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  1. Sorry for the duplicate posts. The forum was giving me SQL errors and I did not know my post actually got posted. Hopefully the Mods will delete the other posts. I received another informative email from www.texasbbqrub.com. ALL credit is to them. I hope this helps someone out that wanted to cook ribs better or had questions. Texas BBQ Rub's Guide to Kick Your BBQ to the Next Level Article 4 Pork Ribs In the world of BBQ cooking perhaps the most cooked of all the meats are pork ribs and that is what you are going to learn how to do in this article. We are going to cover pork spare ribs, pork St. Louis Cut ribs, Baby Back ribs, and then Country Style pork ribs. This is the 4th Article in this series of 8 to 10 BBQ guides. People love ribs that is a fact; but they like them in a variety of ways such as no sauce on them at all just a great rub, sauced lightly, covered in BBQ sauce, some like to eat the meat off the bone without the entire rib meat coming off with their first bite, and some like the fall off the bone ribs. But the two common things they all seem to want are a great tasting rib and a rib full of natural juices. There are a few big questions you may be asking yourself and trying to find the answers for. 1. Do I need to remove the membranes from the ribs before I cook them? 2. What is the easiest way to remove the membrane from the ribs? 3. Do I need to wrap the ribs? And if so when do I do it? 4. What is the simple 3-2-1 method talked about for cooking ribs? 5. How do I know when the ribs are done? 6. When do I add the sauce if I want to add some to the ribs? 7. How tender do I need to cook the ribs and how do I do that? The answer to these questions and others will be covered in depth in this article. OH! THOSE WONDERFUL PORK RIBS From Kansas City, to North Carolina, back to Memphis and down to Texas one thing that all barbecue fanatics seem to agree on is ribs are made for barbecuing. Now that is all they can agree on because the way they are cooked, the sauce (if any) used on the ribs while cooking or eating, and the type of rib to use for the best outcome seem to all have a fierce debate going on all of the time. But, in all reality, ribs are a wonderful piece of meat to cook on the grill and they are even better (my opinion) on a smoker. But let's get down to cooking some ribs and licking our fingers. The styles are different, the ribs may be different but one thing remains the same, ribs are great for smoking and grilling. Whether you like your ribs wet, dry, with sauce, without sauce, baby backs, spares, country style: we all seem to love ribs. There is just not another piece of meat you get to grab with your hands and eat right off of the bone. OK the basics. First, we all know that you don't use a fork to eat a rib. This piece of meat was made to be picked up and eaten with your hands. So it is not the typical meat to cook for a sit down, black tie affair. This is getting your hands nasty and licking them clean kind of eating. You know the kind of fun when the kids eat they have stuff all over their smiling faces. The fun begins. But you are standing in the store with all of those ribs in packages and really don't know which packages of ribs to pick up and take home and cook. Well there are three basic things you will need to look for in a pork rib to help you decide which ones deserves your cooking. 1. The amount of meat on the rib (you want to have some meat on them so look at them carefully to decide which ones have the most meat on them. And it is best to find ribs that are fairly uniform in thickness across the rib). If they are frozen look at the thickness of the package cause you really can't feel the meat. If they are not frozen you can feel the meat above a bone and feel just how much meat there is on that rib. You are looking for a nice even thickness with a good amount of meat. 2. Then you are going to look at the amount of fat on the rib itself. In spare ribs or St Louis spare ribs you are looking for a nice feathering of fat across the rib. You don't want a rib that all of the fat is clumped in one side of the rib. For baby back ribs you want the same but these ribs are typically feathered with a nice amount of fat so look for a rack that has just a nice amount of fat across the rib. In other words no large fat cap covering the entire rib surface. 3. You could stop right here and have some great ribs to cook on the pit or grill. But there is one more thing that makes serving the ribs once they are cooked easier to present to everyone. Flip the rib over and look at the bones of the rib. Try to find a rack that the bones are fairly straight across the rib. Usually you see a couple of straight bones and then all of a sudden the bones start curving. This is not a deal killer on the ribs it is just easier if the rib bones are straight when it come to cutting them for your guests. When I talk about ribs, I usually talk about spare ribs and it's trimmed up sister the St Louis cut spare rib. But there are many of you who enjoy cooking and eating baby backs (loin back) and then there are those that enjoy cooking and eating Country Style Ribs. So, we are going to spend some time and talk about each of the three "ribs" I have mentioned above. Keep in mind that Country Style Ribs are not really ribs at all…but more on that later. But first…….the single question asked most when it comes to cooking ribs….. DO YOU NEED TO REMOVE THE MEMBRANE ON THE RIB OR NOT? The big question or debate among rib cookers is whether or not the membrane should be removed from the ribs prior to cooking or do you cook with the membrane on the ribs. Ask 100 people and it seems you will get 50 that say remove the membrane and 50 that say leave it on there. OK for those of you that don't know the membrane is a very thin piece of cartilage that is on the bone side of the rack of ribs. You can remove the membrane by peeling it off. Use a sharp knife and slip it under the membrane at one end of the rack of ribs and peal back enough to get a good grip on the membrane. Some suggest using a screwdriver to pry under the membrane instead of a knife, it is much safer. Try gripping the membrane with a paper towel or pliers and then peeling it off the rack. This takes some practice so just keep working at it. Adds time to your preparation so plan extra time to get these off if you so desire. Tip: The best thing that I have seen used for removing the membranes from ribs is a catfish skin remover (not sure that is the correct name) but what it is it looks like a pair of pliers except the end is about 2 inches wide and you can grip the membrane with it and work it off the rib. You should be able to find one of these pretty easy at a good outdoor supply store. My personal preference and the way I cook all of my ribs is to leave the membrane on the ribs when you cook them. That being said, I'm sure there are plenty of you out there that remove the membrane and I have no problem with that either. I just think it is a waste of time if you are going to cook the ribs over low and slow conditions. If you are grilling the ribs, then I might have a tendency to agree with you to take off the membrane. A Big Advantage of leaving the membrane on the ribs is……... TIP: The juices of the ribs are actually held in the meat by the membrane as the ribs cook: so they hold much more of their natural juices. And as a note you can always remove the membrane after you cook the ribs if that is the way you prefer to serve them. Some argue that spices and smoke cannot penetrate the membrane so you lose some of the flavor you are trying to get into the meat. Not true in the case of low and slow smoking. After a period of time of cooking at say 220 to 225 degrees the membrane will actually start to tear apart and can actually disappear as the rib cooks over a long time. It no longer is in its single piece stage and does not change or hamper any of the smoke flavor or rub flavor you are trying to get into the meat. If you are grilling ribs, then perhaps the best way to get the ribs to their most tender and best tasting stage is to remove the membrane because the ribs you are grilling are not going to be exposed to the long periods of low heat but rather higher heat for a shorter period of time. I can see the benefit in removing the membrane for grilling purposes only. So, this decision rests with you. Try it both ways and find out which way you prefer the ribs. Membrane off or membrane on. Now let's get into the discussion of the different types of ribs. SPARE RIBS The Spare Rib comes from the side of the pig, right next to the belly. You ever heard the term "side of ribs" well it comes from talking about spare ribs and where they come from. You usually buy spare ribs in the whole "rack". There are 13 bones in a full rack of ribs. Try to find racks of ribs that are "5 and under" referring to the weight of the rack. There are two distinct sides to the rack of ribs, a bone side (covered by the membrane) and a meat side. The rack will be a little curved. You can buy spares with either the skirt (a extra flap of meat attached to the rack) on or the skirt off. Most of the wholesale and supermarkets sell their spares with the skirt on. Just leave it on there and cook it and enjoy. Spare ribs are a little meatier than baby backs and they are fattier cause of their size. But they usually cost 2/3 as much as baby backs. I don't cook baby backs as much as I cook spare ribs. I personally think the flavor of spares just can't be beat and they are the perfect finger food. Some folks cut the spare rib rack into what many will call St. Louis cut spareribs. Basically, they cut the bottom of the ribs off right above the knuckle and square up the rack. Hey folks cook what you enjoy cooking because people will eat any rib you cook if it done correctly. If you do like to cook the whole rack of untrimmed spare ribs there is some of the best tasting meat down in the knuckles of the rib. So enjoy them. An Interesting Note You see restaurants advertising ribs on their menus either as a whole rack or half rack. These can be any number of ribs that the restaurant wishes to call a rack or a half rack. So a half rack can be 3 ribs and a full rack can be 6 ribs. Not exactly a full rack of ribs, as we know them. BABY BACK RIBS The Baby Back ribs are sometimes referred to as "back" ribs or Loin Back ribs. The baby in baby back actually comes from the size of the ribs themselves. They are much smaller in nature than the spare ribs, as the rack on baby backs will weight only 1½ pounds to 31/2 pounds. They are thicker than a rack of spare ribs with a little less fat. The meat from the baby backs comes from the loin (the back part of the pig, where the better cuts of meat on the pig are located). Remember you are looking for a nice amount of meat on this rib. Even now you will find some baby back ribs that say extra meaty on them as they will tend to have more meat on them than the typical baby back rib and they sell for a premium price. Baby backs are generally the most versatile of the ribs to cook. You can grill them or smoke them. They are, in my opinion, the best rib to grill as they are smaller and leaner and will cook in a shorter period of time than spares they are more geared to the high temperatures that grilling is all about. Because of their size they will cook quicker than spare ribs. If you were grilling baby backs then I would recommend removal of the membrane prior to cooking. They are not going to be exposed to the smoke and fire long enough to break down the membrane by cooking. So spend some time and remove the membrane. COUNTRY STYLE RIBS So-called country style ribs are not ribs at all. Now don't get mad because these little gems are cut to look like a rib but they come from the blade side of the loin or in many cases they are a pork butt cut into strips. They resemble fatty pork chops cut into pieces that resemble a rib. These you can get for under a $1 a pound when you find them on sale and they make great BBQ. Nothing wrong with them they just are not a real rib. The have no membrane and are usually cut in about 1 inch thick pieces about 3 to 5 inches in length. Recommended cooking of these is low and slow. But they can be grilled as well. COOKING RIBS - EASY AS 1-2-3 Simply rub down the rack of ribs you are cooking with Worcestershire sauce and apply Texas BBQ Rub to the ribs. On spare ribs about ¾ cup on the meat side of the rack of ribs. For baby backs it will be about 2/3 as much rub to cover the rib rack. For country style ribs you will have to do each "rib" separately by adding just a little rub to the "rib" after you cover with Worcestershire sauce. Place the ribs on the grill or pit with the bone side down. For country style ribs just lay them on the cooking grate. For indirect smoking/cooking (no wrapping), cook at 220-225 degrees for about 5 to 6 hours for whole untrimmed spare ribs, 3 to 4 hours for baby backs, about 4 to 5 hours for the St. Louis cut spare ribs and about 3 to 4 hours for the country style ribs. No need to turn them over they will be fine and you don't want to loose any rub by flipping them over during cooking. You will notice during cooking that the ribs will look like they are drying out. This is part of the cooking process and they will not dry out unless your cooking temp is too high. As the ribs get close to being done you will see them glaze back over. This is the rub working its magic on the ribs and they will soon be done. No sauce needed let Texas BBQ Rub take over on the cooking and just keep the fire at the right temp. How do you determine when the ribs are done? Tear Test The best way for you to determine if the ribs are done is to use your hands. Pick them up with gloves on your hands and twist the ribs at the top of the rib to see if you see the meat start tearing away from the bone. When done the rib meat will tear away from the bone cleanly. If they are tough to tear then leave them on the smoker for more cooking. You should feel the ribs give in the middle if you hold the rack by the two ends. You will see the give in the rack of ribs when they are done. Once you see the meat cleanly pull away from the bone take them off the pit and enjoy. If you don't have a good pair of gloves that can handle the heat, the grease, and holding or moving the meat then we have those on our site so order a pair of those gloves with your rub order and you won't need another tool around the pit for moving or holding the meats you are cooking. Toothpick Method Tooth picks are great around the smoker to do things like hold stuffed meat together but they are great when it comes time to test the meat for doneness. You can use a toothpick to determine if the ribs are done by simply running a toothpick between two bones and see if it passes thru the meat easily. If you feel resistance then the meat is not as tender as you may prefer it to be so let the ribs cook a bit longer. You can also use a toothpick on a brisket to determine when it is really tender. Bones of the ribs are exposed (this does not always happen to a rack of ribs) You will sometimes see the meat pull down the bone of the rib. This is fine and I usually see it on pork spareribs and not so much on baby back ribs (usually on the baby backs a few of the bones will become exposed as the meat pulls down but they are hard to see do to the curve of the baby back can hide that on your grill). This is just an indication that the meat is shrinking and it is not the best way to determine if the ribs are cooked to your liking. They are pretty when the bone is exposed but do not use this as a measure of the doneness of the rib. You will notice also that ribs that are wrapped in foil for a hour or so that the rib bone is often more exposed than ribs that are cooked without wrapping. For grilling you can cook either baby backs or spares over direct heat. Prepare the ribs the same way as before except this time you will be cooking directly over a very hot fire. Add some smoke flavor to the ribs by adding some wood to your fire. See our website at www.texasbbqrub.com for a discussion on adding smoke to the gas or charcoal fire. If you are grilling your ribs and you start to see a heavy char forming on the bottom of the rib just place a piece of aluminum foil under the rib and that will knock the direct heat coming from under the rib off of the rib. Watch the ribs carefully as to not burn the coating of rub or sauce you have on the ribs. Rubs and sauces all have some sugar in them and sugar will burn at a little over 300 degrees so use the aluminum foil to keep the ribs from getting burned or too heavily charred. Cooking time for the baby back ribs on the grill (try to stay in the 300 degree range on the grill) will be about 1 to 1½ hours and for spares about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. If you want to finish off the ribs will a BBQ sauce add the sauce the last 15 minutes of the cooking time. This will keep the sauce from burning. You can even add the sauce to the rib after it has finished cooking and you are getting ready to slice the ribs. WRAPPING RIBS IN FOIL I have had hundreds of questions about wrapping ribs. Here are my thoughts. There are a lot of smokers that prefer to wrap their ribs during the cooking process to shorten the cooking time and to also make the ribs fall of the bone tender. I prefer not to wrap my ribs but if you would like to wrap your ribs during the cooking process then there are a couple of rules of thought on this. I would like to tell you that when you wrap the ribs the meat texture will begin to change. They can get mushy if you leave them wrapped too long so be careful with the wrapping of ribs. I hate to change the wonderful texture of ribs so I stay away from wrapping except in competition where the judges think the meat has to be falling off the bone. I personally like to pick up the rib bone and eat the meat off of it. You decide and try both methods. Spare ribs: If you are cooking on a pit (low and slow 225 to 235 degrees) then the general rule of thought is to do the ribs using the 3-2-1 method. That is the method that says 3 hours uncovered on the pit, then wrap for 2 hours, and then take them out of the foil and put them back on the pit for another hour to tighten the ribs back up. I find that wrapping the ribs for 2 hours the ribs are overcooked so use the same method and do the ribs 3 hours on the pit unwrapped then 1 ½ hours wrapped then another ½ hour unwrapped back on the pit to tighten up the ribs. Pour or spray some liquid over the top of the ribs to give it some moisture when you wrap the ribs. You can use apple juice, or the best I think is some spray margarine and spray the top of the ribs real well. You can add some honey or brown sugar or both to give a much sweeter taste to the rib. Baby Back ribs: For the smoker, use the same method but cut your time to say 2 hours on the smoker unwrapped, 1 hour wrapped, and then 15 to 30 minutes back on the smoker uncovered to tighten the ribs back up. Again, add some liquid to the ribs that you are wrapping like apple juice, honey, butter, or spray margarine. This will give the ribs some moisture to work with inside the wrapping. If you are cooking baby backs on the grill then use a 1 hour on the grill, 45 minutes wrapped and then 15 minutes to tighten the ribs back up. Cutting the Ribs First, fresh cut ribs straight out of the pit are the most wonderful tasting ribs you will ever pick up. Dripping with natural juices and full of flavor it just does not get any better than a rib coming off the pit and cut while it is hot and then eaten immediately. Ribs should be cut off the full rack when you are ready to serve them and you should not cut them in advance as the rib will dry out as the air hits the meat. So try and cut the ribs right when you need them and cut just enough for everyone to enjoy and then cut more for the second round of eating. And there will be a round 2 and maybe a round 3. The best way to cut your ribs is to lay the rib on a cutting board with the bone side of the ribs facing you. You are going to want to cut between the bones where the meat is. You can take a sharp knife and just place it between the rib bones starting at the top of the rib and work it down between the rib bones. Once you get pretty good at this and for some great show to your friends you can stand the rib on end and with a really sharp knife and nice cooked ribs take the knife, starting at the top between the bones run the knife down the rib letting the knife naturally follow the rib bone. Makes a nice show and it will impress the friends. And then once they eat your ribs you will be the rib king. What I just Did on the Pit I just finished cooking 2 racks of baby back ribs. I did this while I was writing this article so that I could cover all of the thoughts that I had while cooking. I cooked the baby back ribs at 225 to 235 degrees for 3 ½ hours. I did not remove the membrane. I just applied some worchestershire sauce and then Texas BBQ Rub (the simple 1-2-3 method) and placed the ribs on the pit bone side down for 3 ½ hours and they were dripping with juice fabulous tasting ribs. I couldn't resist eating a couple of the ribs. I could not tell the membrane was there at all. I took some home to my wife and she loved them. I don't cook many baby back ribs so she asked all about them. It is nice to make your wife happy with some good eating ribs. Hope you enjoyed this Article and we will be getting Article 5 out to you in about a week and next up will be pork butts and pork shoulders. Thanks for being one of our great subscribers. We do appreciate all of you. And we love to hear from you. Go cook some great ribs this weekend! It's Father's Day and why not treat yourself and your family to some of your great ribs. And to all the Dad's out there have a wonderful Father's Day with your family. So get out there and cook some ribs because with practice you will just get better. Bill Cannon President Texas BBQ Rub 157 FM 359 Rd Richmond, TX 77406 bill@texasbbqrub.com 281-344-1076 PS: If you need some Texas BBQ Rub for Father's Day this weekend you better order today so we can get your order shipped out immediately so you will have it for your ribs. Here is the link to get ya' some right now. Texas BBQ Rub will save you time around the pit and will move your BBQ up a notch or two. http://www.texasbbqrub.com/shopping.html PPS: Pass this on to your friends and neighbors so they can also learn about cooking great ribs. They will love the fact that you thought of them while learning about ribs. Copyright 2014 by Real Texas BBQ Rub, Inc. all rights reserved.
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