Preparation / Directions:
I too have the smokin' pit pro. The first thing you want to do , if you haven't already , is to season it, or "burn it in". Spray the entire cooking chamber, and grates with "Pam", or wipe it all down with a vegetable oil. Light a fire with wood, briquettes, or lump charcoal in the firebox. Open the vents to the firebox wide open and let it go for about an hour, with the smokestack wide open. Your smoker is now seasoned and you've burnt away any impurities that may be present from the manufacturing process. Once you've done this you won't have to do it again.
I burn oak logs in my smoker. I split them into smaller pieces than I would if burning them in a fireplace. I dislike the flavor I get from briquettes. I like lump charcoal a lot. It burns hotter and imparts a good taste to whatever I'm cooking. It costs more than the oak I use, and that is why I usually reserve it for grilling steaks and lamb chops and such. If you can get it locally, and don't have access to some good hardwood logs, by all means, use the lump charcoal. I prefer the lump mesquite, but any would be good.
Get yourself some nice ribs. Baby back ribs are even better, as far as I'm concerned, but that is just a personal opinion. I find the spare ribs are just too fatty, and if not cut properly by the butcher, can contain a lot of cartilage. I like to pull the membrane off the backside. Stick a dull knife under the membrane, at about the second bone in and work it along to the first bone and out. Grab the membrane with a paper towel and pull it down the length of the ribs until it is off. Don't worry if some of it tears and stays on. As long as most of it is removed, they will be fine. In fact, some people don't bother to remove the membrane at all. Sometime on Friday put together a rub and rub it into the ribs well. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate over night. If using spareribs, they will take about six hours to cook on the smoker.
Baby backs will take about 4 hours.
About an hour before you're ready to put the ribs on the smoker, take them out of the refrigerator, leave them wrapped, and allow them to come to room temperature on the counter.
Now, you want to get the fire started. Open the vent all the way. Put your lump charcoal in and light it. I prefer to use lots of news paper under the charcoal, instead of using starter fluid. However, if it's cold out and the humidity is high, I keep a can of fluid handy as a last resort. Leave the lid on the firebox open for about half an hour to let the charcoal get nice and hot. Now comes the tricky part. Make sure the smokestack is open at least 3/4 of the way, if not all the way. I usually leave mine all the way open. Close the lid on the firebox and close the side vent about 3/4 closed. Watch the temp gauge on the cooking chamber. Try to regulate the vent on the firebox to get a cooking temp as read on your gauge of about 265-275F. That should bring the temperature at grate level to about 220F. The Brinkmanns have a variance of about 40-50F between the top of the smoker to the grate level where the meat is actually cooking. In fact, while cooking the ribs, touch the top of the cooker with your hand. Notice how you can only put your hand there for a second or two? Now place your hand underneath the cooker. You can probably keep your hand there for a long time. Just thought I'd throw this info in so you can see the variable on the cooker.
Once you think you have a good temperature hold on the cooker, lay your ribs right on the rack in the cooking chamber. When doing ribs, you will have one end very near to the firebox. I always take a small piece of foil and put one part under the ribs near the firebox and bend it upwards to shield the ends from burning. Rotate the ribs a couple of times while cooking, as the far end of the smoker will be hotter than the other. This just helps for even cooking.
If you have a mop to use on the ribs put it on about every forty five
minutes to an hour. Be prepared and do it quick so as not to lose all your heat. If you don't have a mop, that's o.k. too. If you don't have one but want to use one, just make some extra rub and mix it in with a can of beer and some cider vinegar and use that. Or experiment. Feed the fire as necessary to maintain the temp. If you are stuck using briquettes, I would suggest you start them in a chimney and add them as needed.
Lump charcoal can be added right to the fire. The smoke flavor will be absent if using briquettes. It will be a little more noticeable with lump charcoal. If you want even more smoke, add a split hardwood log every hour or so, or you can purchase some hardwood chips at just about any store.
If you maintain the temperature pretty well, don't worry, you will see the temperature go up and down by 30-50F, the ribs should be done around the times I specified. To test them, just try to tear one with your hands, between two of the center bones. They should just pull apart and the meat will pull away from the bone leaving it clean. The internal temp of pork when well done will be about 170F. Don't worry if it goes a little over as might happen when cooking this way. Also, don't be alarmed if the meat still looks pink, as the smoke will impart a pink color to the meat do to a chemical reaction, that I can