Monday, June 9, 2008

Grilling Perfect Ribs

South Florida's year round climate makes us one of the grilling capitals in the nation. Most of us grill, and why not? The weather is beautiful, the scintillating smell of the grill, and the taste of the food is alluring. Anyone can grill, that's why it's so popular. You don't have to be a chef, a gourmet, or know any French to grill. Slap a few burgers and hot dogs down and bingo, you got a barbecue. Now for those in the know, those who secretly have a cooking apron in the closet, those who secretly watch Emeril, there is only one type of meat to barbecue, the mac-daddy, and grand poobah of all meats - Baby Back Ribs.

This recipe and methodology will make you the king of the grill. There are a few simple concepts and ideas you need to learn before we start.

First of all, always purchase fresh ribs from a meat market or butcher. Do not buy frozen or fresh frozen. If your grandmother never taught you, let me: "Fresh is Best". Secondly, You must remove the membrane or "fell" from the underside of the ribs. I have never bought ribs where this is already removed. This is the reason why people overcook ribs. With this membrane removed, the ribs will never be tough. You can ask the butcher to remove the membrane at the time of purchase, but beware, most will have no idea what you are asking for. Third, never boil your ribs. Yes, you heard me right. NEVER. This urban legend should be left with the remains of the Dodo Bird. Finally, never cut the ribs into pieces until fully done cooking.

Now you have the fresh ribs, removed the membrane and are ready for the next step. Making and applying a dry rub. I don't like marinating my ribs in a liquid marinade. The king of the grill
uses a dry barbecue rub. Here are the ingredients for 2 cups:

1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup Paprika
3 TB parsley
2 TB basil
2 TB oregano
2 TB thyme
2 TB dried onion
1 1/2 TB Lemon pepper
1 TB garlic powder
1 TS allspice
1 TS cinnamon

Whisk it all together and generously apply to the racks of ribs. I let mine sit overnight but even an hour is better than none. Anything left over you can jar and save.

Okay, you have prepped you ribs and are now ready to cook them. The best way to cook ribs is on a grill. If a grill is unavailable, you can cook them in the oven. I learned that trick when I ran out of gas one summer. I use a rib rack and cook them on their side to save room.

The first step is to heat the grill to about 300 degrees with indirect heat. This means you turn on the outside two burners and leave the middle off. On my Kenmore grill this is medium on the two outside burners. In the oven the normal bake cycle will do. If you use direct heat you will overcook the ribs or burn the bottom. While heating the grill you should put a small pan of hot water directly on the grill. This will allow moisture to circulate over the ribs during the slow cooking process and keep them moist. The idea here is slow cooking, but not too slow, and not too fast.

Take the ribs and place them in the rib rack or flat on the grate with indirect heat, and let 'em cook for about 1-1 1/4 hour for a real meaty rack. At this point you are ready to apply the barbecue sauce. I take the ribs out of the rack, and lay them down for the glazing. Apply the sauce of your choice with a paintbrush. I use a thick sauce, the thin watery ones just don't do it. Your almost done. About 20-30 minutes after the sauce is on will do it. Let the ribs rest for about 5 minutes before cutting them to allow the natural juices to flow evenly and be absorbed by the meat.

You are now the King of the Grill. Enjoy.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff, pretty good instructions but I'm just curious about your instructions on leaving a pan of hot water on the grill as it is being heated. I'm assuming that once it hits the 300 degree mark, you remove this pan of water and then add the ribs for indirect cooking. Won't all the moisture be lost in this transfer process? Or do you mean that the pan of water remains on the grill during the cooking part as well?


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