I have long been a fan of duck confit, a dish in which duck (usually the leg and thigh portion) is covered in duck fat, slow roasted, then refrigerated in the fat until ready to re-heat and use in any number of dishes. Ultra-rich and tender due to its braising in the fat for several hours, the end product simply can't be beaten!
So the other day, I decided to take that same concept and apply it to the grill in order to create "smoked ribs confit." In the recipe below, baby back ribs are covered in pork fat then cooked on the smoker or grill for several hours before being chilled in the fat. Once the ribs have firmed up (this is an important step as the ribs will be too tender to remove intact while still hot), they are placed back on the smoker or grill and smoked over high heat until golden brown.
And while they bear no real resemblance to traditional smoked ribs that have been coated in dry rub and sauced, these smoked confit pork ribs are a super luxurious alternative that can be served when you really want to impress your family or guests!
SMOKED PORK RIBS CONFIT
1 rack of baby back ribs (approximately 2.5lbs.), membrane left intact to help ribs stay together during the cooking process
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
22 ounces Epic Berkshire Pork Lard, room temperature
Prepare grill or smoker for in-direct cooking (see how to arrange charcoal for indirect cooking on a grill here). Add 2-3 chunks of your favorite smoking wood to the pre-heated charcoal briquets then adjust the bottom vents to bring the temperature to 350 degrees.
Season ribs with Kosher salt and ground black pepper then set meat side down in a heat resistant baking dish long enough to fit the entire rack. Cover the ribs completely with as much pork fat as needed then set the baking dish on the smoker or in the center of the grill away from direct heat. Cover the smoker or grill and allow the ribs to braise in the fat for 1 hour then cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and continue cooking for another 2 hours.
Remove the baking dish from the smoker or grill and refrigerate until you are ready to re-heat and serve the ribs.
To re-heat the ribs, remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and allow it to sit for one hour before starting the smoker or grill so the pork fat can soften. After an hour, prepare smoker or grill for indirect cooking then add 3-4 chunks of your favorite smoking wood to the pre-heated charcoal briquets. Adjust the bottom vents to bring the temperature to 400 degrees.
Gently remove the ribs from the fat, scrapping any excess off with a spoon. Reserve the remaining pork fat for use in frying or other dishes. Place the rack of ribs bone-side down on the smoker or grill away from direct heat. Cover the smoker or grill and allow the ribs to smoke for 20-30 minutes until heated through and golden brown. Remove the ribs from the smoker or grill and allow them to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.