Arrange the ribs
bone-side down on the grate. Put the shortest slab in the middle and
the longer ones on either side. You may need to curve the ribs, as
shown in Picture 1. Squeeze them in as best you can and put the lid
Set the lid vent
100% open. Set the three bottom vents 33% open and leave them that way
throughout the entire cooking process.
You'll see a lot of
smoke coming out of the lid vent and maybe from around the lid and
access door. This is completely normal and will eventually subside.
Cook the ribs
for 3 hours. No peeking allowed!
When you hit the 3
hour mark, remove the lid and check the ribs for tenderness.
The best way
to tell whether your ribs are cooked to perfection is to use the "tear
test". Take hold of two adjacent bones toward the middle of the slab
and give them a pull. If the meat offers a bit of resistance but then tears easily, you
know the ribs are done just right. Other indicators
of doneness, such as how far the meat has pulled
down the bone or whether a toothpick passes easily through the meat, are
not as reliable as the tear test.
ribs are probably not fully tender at the 3 hour mark. Quickly spray
the meat-side of the ribs with apple juice using a spray bottle,
sprinkle lightly with some of the remaining rub, and replace the lid.
Continue to cook
the ribs and check for tenderness every 30 minutes. They will
probably be finished after 4 to 4-1/2 hours.
When the ribs pass
the tear test, brush them with the sauce mixture and leave them in
the cooker for another 10-15 minutes before removing.
It's possible that
some slabs may achieve tender perfection before others. If so,
remove them from the cooker and wrap tightly in wide, heavy-duty
aluminum foil while waiting for the others to finish cooking.