Saturday, August 11, 2007

BBQ Ribs, Devilham Style

Okay, so you want to make BBQ ribs do you? Well, real BBQ is done low and slow, over indirect heat, and takes many hours, however, before you even put a match to a hunk of charcoal, there are other things you have to take care of first.

You are going to need some ribs, the preferred cut is the St. Louis style cut of ribs, this is a cut somewhere between a spare rib and a baby back. It has a little more fat than the baby back, but a little more substance to it as well. Since we will be cooking these over the course of many hours, a lot of the fat will render off, so don't worry to much about it. On the underside of the rib is a tough thin membrane that will need to be removed. While many consider this an important step (as do I), and it would be a critical misstep to forget to do it if one were in a competition, I have forgotten to remove the membrane once or twice and frankly, again, thanks to the long cooking time, well, I didn't notice a grand drop in quality. What I am getting at is if it's giving you a hard time when you are trying to get the stuff off, well, don't sweat that either.

Next, what I like to do is to cure the meat. I make a solution of water, kosher salt, brown sugar as a base, and then, depending on mood or availability I will add other flavorful ingredients, such as apple cider, maple syrup, bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic cloves, well, you get the idea. Submerge your ribs in this solution overnight. I have found that buying disposable tin trays from Costco to be invaluable for this and other stages of BBQing, so you can take that for what it's worth.

24 hours have passed, and it's time for another step in preparation. Remove the ribs from the cure and pat them dry with a paper towel. Next you will want to smear the ribs with yellow mustard (Whoa! you say, yellow mustard!!! that stuff is crap!! well, yes, but it does have it's uses in the world. In this case it will slough off with the fat over the course of cooking, but believe me, you would notice it missing if not used, and it helps the rub stick). Next you will want to rub the ribs with a spice rub, mine consists of paprika, brown sugar, kosher salt, onion powder, garlic powder cayenne, and a few other 'secret' ingredients, but that should provide you with a good framework to start with. Let the ribs rest with the rub on them for at least an hour, in fact, seeing as how you will want the ribs to be room temperature when you put them on the fire, just leave them out for this stage of the process.

Okay, time to start your fire. I have a Chargriller smoker/grill that I would highly recommend to anyone in the market for BBQ rig. It's basically a half barrel grill, with a side firebox for smoking, however, when I do ribs, I set the fire in the half barrel, but push the coals all the way to the right hand side so as to create an indirect heat source. I also like to have some wood chips soaking and ready to go to throw on the coals, for some good smokey flavor. Once your fire is going you will want to make adjustment until your cooking chamber reaches approximately 260 to 280 degrees, this is the BBQ sweet spot.

Place your ribs as far from the fire as possible on your grill rack, throw on some wood chips, close the lid and enjoy a beer. Periodically (about every half hour or so is my guide) you will want to baste the ribs with what's called a vinegar mop. Mine is pretty simple, I take a tablespoon of my BBQ rub, and whisk it into 2 cups of apple cider vinegar, but you can look up and use whatever version you like.

3 1/2 to 4 hours later, and you will be enjoying fall off the bone porky pleasure. Slather with your favorite BBQ sauce, and serve with some crisp cole slaw. It's my favorite thing in the world

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