We shall begin this new thread with a recipe that has been posted elsewhere on the boards. More will follow in short order. Please contribute early and often.
Let’s start with barbecued pork ribs:
Buy the meatiest ribs you can find. They should have a fair degree of streaking to them (i.e., fat). Avoid frozen ribs as they can be very dry from the freezing and thawing processes. If you really want to throw your money away, buy “baby back” ribs. The concept of boiling or roasting the ribs is for crude beginners and will not be discussed further. I still shiver to think of my beginner days when I would cut up the slabs and simmer them off in Chris and Pitts’ tomato based garbage sauce before grilling them over an open kettle.
Per The Rendezvous, I soak my ribs overnight in a bucket of 50 / 50 apple cider vinegar and water. If spoilage is a concern, toss in a sack of ice. Be sure to stir the tub every so often, as the vinegar will settle and chemically cook the ribs on the bottom. Better yet, every few hours, turn the ribs in the tub moving the top ones to the bottom. Be sure to save the marinating mixture for mopping and humidifying the ribs.
In the morning, get the ribs out of the tub and dry them off completely. Be sure to get under the flap meat too. I usually lay out the ribs on a slit open (unused) garbage bag. Get out your dry rub (dry rub pointers to follow) and sprinkle it all over the ribs. Cover with plastic if you are concerned about hygiene and bee bugs. About this time place a generous handful of hardwood chips in a bowl of water and weigh them down with another plate or bowl to keep them submerged. Hickory and apple wood are my favorites.
Get outside and light off your charcoal. Be sure to pile all of your charcoal to one side of your kettle. Avoid using lighter fluid. I just shave up some wood and start it all with some newspaper. Electric charcoal lighters work fine too. If you are in a hurry, use a hair dryer to fan the coals. Yeah, you look a little silly styling your kettle, but you’ll have coals in less than a half an hour. Put the grill over the coals to burn off the encrustation from the last time. A wire brush can also help with this.
Before starting the ribs, put a clean tin can full of the marinating mixture on the grill over the coals. This will provide a moist environment for your barbecue. If you have a small kettle or a large quantity of ribs you may want to have some more coals ashing up in another grill to be added to the main one during the cooking process. If you are using a propane grill start both sides on high to warm up the entire grill. Before placing the ribs on the grill, turn off one side and place the ribs over the unlit section. The placement of the coals to one side and having one side of your propane grill unlit both accomplish the same thing. You want INDIRECT heat to cook over. If you want charred and crusty inedible crap on your table, go ahead and cook directly over the coals.
If needed, oil the grill ahead of time. Place the ribs bone side down on the grill. ALWAYS cook your ribs bone side down for the entire duration of the cooking period. Only if you are in a dreadful hurry should you ever flip your ribs to the meat side. I usually just stack about three or four slabs on top of each other. Be careful not to scrape off a lot of the dry rub when placing the ribs on the grill. If needed, patch up any bare spots with a sprinkle or two of dry rub. At this time add a small amount of the soaked hardwood chips to the coals. Check to make sure the tin can of marinade is topped off and place the cover on your kettle. Choke off the kettle’s airflow to a bare minimum to keep the coals burning and watch / listen carefully for any flare ups. If flare ups occur, use a spray bottle to douse them.
Every so often, check the ribs and rotate the bottom slab to the top. If you have a fancy propane rig with the middle and top racks, use them for excellent results. Again, be careful not to bust off too much of the dry rub crust when rotating the slabs. Once the crust has set well, you may occasionally mop the slabs with some of the marinating liquid. Always check the tin can and top it off whenever it needs it. Use tongs to avoid piercing the meat and drying it out. Remember to add some of the hardwood chips periodically in between beers. Remember to heat your barbecue sauce somewhere around this time.
The ribs are done when the meat pulls back from the ends of the bones by about 1/4"-1/2". There should be a nice glaze on them and they should be moist and tender. Cut off one of the tiny end ribs to check. The end rib should be thoroughly cooked so that the larger ones will then be at the perfect state of doneness. It is at this point that the fist fights can begin. All of you pantywaists can feel free to apply some sauce during the last stage of the cooking. Any sufficiently prepared rib will not benefit from this. You will merely mask your splendid dry rub and stop your guests from appreciating the magnificence of a dry rubbed rib. Nuff said.
Prevent your guests from charging at you by using pepper spray or a Taser as you bring the slabs to the table. Singulate the ribs and dispense them with the righteous and regal air that you deserve. Try to remember to have some sauce on them, but be sure that your guests try a rib or two without any sauce so that they understand the culinary magic that has been woven in front of them. Take a bow and keep your recipe well hidden from prying eyes.
If this does not make for the finest ribs you’ve ever had. I will personally refund every penny you paid for these pointers.
PS: Some people remove the underside membrane from the rack of ribs. This is not my own practice, but it might yield an even more tender and smokey product. I may even try it sometime.
Some dry rub pointers:
A. You will have to pry my recipe out of my cold dead hands.
B. Use more sugar than salt.
C. Use both brown and white (cane) sugar.
D. Careful with the powdered Cumin, it takes over in a hurry.
E. Use a little cornstarch to help bind the rub to the meat.
F. Keep the heat down, you can always add it later.