The Incredible Edible Rib

With Ribfest behind us, and everyone left jonesing for smoked ribs, how does one make ribs like a pro? It is much easier than you think to slow smoke your way into rib nirvana, and to prove it I am going to share with you some of the things I do when sm0king ribs.

It seems that every culture and geological demographic has their own idea of what makes for good ribs. Personally, I haven’t found too many styles of ribs I haven’t liked, but I have certainly made and eaten some ribs that left little to be desired.

Time and moisture are the two most important variables when making good ribs. Ribs have a lot of connective tissue and that tissue takes time to break down. The long cooking time required to break down ribs’ connective tissue can easily dry them out. A great way to introduce and retain moisture in your ribs is to brine them. A brine is a mixture of a water type liquid, salt and sugar. Whether you decide to brine, rub or marinade it is important to take time and plan ahead. Ribs are not a quick fix meal that can be executed when you get home from work.

Seasoning is all personal preference. I like a sweet and spicy dry rub, but plain old salt and pepper are pretty good too. Marinades work well with Asian style ribs (possibly some pineapple juice, soy, etc.). The reason I like to use a dry rub is that it’s easy, and when put on early it not only allows the flavor to set, but it also helps retain moisture.

Cooking methods are many when it comes to ribs. For me there is only one way though, and that is low, slow and smoky. Many people boil their ribs, wrap them in foil or use a slow cooker, but they are all wrong! There is no need to over think ribs. They have plenty of natural moisture and as long as you take your time and cook them at a low consistent temperature (200-300°) they will turn out great.

Finishing off your ribs is also a personal preference. I don’t put any sauce on until the very end, and sometimes I don’t put any at all. Basting your ribs with sauce while they cook causes the sugars in the sauce to burn and taste nasty. If you must sauce I like a sauce that complements the rub, sweet and spicy, and definitely not too thick.

Smoking ribs is not as hard as many  people make it. By taking your time and being patient it is easy to get juicy, smoky, pull off the bone ribs. I say pull off the bone because great ribs should neither stick to, nor fall off the bone.

Brine:

  • 1 Gallon of Water
  • 2 Cups of Salt
  • 3 Cups of Apple Juice
  • 1 Cup of Bourbon
  • 1 Tablespoon of Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Cup of Brown Sugar

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