Smoked Rib Tips, rubbed with a made from scratch barbecue spice and smoked until tender, lovingly swathed in a deep and complex bbq sauce full of molasses.
Smoked Rib Tips with Sweet Baby Molasses Sauce
By Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime
Smoked Rib Tips is my recipe of the day for Eat the World. We are sharing our favorite soul food recipes today to honor the Black Lives Matter movement and offer our support.
Now I am not black, nor are my recipes as they are my own. I don’t want anyone to think I am co-opting them as part of their movement.
For myself, I was born in a very black community (East St. Louis IL) which is about 80% black at last count and currently live in Cincinnati which has a fairly good sized community so feel the larger portion of my life has been around that type of food. From my neighbors to restaurants offering up some of the best, I have grown up loving soul food.
And in my life, soul food is never far from my kitchen.
My grandmother cooked up chitlins and greens with frequency (although she passed on before I was born and my mother didn’t like cooking offal) so I didn’t get the benefit of recipes handed down…from anywhere.
However, I have prepped my own chitlins and cooked those. I have made other foods uniquely soul (and peculiar to my area, like the BBQ snoot in St. Louis). And you can’t get those everywhere, but Jungle Jim’s had them locally, so I bought and also grilled some of those up.
I have made lots of other things too. Chitlins aren’t my favorite simply because they made the house smell and the snoot didn’t capture my heart the way rib tips already own it.
Here in Cincinnati there are a number of restaurants that have soul food, and rib tips are quite popular.
What are Rib Tips?
First you need to know a little bit about ribs. There are baby back ribs, back ribs (beef) and then the spare ribs. Spare ribs in their whole form have two sections: the rib part can be cut off and when it is, those are called St. Louis cut ribs. They are a little bigger than Baby Backs.
The flap that was cut off are the rib tips. Rather than the usual ribs bones, they have white cartilage inside. Although sometimes if you buy them cut a butcher might throw in some of the smallest ribs off the end of the slab, depending.
If you buy the rib tips, they will come already cut or your butcher might ask you if you want him to cut those. I suggest leaving the tips whole if you can. Your chef knife will cut right through when they are done without having any of the edges overcooked.
What Aren’t Rib Tips?
Now that you know what rib tips are, let me tell you what they are not. They are not, in fact, small ribs cut directly in half. Although I have seen this being passed off as tips.
And those things that Applebee’s used to sell as riblets, those aren’t rib tips either. Those are called button ribs and come from an area off the ribs section. The bones are flat, and sort of remind me of artichoke leaves in bone form.
Try to avoid either of these kind of “riblets” if you can.
Exploring Rib Tips
Rib tips will have the cartilage, and it is the kind of food where in between, the meat is so very tender. And you will be exploring with your fingers to get every last nibble. So don’t be afraid to get in there. Sort of the same way you have to dig in there to find all the good stuff on things like oxtails, trotters, neck bones or ham hocks.
Reminds me of Mom’s fried chicken. When I was little the family would pass off the fried chicken necks I guess because I was the youngest and that’s the way the ball bounces. But I won’t complain. It taught me how to deftly get that meat out and enjoy the most tender parts. I can do it with surgical precision *laughs*. But I digress.
Pork Likes a Rib Rub
I’ve stirred up a bbq rub for you as well, which is pretty decent. How much you use might depend if the tips were already cut up or how much you apply. It’s easy to keep the extra in a canning jar. Besides rib tips, it works on ribs, chicken parts, chicken wings, beef ribs, brisket, pork steaks, whatever.
Sweet Baby Molasses Sauce
I make all my sauces from scratch, and not just doctored ketchup. Although I have used ketchup on occasion, mostly my sauces start from tomato sauce. I could start from fresh tomatoes too, but likely make some sauce from fresh tomatoes because who in their right mind will go to those ends every time? If you do want to use ketchup, go ahead, and you can fiddle with the rest.
I make all kinds of sauces- depending how my mood is. When I lived in St. Louis my Dad used to doctor up Maull’s sauce. The area type was a zippy slightly vinegared one not too different from Open Pit. Although in that area, Memphis and KC sauces are popular too.
Different from Texas and Carolina sauces.
I move in between them sometimes depending on the kind of meat or sometimes what I have. This sauce I wanted to be molasses heavy. Just my mood that day. I also used beer, which I do a lot with pork and chicken. The other ingredients fell into place as the sauce matured. And by that I mean that a sauce changes flavor as it simmers. What it tastes like when it first heats can be a lot different from what it is when it is done.
It’s very good. I have contemplated calling it one of my signature sauces. I guess we will see.
Rib Tips on the Smoker
These rib tips were done on my pellet smoker. I used hickory pellets. As well, you could do this on a hardwood smoker or even on an offset grill using charcoal or gas with smoker packs loaded with wood chips (soaked wood chips inside foil packets with a couple of holes).
The rib tips smoke for hours held at about 200F (180F-225F) , until the inside temp reaches 190F inside. The outside of the meat achieves a deep mahogany bark, but it is not burnt. Look closely at the cracks and edges and you will see that it is just a lovely smoked bark which adds tons of flavor.
The results are smoky and juicy rib tips ready to be coated in some delicious sauce, or just eaten as is.
Soul Food Recipes
Check out all the wonderful Soul Food dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!
Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Food to Soothe the Soul
Making Miracles: Sylvia’s Sweet and Sticky Baked Chicken Wings
Amy’s Cooking Adventures: Oven-Baked Ribs with Cola BBQ Sauce
Kitchen Frau: Smothered Pork Chops
A Day in the Life on the Farm: Red Beans and Rice
Palatable Pastime: Smoked Rib Tips with Sweet Baby Molasses Sauce (You are Here!)
Sneha’s Recipe: Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Burritos
CulturEatz: Savannah Red Rice
Smoked Rib Tips
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Smoked Rib Tips
Smoked Rib Tips with Sweet Baby Molasses Sauce
- Equipment: smoker or offset grill; hickory wood chunks or pellets
BBQ Spice Rub: (Yield 3 cups)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons salt
- 4 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons black pepper
- 2 tablespoons ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
Sweet Baby Molasses Sauce:
- 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup lager beer
- 3/4 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup Louisiana hot sauce
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon Cajun spice Slap Ya Mama
- 1 tablespoon butter cuts down foaming
- 3.5 pounds pork rib tips
- 1.5 cups bbq rub see recipe above
- Stir together rub in a bowl and rub on rib tips, either individual pieces or the sections.
- Let rib tips come to room temperature.
- Prepare smoker with hickory wood chunks or pellets.
- Add rib tips to the smoker and smoke at a consistent range of 180F-220F for about 6-7 hours or until ribs probe to 190F on the inside.
- Remove rib tips from smoker; rest about 15 minutes and serve with sauce if desired.
- While ribs tips are smoking, prep the sauce.
- Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a saucepan and simmer until sauce reduces to about 2-3/4 cups, about 30-45 minutes depending on heat level.
- Whisk frequently while cooking.
I love smoked, well just about anything, and those look amazing. I love the deep crust on the outside of the meat.
These sound absolutely wonderful Sue. My Pops would love these, he loved anything with meat stuck inside, the chicken necks were always his alone.
Thanks for this, Sue. I was curious about rib tips when I saw your title originally. These look delicious!
Thank you for the information on the different kinds of ribs – very helpful. Your rib tips look absolutely delicious, such an amazing smoky outside. The flavour must be fantastic!