Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Some great pointers on Cooking Ribs

I came across these great pointers on a website www.chefs.com on the subject of cooking ribs.

by Steven Raichlen
From Raichlen on Ribs, Ribs, Outrageous Ribs

Ribs are easy to cook, but there's more to the process than simply throwing them on the grill. A proper rack needs to be trimmed and peeled, seasoned or marinated, and mopped and sauced at the right intervals. You also have to know when they're done. Here's an eight-point game plan.

Trim the ribs
Chances are, if you buy pork baby backs or beef ribs at the supermarket, they'll come already trimmed. If you see any large lumps of fat, sinews, or loose pieces of bone, cut them off with a paring knife.

Spareribs, on the other hand, often come with the rib tips (cartilaginous ends) and point (a triangle of small bones and sinewy meat at the loin end of the rack) attached. Using a sharp knife and following the line of fat at the base of the ribs, cut off the rib tips. Then cut off the pointed end of the rack of ribs. This will give the rack a neat, rectangular appearance (the point and the rib tips can be cooked separately). And, if the rack has one, remove the tough flap of meat (the skirt or flap) from the bone side. You can use it to flavor baked beans or for making stock. The more evenly you shape the rectangle of the rack, the more evenly the ribs will cook.

Remove the membrane
Most racks of ribs come with a papery membrane on the bone side. I recommend removing this for a couple of reasons. It impedes the absorption of spice and smoke flavors, and it's tougher than the rest of the rib meat. Two good tools to help you get under the membrane so you can pull it off are a butter knife or the tip of a meat thermometer. You'll find detailed instructions for removing the membrane in each recipe.

Season the ribs with a rub or marinade
You can cook ribs seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper. Most pit masters opt for the more complex flavors of a full-blown rub or marinade. Rubs are blends of spices, herbs, and often salt. You sprinkle one over the ribs, then rub it onto the meat, which is why it's called a rub. Rubs can be applied right before cooking, in which case, they act like a seasoned salt. Or they can be applied four to six hours—or even a half day—ahead, in which case, the rub cures the meat in addition to seasoning it. Throughout the book, you'll find many recipes for rubs

A marinade is a wet seasoning, comprised of flavorful liquids, like wine, soy sauce, fruit juice, or olive oil, to name a few, plus spices and aromatic vegetables, like garlic, ginger, or chiles. Marinades are often used to make Asian-style ribs, but they're also frequently used by pit masters in North America. I like disposable heavy aluminum foil drip pans or large resealable plastic bags for marinating.

Always keep meats in the refrigerator as they marinate. Avoid reactive metal containers—unlined aluminum, for example, or cast iron—for marinating, especially with such acidic ingredients as tomatoes, citrus juice, or vinegar. And, never reuse a marinade that's been in contact with raw meat as a baste or as a sauce unless you boil it briskly for three minutes to kill any bacteria. Strain the boiled marinade before using.

A wet rub features the best of both; it's a seasoning paste that's thicker than a normal marinade and wetter than a rub.

Use a rib rack
Only two racks of ribs will fit flat on most kettle grills, but there's an easy way to double the capacity (and the number of people you can feed): Cook the ribs upright in a rib rack.

Mop the ribs
Direct and indirect grilling and smoking are inherently dry cooking methods. One option for keeping ribs moist is to mop them with a mop sauce. Mop sauces contain little or no sugar, so you can apply them throughout the cooking process without them burning. Use a barbecue mop or basting brush for applying mop sauces. Or, you can pour the mop sauce into a spray bottle and squirt it on the ribs.

Wrap the ribs, if necessary
Depending on the size and weight of the ribs, the heat of your grill, and the intensity of the smoke, among other factors, ribs may start to dry out before they've reached the optimal tenderness. Don't worry if this happens—there's an easy solution: Wrap them tightly in aluminum foil and continue grilling. Wrapping seals in moisture because the steam captured will help tenderize the ribs. Be careful when you unwrap the ribs; the escaping steam can burn your fingers.

Sauce the ribs—or not
Purists will argue that a great rib doesn't need sauce. Nonetheless, most people prefer their ribs with at least a light basting of barbecue sauce. What I often do is grill the ribs indirectly until they reach the desired tenderness, then lightly baste them with sauce and move them directly over the fire to sizzle the sauce into the meat. The idea is to use the sauce as a sort of light varnish for the ribs, rather than a thick gloppy coating that camouflages the meat.

Learn to recognize when the ribs are cooked
The two keys to master grillmanship are learning to control the fire (and consequently the heat) and to tell when the ribs are done. We use a three-part doneness test at Barbecue University. Here's what to look for:

A. An exterior that's darkly browned and crusty.

B. Meat that has shrunk back about 1/4 inch from the ends of the bones (or a little more on large beef ribs). I call this a rib's built-in "pop-up thermometer."

C. Meat that's tender enough to tear apart with your fingers. Remember, a rib should have some chew to it.

In addition, if you're smoking ribs, when you cut into one you'll see a layer of reddish pink just beneath the surface. This is called the smoke ring, and it occurs naturally when you expose meat to wood smoke for an extended period of time. I call it the "red badge of honor" of barbecue: If your ribs have one, you've done them right. Display the smoke ring proudly to your guests, taking full advantage of your bragging rights.

The next time you intend cooking ribs - remember to apply the above pointers !

Friday, August 24, 2007

A taste of community - it's like cooking ribs

"It's like cooking ribs" ! - I could not help myself but to bring this piece of news to you, especially because of the context in which it is told. There is a tremendous analogy and insight into the mind of the human, but let me tell you upfront - while I am pasting the link for you to follow, if you love cooking ribs then do not go and read this !

Man ! I consider myself fairly insensitive to "gross" imagery, but when I read this I really felt so put off that I myself was considering becoming a vegetarian, much the same as this writer. I shudder to think what will come up in my mind the next time I sit down to a serving of ribs. I am fairly sure it will be a while before I consider cooking ribs again.

And then, the guy he is speaking to, likens community life to it - "it's like cooking ribs" he says. When there is joy or sadness, pigs are slaughtered.

A taste of community
News-Leader.com, MO - 18 Aug 2007
It's like cooking ribs. I make a joke about becoming a vegetarian. But this dead pig stench, strong and powerful as it is, smells familiar. ...

Please forgive me placing this, but it just hit home hard and left me deep in ponderance. How will you feel the next time you find yourself cooking ribs ?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Cooking Ribs

Cooking Ribs raises $64,000 and goes ECO !

One so easily associates cooking ribs with the pleasurable and usually gluttonous pastime of eating ! But who would have thought that it could raise $64 000 for a charitable organisation ?

The Ribfest organised by the Rotary club of Guelph-Trillum, at Hillside, Guelph lake in Canada, boasts the attendance of around 50 000 rib hungry fans.

Also, RibFest and the Hillside music festivals have become summer events in this city, being fun events that have strong followings. A green roof above the main stage signals Hillside's ecological message to the world.

Artistic director Sam Baijal made the comment "We were green before the word green was even in the vocabulary,".

Food is served on plastic plates with reusable cutlery which is washed by volunteers. Beer is served in plastic reusable mugs. Free city water is supplied by a 15,000 litre tanker truck to be drank from a thousand stainless steel canteens.

If you drink from a can, it will be recycled, and your beer will come from a keg instead of a bottle. Grease, an inevitable byproduct of a weekend of cooking ribs, is recycled into biodiesel. Power comes from a generator.

But some problems aren't so easily overcome, problems like the Styrofoam containers that hold the ribs, beans and coleslaw. Since they're the container of choice for the ribbers who come from far and wide to RibFest to sell their product, local organizers' hands seem tied.

Now does that not provide a different picture that gets conjoured up in our minds when cooking ribs ?

Cooking Ribs

The news on Cooking Ribs

It is always fascinating to read what the news has to say on the subject, e.g., just take a look at the following article:

Stick to your ribs
Washington Observer Reporter, PA - 13 Aug 2007
Raichlen's preferred method for cooking ribs is on the grill - preferably charcoal - or in the smoker. However, the cut dictates the technique, and Raichlen ...
Of course, to get it straight from the horse's mouth you need to take the following link :

Raichlen on Ribs, Ribs, Outrageous Ribs

Cooking Ribs

Cooking Ribs

The pastime or practice of Cooking Ribs might seem like an everyday task to some. However, it has become a quest to cook the perfect rib, and far surpasses the traditional quest of the finest sausage.

To whet your appetite right at the beginning of this great site for cooking ribs :

Click here !