For carnivores, few foods are more delectable than barbequed ribs. Ribs from the grill, prepared properly, should be fall-off-the-bone tender with just enough “tooth” to keep them from being mushy. Grilling techniques abound, and recipes for the proper rubs and sauces are often passed down from generation to generation.
How does one barbeque the definitive rack of ribs? The answer, as is the case with all recipes and techniques, is subjective. Following are some tips for barbequing pork ribs that should please the most discerning backyard chef.
Purchasing Your Ribs
Begin by purchasing the proper ribs. Look for racks with abundant meat coverage over the bones and a moderate amount of fat. Avoid ribs with extra additives. Baby back ribs and spareribs are two of the most popular cuts. Baby backs are smaller than and not quite as fatty as spareribs, and tend to be more expensive. Spareribs are larger, can become tougher, but many chefs believe spareribs to be tastier than baby backs.
Ribs will have a tough membrane on the concave side of the rack, unless the butcher has removed it prior to your purchase. Remove it by using the tine of a fork and working it between the membrane and a bone. Wiggle it back and forth until the membrane separates from the meat, and grab the corner of the membrane tightly – you might want to use a paper towel or cloth to insure a good grip. Slowly pull the membrane away from the ribs.
Season Your Ribs
It is not absolutely necessary to use a dry spice rub, but the ribs should at the very least be seasoned with salt and pepper. A simple rub consists of equal parts paprika, smoked paprika, freshly ground black pepper, garlic salt; a bit of dry mustard; and three parts light brown sugar. The rub should thoroughly cover the surface of the ribs, and ideally should be applied the day before the actual grilling.
Prepare the grill
Ribs should be grilled over indirect heat. If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal and allow it to burn until the briquettes are covered with a fine grey ash. Separate the coals into two equal piles and bank them on either side of the grill. Place an aluminum drip pan in the center of the coals. Place the cooking grid over the coals and lay the ribs over the drip pan. Cover the grill and avoid the temptation to peek.
Cook Your Ribs
The ribs should be cooked to an internal temperature of 70C, which should take about an hour and 15 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, slather the ribs with a commercial BBQ sauce or your own favorite recipe.
For the ultimate in tenderness, remove the ribs from the grill after about an hour, wrap them in foil with one or two ice cubes, and return them to the grill for the last half hour or so. Unwrap them for the final few minutes of grilling, basting with sauce. Delicious.
Author Byline: Anthony is a chef at Dedes Restaurant in Sydney, Australia and an avid rib lover. Anthony has spent years perfecting his own rib recipe, and is always willing to share some of his top rib tips.