Friday, March 25, 2011

mmmm RIBS

Hey all, Berkeley here for a post from the grill. After not doing the greatest job with getting the turkey information posted, I am back to try and redeem myself with a posting about what I am cooking at this very moment. Forget Tony Roma's, forget Chili's, I am doing RIBS at home on my 16 year old Weber kettle grill.

I have wanted to do ribs for some time and recent sale on pork at the local grocery store has further made it possible. Regularly a rack will run you more then $15 but when you can get a second free, it's hard to pass up the opportunity. Plus, one rack will feed two people so stick some away in the freezer and save for later.

I will not begin to tell everyone that I did this all on my own. "Meathead" over at has a wealth of information on just about any kind of meat you want to grill. I also got on google and did some searching. In the end, I felt that this was a project that I would be able to handle.

About 4 hours before I lit my coals, I pulled out my rack of ribs that had been thawing in the refrigerator overnight and gave them their seasoning. First, I began with removing the membrane from the backside of the meat. This is not necessary but it does turn into leather after cooking and no one wants to chew on leather. Next, I used a rub of salt, black pepper, some sugar, and a little something spicy. I don't mean to be vague but honestly, make your rub the way you want. Coat the meat in a little olive oil, apply your rub, and wrap it in plastic. Once this is done, back in the fridge until an hour before cooking.

As cooking time approached I prepped my grill for 2-zone cooking. This is easy to do: bank your lit coals to one side of the grill and place an aluminum pan filled with HOT water on the other side. The water is to control the humidity and temperature while cooking and it should be hot so that you don't have to burn your coals down to heat up the water. Also, the steam generated helps impart the smokiness to meat. I need to take a moment before the cooking begins and bring up a point that I feel is important: the way that we light our coals. Use a chimney and newspaper, NOT lighter fluid or quick lighting coals!

It's also a good idea to keep your grill at about a low-medium heat to slow cook the meat so I like to go with vents half-open and adjust as necessary. I have read that 225 degrees F is the recommended temp but in the end, as long as it is not above 275 you should be ok. If you are worried, get an oven thermometer and put it in the grill. If it's too high, close up your vents some. Too low, crank them open.

A quick word about smoke if I may. It seems that in the end we all love a smokey flavor when we grill BUT how much is too much? Two things I have learned: (1) leave the exhaust vent open on the top of the grill and (2) don't add chips more then twice and never more then a handful at a time. If you don't vent the smoke or put in too many chips, your meat can be left very bitter. One more thing, perhaps it's because I was raised in the desert but mesquite is my favorite and that is what I used.

Once the grill is hot, place the meat on the rack above the pan you filled with water, toss some chips on the coals, and close it back up. In twenty minutes when the smoke has died down, go ahead and add your second handful of chips. After this, LEAVE IT ALONE! Going out and checking the meat all the time will cause you to lose cooking heat. Set a timer for an hour, grab a drink, and relax. When the timer goes off, check the meat quickly, make sure it's not burnt, and close it back up.

After three hours, the meat should be done. If you lift the meat and it cracks a little, you're ready. Now is the time to add sauce. Any BBQ sauce will work whether it is homemade or commercial; just go with what you like the taste of. Some say to heat the sauce but I don't think that it really matters. Brush both sides of the meat and then move it over the coals. Use the direct heat from the coals to crisp the sauce but keep a watchful eye so that crispy exterior doesn't turn to charcoal. Once the sauce is crisped to your liking, take it off the heat and serve it up.

The pictures above were taken after saucing and a little direct heat. The meat should still have a little pink ribbon to it when you break it apart. This is from the smoking process that took place while cooking and is a sign of good ribs.

We enjoyed our ribs with some mashed potatoes, corn, and garlic bread. If mac n' cheese and coleslaw is more your thing then go for it. Whatever you decide, these ribs are great. Questions? Comments? Concerns? Send them here!

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