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How to make great BBQ ribs. Easy tips and tricks for outstanding BBQ!
How to make great BBQ ribs. Easy tips and tricks for great ribs
I love BBQ. I'm talking about real BBQ, which is different from what you do when you grill a steak or throw some burgers on your barbecue.
BBQ, as it means in most of southern and mid western America, means cooking tough pieces of meat over a low smoky heat, for a long time.
It's not hard to make great BBQ, and I hope to help you understand the how's and why's of BBQ, so your next batch of BBQ ribs will be unbeatable.
6 Tips for great BBQ ribs
1 Don't ever boil your ribs! This is a BBQ abomination. The problem with ribs is that they can be a bit tough and ornery. They are full of collagen, and if not cooked properly, they will be incredibly tough and chewy. You want fall off the bone BBQ ribs, and you can achieve this by boiling them, but it's a bad idea. When you boil ribs, what you are effectively doing is making a pork broth. You are stealing a lot of the delicious potential flavors from the ribs, and they will be much blander and more one dimensional when cooked this way.
What you really want to do is sort of roast the meat. BBQ is a low heat method of roasting, and by dry roasting will concentrate the great flavors of the meat.
2 low and slow! The secret to tender BBQ ribs is a long cooking time over a low temperature. If you roast these slowly, the collagen in the meat will transform into luscious gelatin, and the meat will be tender and flavorful. You want to keep the heat between 250 and 300. Lower than 250 and you risk drying the meat, and higher than 300 is getting too hot for tenderizing cooking.
3 Take off the silver skin. The silver skin is a membrane that is attached to the underside of the bones. You can't chew it and marinades, rubs and sauces can't penetrate it. It's got to go. Take a knife and pry a little bit off, then grab it with your fingers and peel the while thing off.
4 Season the ribs the night before you plan on cooking them. Rub whatever spice rub you're using on the meat the night before, to give it enough time to penetrate and flavor the meat.
5 Cook them over indirect smoky heat. You can use any receptacle that will provide heat, and hold smoke. I've built an offset firebox smoker, smoked in my brick oven, and found best results from an old gas fired pizza oven. The heat in the pizza oven is nice and steady, and I just whack a big cast iron fry pan full of fruit tree wood with some charcoal mixed in to provide lots of smoke.
The lesson is that it doesn't really matter what is providing the heat, as long as there is a lot of smoke, the heat is good and even and low; and the meat is not too close to the heat source. You can use a backyard gas BBQ with wood chips to good effect, but it is hard to keep the ribs away from the direct heat of the flames (unless you've got a really BIG BBQ!).
You can get a little bullet smoker at most hardware stores for about 50$, and they will work reasonably well, or use your imagination, and design your own cue pit!
6 Don't sauce until the ribs are done (they're done when you lift up the rack in the middle a bit, and it threatens to split in two). When they are done, heat the grill up to medium and grill the sauced ribs for a few minutes.
Follow these 6 steps and you are well on your way to an outstanding BBQ meal. People can debate for hours between the different merits of rubs, mops, different woods and sauces; so you will have to make your own mind up about all that. Just remember the principles of low and slow and steady indirect smoky heat, and you will be just fine!
Nothing beats the backyard aromas of an afternoon's labor tending BBQ ribs, so get out there and enjoy a great weekend afternoon at the cue!
Build Your Own BBQ!
- How to Build a Brick BBQ Smoker
How to build a large brick BBQ smoker for about $200. An explanation, with photos and diagrams.
Removing the silverskin
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