Local Folks Foods

Excellent Kosher Food

June 2, 2010

BBQ Baby Back Ribs: My Way (at least the basics)!!!!

BBQ Baby Back Ribs are a personal favorite of mine. I would do these year-round if time permitted me to do so. Over the years, I have learned so much about BBQ (not just grilling alone). So many different ways to cook them so I decided to post how I like to do them.

First is the plainly obvious- the ribs themselves. Aside from baby back ribs, there are spare ribs and country style ribs as well. There are also beef ribs but my taste lean towards pork. I guess that's more a regional thing as I am from the Midwest and pork ribs seem to be the most popular. I have also enjoyed venison and buffalo ribs but they tend to be more expensive (and more difficult) to buy. Lamb ribs work well too, especially if you like garlic. So below are the ribs- clean & rubbed dry.

Now here's where the fun starts. My desire is not to sound like I'm being negative but I will address two of many no-no's as it relates to BBQ ribs. First, DO NOT BOIL THEM AND PUT THEM ON THE GRILL!! If you want back back rib stock or you're making a German dish (German-style boiled ribs), go ahead and boil to your hearts desire. You lose all the flavor by doing boiling.

The second no-no will be addressed in the two pictures below. Remove the membrane from the ribs. The membrane is the film you see on the back of the ribs. To remove it is not that difficult at all. You take a utility knife and cut between the meat (ribs) and the membrane (as seen on the left below). My suggestion is to start at one end and get the membrane loose enough where it will pull right off. Do this before you do any marinating or seasoning. Removing the membrane will help the meats be flavored (with marinade or seasoning) and will help it cook properly. Unlike the casing with a sausage, it does not provide a compliment the rib's taste or flavor (let alone edibility). On the right (below), you will see one slab with the membrane removed (lower rib in the picture which is more white-colored) and the one without (top of the picture).

At this stage of the game, here's where it can get messy. I did these with a dry rub (without marinade). There's some debate which way is better but I like marinade-style ribs as well. First I used kosher salt on the ribs before adding my rub. The rub's seasoning featured the even amounts of the following spices- cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika (I prefer Hungarian hot but use whatever you like). I also added a dash of dried mustard and a couple other seasoning I don't wish to disclose (at least right now). In other words, this rub is favors the Memphis style (no sugar) meets Carolina (where my own touches were partially inspired). Make sure you make enough where the ribs are totally covered on both sides for best flavoring.

The fire is your best friend. If you have a thermometer on your grill, you may be better off as a result (especially when trying to gauge temperature). Now here are some other no-no's that experts seem to understand. The next BBQ no-no- DO NOT USE LIGHTER FLUID!!!! Unless you like the taste of gas or fuel, avoid using lighter fluid. With the various products in the market today, I'm shocked lighter fluid is even an option (as you will see below). You can get a chimney (at your local hardware or gourmet shop for about the same price), which I used here. You can also buy ready start charcoals, where your need for lighter fluid is gone. There are also lighter sticks (similar to a match) where you place them in the chimney along with the charcoals. Then strike the bottom of the sticks (from the holes under the chimney). It may take 10-20 minutes for the coals to become ready for use.

When making ribs, I prefer using indirect heat (placing the coals away from the meat, letting the heat circulate inside the grill. If you use a kettle style grill or a dual chamber grill like I use here, you know I'll give another no-no. Don't cook the meat over the fire but just away from it. Also, just because you don't see fire, doesn't mean the fire isn't hot. The grill I used had a temperature gauge when I can see what temperature I'm cooking at. If not, look for the coals to be more red/ash like color. I took more non-ready start coals and line the grill's bottom left half (as seen below on the lower left side of the picture). Then I took some presoaked wood chips (use the flavor that you like) and placed them on top of the unlit coals. Once my coals were ready, I poured them over the unlit coals and wood. The goal is to keep the temperature in the indirect zone (right side of the picture below) between 225-240 degrees and cook for 3 1/2 hours. I created a "mopping sauce" of my own- 30% cider vinegar, 20% one part wocheshire sauce, 5% olive oil, 5% tomato paste, 5% water, and the remainder Dijon mustard along with about 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper. I will add the mop sauce ever 40-60 minutes. On the side where I cooked the meat, there are no coals and the zones were not divided. While cooking, I used a rack so there is some debate if the ribs should be flipped or not. The last no-no- do not use a fork when you flip the ribs but use tongs. By using a fork, you will pierce holes in the meat and the ribs WILL dry out. I don't add any sauce until the last 20 minutes at the earliest.

I took this video from the "Seriousbbqsdotcom YouTube page. This may help explain (or give a better visual) of the process.

After 3 1/2 hours, the ribs should be done. The meat should just pull away from the bone (not falling off) with some slight resistance (almost like a steak). Then let the meat "rest" (where the meat sits on a pan or plate) for at least 15 minutes. This is how the meat's juices settle inside the ribs and insure they won't dry out.

The result is what you see below.

 Pay dirt!!!!!! I also did a pork shoulder the same day and I will blog about that next.

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