Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

BBQ My Way

April 11, 2012

BBQ: The art of pork ribs

- — To be considered a true master of the grill, one must learn to prepare pork ribs outdoors.

Today's column will not cover a specific style in detail. Instead, consider this a “big picture” view of what is

possible. I hope it wets your appetite enough to push your outdoor culinary curiosity.

Future columns will cover each genre' and recipe in greater detail.

In general, you will be faced with a choice of pork ribs. “Baby back” ribs are smaller and more expensive. They come from the spinal area of the hog and are part of the ribs.

The spareribs are the

actual rib cage. They are larger and typically less expensive then the baby back ribs. Which is best? I

like them both. It just depends on what looks best on a given day. The spareribs do require a little trimming. Baby backs are pretty much ready to go.

On the back of both sets of ribs you will find a shiny membrane layer. There is ongoing debate as to whether or not this membrane should be peeled off. I have eaten ribs with or without the

membrane, and honestly, I don't notice a huge difference.

The proponents of removal would tell you that the membrane inhibits the ability of the rub to penetrate the meat. Those who leave it on don't want to mess with the extra work, and will tell you the membrane helps keep the meat moist during the

cooking process.

Ribs can be cooked low and slow, while others have great success cooking them for a shorter period of time over higher heat. The traditional southern style is definitely low and slow, with hickory charcoal as the main fuel.

One exception is the Memphis style “Rendezvous Ribs,” Elvis' absolute favorite. It is

a fact that in the days prior to overnight delivery, Elvis would have his ribs shipped from Memphis to Las Vegas on a first-class seat. They are grilled over normal briquet charcoal with no wood, and a unique Greek rub is applied after the ribs are cooked.

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