Memorial Day weekend is a month away. Already, many a back yard pit master have started cooking barbecued ribs. Some with great success that pass the test of contest and professional cooks. Others with tremendous failure creating nothing but bland bones flavored with a syrup-like goo. By following these suggestions, you will avoid the latter and consistently create ribs that family and friends will rave over.
Forgive my over capitalization. But, this tip cannot be over emphasized: DO NOT PARBOIL! Cutting a rack of ribs and boiling them is a great way to bleed the flavor out of the meat. Barbecuing takes time and patience. So start cooking either a few hours before your guest arrive or the day before. If you want something cooked quickly, stick to hot dogs and burgers.
Don’t put cold meat on a hot grill. The pit will be 250 to 275 degrees. The bones will be too cold for the rack to get done if you pull it out of the fridge and start cooking. Keep the ribs well wrapped or sealed as you let them warm up to room temperature. About 45 minutes to an hour should be good. Heat and smoke will eliminate the risk of nasty bacteria.
If you are using a charcoal grill, avoid the cheap stuff. Some charcoal briquettes are made of sawdust, and a host of chemicals that taint the flavor of the meat. The national brands make 100% natural briquettes that aren’t much more expensive than their regular product. Costly “wood chunk” type charcoal is not all together necessary. Any hardwood can be used for smoke. Making an aluminum foil pouch of wood chips and punching holes in it keeps them from burning up too fast on the coals or gas burner.
Don’t be upset with yourself if you didn’t marinade your ribs the night before. A generous rub with your favorite seasonings combined with slow hardwood smoking will give you good flavor as well. Some pit masters season their meat with coarse salt and pepper only to enjoy the simple taste of the pork or beef. Syrup-based sauces should be basted on the ribs about a half hour of cooking time to reduce the sugars from burning.
What’s the best rub or sauce? Use your own taste buds. There are plenty of commercial products and regional favorites for you to sample. Or, get really creative and make your own “secret recipe” that you will take to your grave. Good barbeque takes four main ingredients: meat, heat, smoke, and patience.