Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

Sub-Zero Pork Ribs and Ecuador

It was seven below the zero mark, iffin it weren’t colder. And I think it was. Nobody was outside anyways, to tell me otherwise, not even the tweety birds. No one save forIMG_5228 me, that is. And it was cold alright. The keen wind cut through the pond-side spruce with all the compassion and loveliness of a pit bull getting his favorite parts snipped off. The snow on the patio squeaked underfoot. And your breath, if you had any, spiraled like exhaust from an old diesel truck, and carried in the breeze a fathom and half over snow encrusted fields. Indeed, the day was cold against your face.  My fellow patron and I were to discuss it, and we surmised that the odds were high, and probably accurate even,  that I likely was the only humanoid within a hundred mile radius, out of warm doors right then, putting meat to flame on the BBQ. Oh how the neighbors must all roll their eyes every time they see my smoke rise, whilst the wind-driven ice crystals tap over their window pane. No matter, we Patrons of the Pit are a curious group by default. Not one for common thinking and none such. Forsaking oven and stove to cook instead over charcoal and wood, outside, and under random skies, we stand stalwart and proud at our pits, with our collars up and trimmed towards the tempest. BBQing in the cold is just what we do. What we have to do. Unless, I suppose you live, say, in Ecuador.

We have a reader amongst us, a long-time subscriber if you will, and an all-around good guy. Formerly of Minnesota, now roosting in the tropical climes of Ecuador. We have watched his blog, John and Mary Living it up in Ecuador, over the years, and admired their strange adventures, and knack for good living. If the winter draws long for you, do yourself a favor and check out their wonderful blog. It will warm you up, both inside and out. But the old boy there has a sense of humor, I must say, one that I often ponder in vain whilst I’m manning the smoker on sub-zero days like these. You see, he likes to chime in, and reminisce of what Minnesota in the winter was like. To nonchalantly act like he is in your corner. To recall fondly snowstorms in April, of  football on the frozen ground, and of course, the cold. And then all too often, he likes to end his comments with some thing like this, and I quote “ I have to admit that I now usher in winter with a nice dip in the pool or the warm Pacific Ocean and a nap on the beach covered in SPF-30” John from Ecuador likes to rub it in that way. And we’re not just talking about his sunscreen. So it’s 7 Below. Lets smoke some ribs! IMG_5197   We did this rack fairly simple. First rubbing it down with a little brown sugar, then hit it with a spicy rub I had sitting about. A little something to usher in the heat, if you can call it that. We placed the rack “bone-side” down on the pit, over a steely bosom crackling with orange glowing coals and two fist-sized chunks of hickory. Because it was so cold, no water was added to the water pan of the WSM. It didn’t need any help keeping them temps low today. Lid on. Damper tweaked. A nice pillar of blue-tinted smoke was soon in curl. And as nice as it was out there, I don’t mind admitting none, I sidled it back inside to my easy chair, and pulled a Grandma blanket up to my chin. Glory be! Feet propped up towards the fireplace, my socks hanging off my toes like Stan Laurel in his prime, oh what sheer pleasure it is to bandy with one’s favorite blanket and fire whilst smoking pork ribs on a frosty winter’s day. And as per most rib smokes this side of perfection, I may or may not have dozed off in turn. IMG_5201 At hour three, we went ahead and foiled the ribs with another patting of brown sugar, a few dollops of butter and a shot or two of honey, just because. It smelled good enough to tear into right here, but like a good pit boy, I resisted. My elder brother says patience comes to those who wait. I think ribs probably aren’t far behind. A good hour or so in the foil, smoker running at roughly 257 degrees higher than the outside ambient temperature = 1 rack of authentically procured BBQ ribs. The real thing, people. Oh buddy! Varnish with your favorite sauce if you please, and ingest accordingly and at your will or whimsy. SPF-30 optional, at least for some of us. Amen. IMG_5204 Four and a Half Hour Hickory Smoked Pork Ribs . Yum! A touch of heat and bunch of sweet. Another way to pass a northern cold snap with a wee bit of class, and patron to the pit. Grill on!

39 responses

  1. Great…now I am hungry 🙂

    February 24, 2015 at 11:13 am

  2. SEE, when it’s cold here, I can’t get my gas grill lit. Today it’s dropping’ like a rock and I’m sure that we’ll get snow. That’s too bad, I had planned on grilled `burgers…

    February 24, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    • Haven’t we convinced you yet to get a charcoal grill. Come on Auntiedoni!!

      Stay warm, and aloha!

      February 24, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      • NOPE, been there, done that. I’m WAY too impatient for coals any more, not to mention that I don’t do the low&slow anymore either. I only have my gas grill lit for maybe 10-15 minutes (after the heat up that is). Hot sear and on the plate.

        February 25, 2015 at 2:23 pm

  3. Liberty of Thinking

    Oh my ribs…
    Proper job mates, don’t let the elements spoil the excellence!
    Nearly rhyming…;-)

    February 24, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    • That was darn close to rhyming! I’ll take it. Many thinks sir!

      February 24, 2015 at 2:26 pm

  4. Thanks for the ping-back and the kind words. We are often surprised by your posts, but we were totally surprised today to see the reference to Ecuador!

    You will get a kick out of this: Our neighbors here in San Clemente, Ecuador put on hoodie sweatshirts and huddle together when it gets, “muy frio” here. Well, “very cold” is all a matter of reference. It never gets below 65 degrees F here, but the wind sometimes makes it feel almost 60! I was trying to tell a friend who has lived here his entire life that it was ten below zero in Ohio the other day. He could not believe it and asked me if it was cold enough to make ice. I tried to tell him that ten below F was more than twenty degrees below 0, Celsius and is much colder than even freezers get. He simply could not believe that was possible and really thought that I was pulling his leg.

    I will refer him to your blog for proof positive that people actually do live where it gets that cold. The ribs looked great and we are glad to hear that you are still grilling!

    February 24, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    • Oh that’s pretty funny. 60 degrees. Golly, a single tear rolls down my cheek! Well it would iffin it hadn’t froze stiff there first! Glad you enjoyed the ping. We do rather favor your spice of character when ever you chime in. And yes, sometimes I think maybe you’re on to something down there in Ecuador, when my eyelids are fusing shut up here. But then it’s all relative.

      It’s 20 degrees here today and it felt like it was time to go swimming. It’s crazy what a person can get used to.

      Take care John and Mary in Ecuador!

      February 24, 2015 at 5:15 pm

  5. Reblogged this on Living It Up in Ecuador and commented:
    Our friends at Patrons of the Pit in Minnesota surprised us today with references to our blog. We always recommend them for a good read and great grilling/smoking tips. Enjoy!

    February 24, 2015 at 4:29 pm

  6. The intrepid grill master. A little below zero weather won’t stop you. The ribs look perfect and a great reward for braving the freezing temps.

    February 24, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    • Well the smoker did most of the work, whilst I curled up inside. But yeah, intrepid… I like the sound of that! Thanks !

      February 24, 2015 at 6:54 pm

  7. Oh, do these look good, and I commend you. If only I had a friend or two like you because I would never do this myself! 🙂 I will pass this on to my son in law who lives in GA and smokes year round, though.

    February 24, 2015 at 10:19 pm

  8. Falling off the bone tender! Ribs look very tasty. I too BBQ in the winter the food tastes just as good as the summer.

    February 25, 2015 at 7:09 am

    • Good point! Indeed the food doesn’t show any favoritism towards winter or summer. It just likes being eaten! And it was good too. Thanks Chef!

      February 25, 2015 at 9:50 am

  9. I too, would rather fire up the pit in the winter than summer. But minus seven degrees? I’d be tempted to throw the ribs in the microwave and chew ’em like a dog. 🙂

    February 25, 2015 at 8:35 am

    • Oh TJ, what for are we to do with your southern blood, thinned of antifreeze all these many years. I have heard Floridians scamper indoors if they see their own breath! Even so, winter in the south is one of the great things, I’m sure, to a pit keeper. You could get spoiled down there. But then maybe not if you would consider microwaving your ribs…That is rib blasphemy!

      February 25, 2015 at 9:58 am

  10. You sure know how to eat…. yummm. This blog is becoming and addiction. 🙂

    February 25, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    • Thanks! Yeah I suppose to be here are worse addictions out there. Take care!

      February 25, 2015 at 1:47 pm

  11. Fantastic. I should do some winter grilling. You paint a lovely picture as well as a mean glaze.

    February 25, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    • Well thank you kindly, Conor. Appreciate that. Yes it’s a privilege to grill any time of year. It’s hard to shake the bug once its in you I guess. And I suppose that’s because it tastes so darn good!

      Take care, mate!

      February 25, 2015 at 1:46 pm

  12. First off, those ribs look outstanding PotP. Secondly, the next time John comes home to visit, I would call DHS and perhaps get his passport revoked so he has to suffer with you. I seriously thought of entering the Fire on Ice comp in your neighborhood. A friend of mine from the Twin Cities reasoned with me. Finally, only six weeks till our first competition of the year. It better start warming up a bit. -11 this upcoming Friday.

    February 25, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    • Thanks Bill. I never heard of the fire on ice competition. I googled it and instantly fell in love! What a fun time that must be. Ice fishing and bbqing at the same time. Too cool. I would wish never to leave. I may have to go check this out.

      Good luck on the new season!

      Take care man.

      February 25, 2015 at 5:46 pm

      • If you want to try it out next year, I would be in for sure!

        February 25, 2015 at 8:20 pm

      • Well, I’m no where in your league and not much of a competitor type, but I would gladly visit your pit with a hot chocolate in hand, and let you tell me stories whilst you plied your craft. I would prove a worthy taste tester for you too!

        February 25, 2015 at 9:44 pm

  13. You are an inspiration. I choose to grill only in the warmer half of the year so as to enjoy the first ribs of spring all the more. Can’t wait.

    February 25, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    • Well thank you sir. You are perhaps a wise man that way! May your spring smell of perfectly executed pork!

      February 25, 2015 at 9:35 pm

  14. laurie27wsmith

    As usual a great recipe and method for cooking, plus the oratory is excellent. Now tell us, do you wear an arctic sleeping bag while you cook on the grill? Have you noticed I don’t rub it in as to how hot it is here? Even winter where we live is magnificent. It can get down to -6celsius at night and hover around 21-23 Celsius through the day. Absobloodylutelymagnificent I say.

    February 27, 2015 at 3:15 am

    • I have noticed that. Thanks for taking it easy on us, Laurie. Australian weather over all, I bet is pretty pleasant. But then, there is something lovely about almost every corner of the earth, I’ve always thought.

      No sleeping bag. Just a heavy wool jacket most times. I have gone winter camping a time or two in my day, where I use an arctic bag. My coldest night afield was 37 below zero. Translates, google says, to -38.333 degrees Celsius. That was cold Laurie. Butt cold! All the world was not right in my sleeping bag…

      February 27, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      • laurie27wsmith

        Yeah, I don’t want to rub it in, you blokes have it hard enough with all that snow. That’s one cold ass camping trip. It’s amazing what extremes of temperature we can endure. I’ve read a lot on the Russian front in WW2 and it amazed me as to how people could actually function, let alone fight. I love winter time, (ours) but I spent xmas 2003 in Edmonton, Alberta. I loved it so much. However when I returned to Oz I realised that’s where I wanted to be. Oh, I had Buffalo meat burgers whilst in Canada, Yum.

        February 28, 2015 at 4:50 pm

  15. It’s always great to see a post from another member of the COALabear bear club. Remember “Love knows no season, love knows no clime…..” Grill on brother, soon the tweety birds will be back and the sun once again warm on your face.

    February 27, 2015 at 6:13 am

    • We could have been, mail men, Mr Dodd!

      Take care, man, and thank you!

      February 27, 2015 at 3:53 pm

  16. Matt

    HA! I love the fact you were out there in sub zero temp’s! These Ribs look better than anything i’ve ever tried!

    February 27, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    • Thanks Matt. Nothing special, just doing what any hungry pit jockey would do!

      February 27, 2015 at 10:03 pm

  17. Well done … again my smokie Brutha … grill on !! 🙂

    February 28, 2015 at 7:10 pm

  18. Liz

    oh yum, absolutely classy! Can’t beat ribs. Ribs are what keeps me from going vegetarian, more so than bacon. Can live without burgers but not ribs. These look spectacular.

    March 1, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    • Haha, well said Liz. Indeed, a good rack of ribs will snuff out notions of vegetarianism will a single bite. Ribs are the best! Thanks Liz!

      March 2, 2015 at 9:59 am

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