Recipe: Strickland Restaurant 3-2-1 Ribs | Receipts

Strickland’s is a classic Athens family restaurant that has been serving Southern specialties for over 60 years. Brett Strickland, co-owner of the Atlanta Highway restaurant, shares a great barbecue option for tailgating.


back ribs

½ cup yellow mustard

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

8 tablespoons of butter

honey (just to drizzle)

your favorite barbecue sauce

For the friction

¼ cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons of black pepper

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper


First, light your smoker. The ideal temperature range is 200 to 225 F. Post Oak is a good option, but it’s hard to get. You can also make hickory. You don’t want thick white smoke, but rather, for best results, you want thin blue smoke.

Take the ribs and remove the membrane. Brush with yellow mustard.

Place your dry marinade on the ribs and let adhere for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Throw the ribs onto the smoker unwrapped. You want the side you removed the membrane from facing down. Cover the smoker and leave it on for 2 hours. After 2 hours, spray the ribs with apple cider vinegar. For this, you can use a salon misting bottle. Cover your smoker and continue smoking for another hour.

After 3 hours on the smoker, remove the ribs from the grill. Tear the foil into long strips (enough to hold the entire rib). Take six knobs of butter and stick them to the bottom of the foil. Cover it with generous pinches of brown sugar. Add a drizzle of honey and place the rib on the butter/brown sugar/honey mixture. Repeat the process on top of the rib. Wrap tightly with the foil and make sure it doesn’t tear or leak. Return the ribs to the smoker for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, remove the ribs. Carefully unwrap the ribs. There will be plenty of liquid. Take this liquid and pour it into a grease separator, take the good stuff out of the separator and mix it with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Make a “boat” out of the foil you wrapped your ribs in. Generously brush your ribs and return them to the smoker. Smoke for 30 minutes and baste your ribs again. Throw a few extra pieces of wood into your smoke box. This will raise the temperature and thicken your sauce. Smoke for another 30 minutes.

Remove ribs from smoker, let stand 10 minutes and enjoy.

This recipe was originally published in the 2022 Red and Black Tailgate Guide.

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Rozella J. Cook