Rib road to awesomeness
There are many versions on how ribs should be cooked.
Low and slow or hot and fast? Sauce or no sauce? Membrane on or membrane off?
Possibilities are endless. There is no 1 right way to BBQ, but there are some great tips you can learn.
So, here's how to make your rib experience extraordinarily awesome every time.
Choose your ribs carefully. There are many cuts of ribs that can be used for barbecue. I'll always prefer what is referred to as a St. Louis cut of ribs over a baby back or a full slab. St. Louis cut ribs are very consistent in size.
They have lots of internal marbling (evenly distributed fat around lean meat) traditionally across 10 bones. They are a smaller rectangular slab of ribs cut from an entire slab of pork ribs.
I always try to buy the heaviest ribs I can find. Look for a consistent thickness throughout entire rack of ribs.
Avoid racks that have bones breaking through the meat, often called shiners. Flip the rack over if possible and check the back-bone area, making sure there is no cracked bones or blood bursts. The fat should be clean and white on the bone side.
2. RUB AND SAUCE
Once you decide on your ribs, rubs are a must. While every person has their preference, a key thing to keep in mind is balance. Your ribs should always be a balance of sweet savory and spice or heat. It works perfectly to make ribs your own flavor profile, but a balance bite is a good bite.
In order to grill ribs to the ultimate level of awesomeness, you need to grill indirect if you're using a grill that is not already set up for that. At home, I use a Traeger wood pellet Grill. It's already set up for consistent indirect grilling.
For gas grills or charcoal grills, you’ll need to set up 1 side of the grill running hot, and the other side completely off. My go to temperature for ribs is 225°F-275°F, always done indirect.
Choosing the right wood for your barbecue is important. A good guide is to remember that the lighter the meat - the lighter the wood. Apple, Cherry, Hickory, Alder, Peach, Pecan, and Maple are all safe choices to pair with pork.
The heartier woods like Mesquite and Oak can still be used, but they can overpower the meat if not used carefully. With all wood selections, you need to ensure that the smoke coming from your grill isn't volumes of grey smoke, but instead thin streams of "blue" or clean smoke.
5. MEAT PREP
One of the most important components of rib prep is to remember to always remove the membrane from the bone side. No excuses it has to be done. If you don’t remove the membrane from the back of the ribs, you're leaving a barrier that will prevent rubs sauces and smoke from mixing into the ribs.
It is very easy to remove the membrane with a couple of small steps.
Take a piece of paper towel, holding the rack of ribs in your hands, go to the center portion of ribs in between 2 bones, grab the membrane with paper towel. Pull upwards towards you. It may take a couple of pieces of paper towel, but remove entire membrane from the back of the ribs.
Meat changes from rack to rack. It might have more marbling, or it might be thinner on one end, and so you have to use another tool, such as an instant read digital thermometer, in order to get your ribs consistent every single time.
A good recipe should always recommend a temperature. You should never measure with time, instead you should always measure with temperature. I use a digital probe thermometer for every rack of ribs I make. That way it's consistent every single time.
EAT & ENJOY!