Sweet & Smokey Baby Back Ribs with Fennel Slaw


I vividly remember the first time I tried proper, cooked to perfection, southern smoked ribs, just after moving to Nashville, TN. It was legit love at first sight. Sweet, spicy, juicy, handheld perfection.

These Sweet & Spicy Traeger smoked ribs are chock-full of nostalgia and deliciousness. Smoky, sweet, and overflowing with southern-cooked happiness. Paired with a crunchy fennel slaw, it’s a serious knock-out meal that your friends and family are guaranteed to love.

Sweet & Smokey Baby Back Ribs with Fennel Slaw 

For the ribs

2 racks baby back pork ribs

4 – 6 cups apple juice

2 tablespoons Traeger Big Game Rub

2 cups Traeger BBQ Sauce

¼ cup maple syrup

For the Fennel Slaw 

1 medium fennel bulb, fonds reserved

¼ cup sliced green onions

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno

2 tablespoons mayo

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

Juice of ½ a lemon

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

1. First, remove the silverskin membrane from the bone-side of the ribs (your butcher will do this if you’d like – they’re awesome folks). 

2. Place the ribs in a high-sided baking dish and cover with apple juice, ensuring that the ribs are completely submerged. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours (overnight is best).

3. Remove the ribs from the marinade (reserving the juice), and sprinkle both sides of each rack with the Big Game rub. Perfect.  

4. When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (about 4 to 5 minutes). Set the temp to 225 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, 10 – 15 minutes.

5. Transfer the apple juice to a small saucepan and place in the corner of the grill. The juice will cook away and keep the grill environment deliciously moist & fragrant.

6. In a small bowl, combine bbq sauce and maple syrup and set aside. 

7. Arrange the ribs on the grill grate, bone-side down, and cook for 4 – 4 1/2 hours, until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 202 degrees F. If not quite there, place back on the grill for 30 minutes. When there is about 1 hour of cook time remaining, generously baste the ribs with the prepared bbq sauce.

8. Slaw time! While the ribs are finishing up, combine all the fennel slaw ingredients in a large bowl and toss. Done. Set aside.

9. Rest the ribs for several minutes before carving and deep-diving into a sea of home-smoked happiness. SO GOOD!!!!

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