sweetening.
I like using Monkfruit for this, not only because it’s Keto-friendly, but because it doesn’t become bitter when heat is applied, and that’s important in a prolonged heating method like smoking.
Monkfruit quickly became our favorite Keto sweetener. It tastes good, has no aftertaste that we can discern and it doesn’t affect our blood glucose at all. It also stands up to heat better than most other Keto sweeteners.
The only downside is that it’s a little more expensive than other sweeteners, but we think it’s worth it.
Granulated (aka Classic) Monkfruit is a substitute for white sugar, and can be used as a 1:1 replacement in most recipes.
Learn More About Sweeteners
Interested in learning a little more about sweeteners and where they rank for Keto?
We put together a handy chart of 55 sweeteners commonly used on the market today. The chart shows you which sweeteners are actually sugar, which ones are bad chemicals or natural, where they land on the Glycemic Index and more.
We also rank each sweetener on the list as Good, Bad, or Ugly for Keto.
Country Style Pork Ribs actually work well with just about any BBQ sauce (as long as it’s the sugar free kind to stay within the Keto lines).
I like a mustard sauce for them so that’s the recipe that I’ve included at the end of this post, but we’ve had these with our Keto Jack Daniels BBQ Sauce and our Keto Pumpkin and Bourbon BBQ Sauce recipes.
Both are fantastic on Country Style Ribs!
Come Together, Right Now… Oil the Meat
Go ahead and sing that header; you know you want to, you crazy Beatles fan.
This is the point in the party where you give the Country Style Ribs a light drizzle of olive oil. Rub it all over to provide a thin coat of oil.
Don’t use extra virgin olive oil. It imparts too much of the wrong flavor and doesn’t do as well in the smoker as regular olive oil due to its lower smoke point.
Sprinkle the dry rub over the top, sides, and bottom of the meat.
Now give those ribs a massage to –
- Make sure the seasonings work their way into the meat
- Ensure a thorough, even dispersion of flavor.
Note on the Rub: The amount of spice rub you use depends on your preference. I caution against using too much, though, because it’s easy to over do it.
These ribs have so much flavor of their own, and take on enough of that nice hickory smoke, they don’t need a lot of extra help. Also, the mustard sauce at the end provides a lot of flavor.
Time to put the smoke in your “Smoked Country Style Pork Ribs”
Put your country style pork ribs directly on the grill grating in the smoker.
While I never have problems with my ribs sticking to the grill, some people swear by the pre meat application of oil or similarly edible anti-stick substance to their grill.
If that’s you, go for it.
Pro Tip: If you’re using oil in a spray can, be careful spraying it on or near an open flame. You and your eyebrows have been warned.
This is Where the Baste Drops
I guess you could call this the ‘dubstep’. :p
It’s the step where you apply whichever BBQ Sauce you’re using.
It’s definitely the step where you will add some funk to the final flavor. About an hour into the smoke, bush the top and sides of the ribs with the sauce, flip them and brush the bottoms.
Repeat this step after another hour and once more at the very end of the cook.
Silicone Basting Brush
If you don't have one of these for your grill, you need it. A good basting brush is one of those culinary essentials, especially if grill very often.
I like this WALFOS silicone basting brush because it's durable, resistant to high temperatures and easy to clean.
I've slathered enough sauce and butter on grilled meats with my silicone basting brush to float the Titanic in!
Pull ‘Em, Rest ‘Em, Eat ‘Em
The header says it all, but you’re still reading, so you’re probably hoping for more detail.
Pork is safe to eat at 145 degrees F, but country style pork ribs need a bit more time in the heat to reach that tender texture you want with a low and slow cooking method like smoking.
At 2 hours into the smoke, start checking these with whatever thermal measurement gadget you prefer.
The temperature you want for these is 195 degrees F, though you can pull them at 190 and the carry-over heat will push them up the rest of the way.
- These will take longer than 2 hours to hit 190. Since all smokers are different, I recommend starting to check them at 2 hours to give you a baseline of where the temperature is at. Depending on the weather outside, using my smoker, I’ve had these hit 190 in just over 2 hours, and I’ve had them go for as long as 3 hours. This is where knowing your smoker will help you.
- If you have to open the smoker to check the temp, do it quickly so you lose as little heat as possible. An internal, probe thermometer is will prevent heat loss.
- Check them roughly every 15-20 minutes after the 2 hour mark.
This bluetooth digital meat thermometer by Solis completely changed my smoking/grilling game.
I no longer cook meat by time, but by temperature. You can set alerts when one of the 6 probes reaches specific temps or temperature ranges. Since it connects to an app on your phone via bluetooth, you can even put on a 6 hour brisket and go take a nap! The alarm will let you know when the meat hits the right temp.
That takes a lot of guesswork out of longer cooks.
Meat turns out perfect every time!
Don’t be worried that the meat will dry out at that temperature. The reason you want to go this high with the temperature is because country style pork ribs contain a good bit of connective tissue and collagen, which won’t begin to melt until about 180 degrees.
When collagen melts, it turns into a gelatin which is able to absorb up to ten times its weight in water.
This will keep your ribs nice and moist throughout the rest of the cook.
Go ahead and tong your, now delectable, ribs onto your favorite carrying device and head on into the house. I enjoy burning the hide off the roof of my mouth, so I typically start trying to eat stuff right off the grill.
However, if you’re not a glutton of that type of punishment, I recommend giving your ribs about 10 minutes to rest before serving.
Letting them rest gives the temperature a chance to finish rising. In that time, the meat fibers get their chance to reabsorb juices and you get your chance to grab the towels and the drinks. You’re going to be needing them!
You’ll find that these are pull apart tender! You’re welcome to gnaw the meat right off the bone, though, if there is one.
If you’re one of those dainty sorts, you could use a knife, but let’s be honest, it’s only for show. I don’t think you can eat good BBQ of any kind and worry about what you look like doing it.
If the meat is good enough, it’ll make you forget all that social grace nonsense anyway. And these country style ribs are definitely good enough for that!
Thanks for Reading
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Smoked Country Style Pork Ribs Recipe
You'll want to buy extra because after you and your friends try them, there will be a rush for second and third helpings!
Country Style Ribs Ingredients
- 4-6 lbs Country Style Pork Ribs
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil NOT extra virgin
- 1/2 cup Dry Rub - Approx recipe below
- 1-2 cup Mustard BBQ Sauce - Approx recipe below
- Hickory Wood Chips/Pellets oak, mesquite or fruit woods optional
Dry Rub Ingredients
Set meat out for approximately 1 hour to reach room temperature
Prep smoker with your wood of choice (I prefer hickory) and bring temperature up to 250 degrees
Mix up the Dry Rub in a bowl by combing the ingredients in the rub recipe above and giving them a thorough stir. Optional: grind them in a spice/coffee grinder for 10 seconds
Mix up the Sauce in a separate bowl by whisking together all sauce ingredients until well combined
Drizzle ribs with olive oil just to coat and massage it in so that all surface area of the meat is covered with a thin layer of oil
Sprinkle ribs with dry rub, making sure to cover top, bottom and sides. Give it a good coat without going overboard.
Massage dry rub into the meat, ensuring thorough coverage
Put ribs on the smoker until internal temperature reaches 195 degrees. Approx 3 hours, depending on your smoker. Start checking temp at 2 hours. Check every 15-20 minutes.
NOTE: You can do these in your oven. Use the same cook temps and time.
Apply Mustard BBQ sauce approximately 1 time per hour, flipping ribs each time to ensure even cooking.
Cooking time will vary depending on your type of smoker, how long you keep the lid open, and the weather.
These macros are an approximation based on the size/weight of the ribs I made for this recipe. We started with 6 pounds of ribs, but after losing bones, reduced size during cooking and trimming uneaten fat, we got 6 servings out of these. Your results may vary a bit, so plan accordingly
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