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Pit Master Heath Riles stopped by for this video to show me his secrets to winning rib competitions. Heath has won the Rib Team of the year in the Memphis BBQ Network for the past 4 years; (He’s well on his way to locking up a fifth title) so he knows a little something about cooking ribs. I’m thankful he’s willing to share his technique with us.
Heath cooks Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork in bbq competitions. This meat is known for its’ superior marbling and flavor. The ribs are given a quick trim to remove and excess fat or sinew and he pulls the membrane off the back. For KCBS contest Heath cooks 4-6 slabs of St. Louis cut ribs and for MBN contests he cooks 12 slabs of the loin back ribs which are a Memphis staple.
The ribs get a light coat of yellow mustard; then a generous layer of his Jalapeño Garlic seasoning; followed by medium layers of his signature Pecan and Honey Rubs. The same process is repeated on both sides, and he seasons the ribs about 20 minutes prior to going on the pit.
For this cook Heath used my Trager grill running at 275⁰ with a mixture of Hickory and Cherry pellets for smoke flavor. The ribs go on the grill for about 2- 2 ½ hours or until the rub adheres to the meat and then they’re wrapped.
In the wrap apply a light layer of Honey rub and lay the slab meat side down. Add a touch more Honey rub to the back side and ¾ cup of Heath’s Butter Bath mixture (it’s a powdered form of Brown Sugar, Butter, Honey, and other spices mixed with apple juice). Be sure to double wrap the ribs so the bones don’t poke through the foil.
The ribs go back on the pit for an hour to tenderize and Heath pulls them off the pit when the internal temperature reaches 204 – 208⁰.
He carefully takes the each slab out of the foil wrap and dust the back side with his Sweet Rub and light glaze (1 cup Sweet BBQ Sauce & ½ cup Tangy Vinegar). Then repeats the same process on the meat side.
The ribs go back on the pit for 15-20 minutes to set the glaze and then it’s time to serve them to the judges.
These ribs had a beautiful appearance and perfect texture, but the best part was the flavor.
The rub combination and tangy sweet glaze brought out the richness in the Cheshire Pork. I see why Heath is a rib champion!