Sometimes I surprise myself.
Today’s Memorial Day BBQ effort was one of those events that you can't plan in advance—it just happens. We cooked ribs on the grill by the neighborhood pool.
In addition to charcoal and hickory chips, we also used up a bunch of ice, rum, and tequila in the blender poolside and entertained some innocent bystanders as our neighbors wandered into the proceedings. Can you say “drive-by BBQ?”
I barely got to eat any of the ribs myself. Oh well...
By cooking ribs, I don’t mean that I stripped the plastic wrap off the ribs and tossed them on the grill—no sir, I gave my baby back pork ribs a day at the health spa. If I were a rib, I would have been quite happy doing what my ribs did today.
Here’s what I did with (to) my ribs…
First there was a nice BRINE BATH:
1-1/2 gallon of water (enough for three or four racks of ribs)
½ cup of kosher salt
½ cup of sugar
2/3 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
(Increase the proportions of the ingredients if you need more water)
Put the brine together in a large covered boiler (mine was a three gallon pot.) Open your rib packaging and rinse the ribs off under cold water in the sink. Place the ribs on a cutting board and carefully strip off the “skin” membrane on the back side (the concave side.) Also cut away any extra chunks of fat and membrane that you don’t want to eat. By now your ribs should look very pretty.
Place your ribs in the brine, put the pot in the refrigerator, and let them swim around overnight, or for at least six hours (mine went about eight hours.)
When you are ready to cook your ribs, pull them out of the brine and place them in a pan or on a cookie sheet to drain for a few minutes. Pat them dry with a clean dish rag.
Next my ribs had a nice RUBDOWN:
1/8 cup black pepper
1/8 cup paprika
1-1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Mix up the rub in a mixing bowl, then store it in a small jar or plastic container until you are ready to use it. Sprinkle the rub over the ribs and rub it in with your fingers.
Then my Ribs went into a HOT SAUNA:
Now Your ribs need to go on the grill to cook. Don't use a gas grill (OK, if you must, you must), but don't just pile a bunch of charcoal brickettes up and light them using "Gulflight" lighter fluid...that stuff stinks. I use an electric grill starter and for these ribs you want to use indirect heat. After the coals are hot, push the charcoal over to the sides of the grill and cook the ribs over a pan of water in the center. I stood my rib racks up on their sides vertically, leaning against each other for support.
Now here is the important part--regulate your grill temperature to somewhere between 200 deg F and 250 deg F. Use those vents and dampers on the grill, don't just stand there and complain, burning off your eyebrows and the hair on your knuckles. (Sorry, I guess that ladies don't have hair on their knuckles?)
If you will keep the temperature under control, you can expect to spend between 2-1/2 and 3 hours fooling around at the pool or otherwise waiting while the ribs get nice and tender. Pour yourself a drink and relax...this is supposed to be vacation, not work, you know?
For my ribs "suntan lotion," I made some Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce:
½ cup light (or dark) brown sugar
1 tbsp dry mustard powder
1 tbsp dried ginger
½ tbsp chili powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp allspice
3 cups catsup
¼ cup black strap molasses
¼ cup water
½ cup white vinegar
I took the rib racks off the grill at about the 2-1/2 hour point and brushed them all over with a thick coating of the BBQ sauce, then put them back on the grill for the final half hour of cooking.
By the time my ribs had finished, I had collected a couple of kids and five other adults that had designs on sampling the results of my efforts.
We broke out the slaw, potato salad, and sliced up a fresh pineapple and ATE. (Did I mention the home-made Key Lime Pie for desert?)
The Redneck Gourmet