You know what they say about opinions…but let’s allow the results speak for themselves this time:
Once you take a bite, that’s it. You can’t ignore the tender, mouth watering meat with a flavorful, caramelized crust! How is it done you ask? I’ll share my madness and little bit of the method.
And YES – that picture is one of my recent experiences with cooking BBQ ribs. They didn’t last long. Here’s how we do it:
Which type will you cook?
How much to buy to feed the hordes? Plan on one pound per person. What kind? Totally up to you. But here’s some background to help you make your decision:
- Baby back ribs are cut from the section of the pig near the tenderloin. They are lean and meaty. They are more expensive than spare ribs.
- Spare ribs are cut from the lower belly side of the pig. They will cook more evenly if you cut off the skirt that hangs on the bone side of the ribs. They are also fatty but cost less.
Don’t plan on boiling anything. At all. Seriously. Get that out of your head. If you choose to, realize that you are boiling the taste right out of the meat. Think about it.
OK, after that warning we are ready to move on. You will want to remove the membrane on the bone side of the ribs. Take a knife to cut a slit into the membrane on one end. Get a paper towel and grip the membrane between your fingers and the paper towel. Pull with the goal of stripping the membrane with one tug into one long strip. If it breaks, that’s OK. Not the end of the world. You may need to grab another piece of paper towel and make your best effort to clean up the rest of the membrane. Easy, right?
Is this necessary? Only if you want the best flavor to be your end result. Otherwise, you are allowing fat to build up and burn under the membrane. Also, when you season the membrane – well – you are not seasoning the meat. Besides, it’s chewy. And not in a good way.
A good rub is next. Use your favorite dry rub. I’m not going into which rub is the best (this time) so enjoy the process of exploring different rubs and figure out what makes you (and everyone around you) happy. There is no need to take anything to the ribs to dry them before applying rub! In fact, there is science that backs coating the meat with a thin layer of water. The water serves to dissolve the spices. With generosity in mind, sprinkle both sides of the meat with dry rub.
There is NO need to let the ribs sit overnight or for any length of time, for that matter. Another myth busted.
Time to Cook ‘Em
If you don’t have a digital oven thermometer STOP. You simply cannot cook good BBQ without it. You will never get it right with any type of consistency. You can make any argument you like, but once you get the hang of cooking with a thermometer you will be building a very good reputation due to your consistent results!
That said, get your grill to 225° and stay there. Use a digital thermometer to monitor the temperature. Low and slow is the way to cook ribs. Place the ribs bone side down. Add some wood chips for smoke and you are good to go.
How much time until they are done you ask? Here’s a good rule of thumb:
- Spare ribs: 5 – 6 hours
- Baby back ribs: 3 – 4 hours
The time it truly takes depends on several factors: Keeping the temperature at 225°, the thickness of the cut of ribs and whether or not you can keep yourself from ‘checking’ the ribs every hour or so. Learn to trust the process as you get more familiar with all of your tools and – maybe even more of a crucial factor – increasing your knowledge!
So How Do I Know When They Are Done…?
I am a fan of what is known as the bounce test. You simply pick up a slab with tongs and give a gentle bounce. When they are done, the ribs meat will crack and almost break apart right there on the spot. This is not the only effective method. But it’s simple and hasn’t failed me yet. I encourage you to take your time and investigate other methods. To get you started, here’s a few other tests:
- Toothpick test
- Peek a boo test
- Twist test
Sauces? Totally up to your taste. Sometimes we go for it. At other times, the ribs are best enjoyed as is.
Please feel free to comment below if you enjoyed this article or have questions. Share tips that have worked for you as well! Most of all…enjoy your outdoor living!