Sunday, April 10, 2011


Baby back ribs are a joy and there are few people who would say otherwise.  I like my ribs moist with a slight char and not too much sauce.  I like the meat to fall off the bone with little to no prodding (although purists will finger wag).  Generally a bbq, particularly here in Texas,  implies there are a number of things happening simultaneously and many cooks and many different meats cooking on numerous grills.  I have seen many a rib lost in the shuffle, the brisket is always king here and like the quintessential older sister gets all the attention and fan fare (Marsha Marsha Marsha!) which results in the ribs ending up a overcooked/undercooked dry hunk of meat with bones in it.

I like to mess with my ribs as little as possible; they are manna from heaven after all.  Then, I try to leave them to do their “ribby” thing; some foods don’t need you as much as you think.

I remove the membrane from the back of the ribs before you do anything, it’s easy to do, slide a knife under the end rib bone and grab the membrane with your fingers and pull back straight and hard.  Rub the ribs with a heavy course of salt and pepper and rub in your favorite bbq sauce.  Not too much, just enough to make it moist and give it a good rub in.  I live in bbq alley in Texas so the choices of sauce are truly overwhelming!  Pick one you like, not too sweet, and stick with it. 
Two slabs of pork ribs, on sale at HEB for $7/each, that'll work.  Open then and toss 'em in a sink so you can attend to them without the risk of them slipping out of your hand and onto the floor *experience speaking here!  

You see on the back its slippery and shiny, that's the membrane we don't want.  Make a slit along the bone on one end and stick your knife tip under the membrane.  It's thin and very tough.
Ease your knife tip the length of the slit and ease the membrane up so you can get a grip of it.  Tear it back the length of the ribs.  It should come in one piece, if not repeat the process.  It's paper thin and sounds like paper ripping when you pull it back.  When it's ripped off, you can see the exposed meat and fat - THAT is flavor darlings, not that tough membrane.  If you've never been a membrane remover, I think you'll notice a difference in tenderness and ease of cutting and eating the ribs.

Dry the ribs and salt and pepper liberally on both sides then rub on some of your favorite sauce.

Ahhh, look at my darlings all wrapped up and ready for the grill, or the oven, I'm not telling you which way I'm doing them today ;)  

Once salted and peppered (heavily!) wrap each slap in foil, TIGHTLY, and toss it on the cold side of the grill for about 2 hours.  No need to attend to it but if you feel obligated to participate, flip it once or twice.  It’s a low and slow moment here, ribs are cooked slow, eaten slow and that is one of the reasons they make me a happy soul, there's joy in slow.

You can spend your time cooking burgers, making slaw, having a beer, sitting on the porch with a book or chatting with good friends.  There's loads of things to do while this is happening.  

After 2 hours, carefully unwrap the ribs, coat them with your favorite Sticky Bbq sauce and lay them on the grill to char around the edges. 

Today, I cheated and did them in the oven because I wasn't sure about my propane levels and had no charcoal.  I broiled them for a few minutes to get the bark.  No, there's none left. 

Straight out of the oven, after 2 hours at 275, they are a bit pale.  I leave them in the foil and rip off the top, helps with cleanup, trust me.  I leave them to sit for a few minutes to firm up a bit and then spread a little bbq sauce on them.  

Five minutes under the broiler and they're starting to look good.  I brush them again and broil for a few minutes.  I do this twice.

Oh baby, that's what I'm talking about!  I sliced them into double rib hunks, serve them up to your waiting audience and then wish you had made more.  

Tonight I made them with grilled corn, also a cheat.  Bake the corn, in the husk, on a sheet pan in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes.  You can remove the silk AFTER it's roasted and it slides right out.  I serve it still in the husks and it keeps it warm, although like the ribs, there's none left.

I'm going to blow my horn a bit and say I pretty much am the finger licking rock star at dinner tonight! 

I'd wax poetic for longer but, um, I have fingers to lick ;) 


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