Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 7, 2013

BBQ: Smoked ribs and chocolate strawberries


— Hey guys, Valentines Day is right around the corner, so as a bonus I am including a simple dessert recipe and a gift idea that will blow the socks off your significant other. But first, let's keep our priorities straight and talk ribs.

In my opinion, ribs are some of the easiest foods to smoke and grill, yet most people don't attempt them. Let's change that trend starting now. There are two true choices in pork ribs. I will detail them below.

Spare ribs: These ribs tend to be meatier. They come from the belly portion of the pig, where the bacon comes from. They take a little longer to cook, and take a little more prep work. But, they are bigger, and in my opinion have the best flavor.

Baby back ribs: These ribs come from the loin of the pig. They tend to be a bit more tender than the spare ribs, and a bit smaller, so they cook quicker. It's kind of like the bone-in pork chop without the loin. They also don't need as much prep work as the spare ribs.

Conclusion: Both ribs are awesome. Buy what's on sale.

Both ribs have a membrane on the bone side. If you want to peel it off, start at one end, gripping the membrane with a piece of paper towel. If you don't want to mess with taking off the membrane, no worries. Some folks take it off, some don't. The theory is that the membrane blocks flavor (smoke and spices) from getting to the meat.

Find your favorite pork rub, or better yet, make one of your own. Paprika, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, go online and come up with a version that you can call your own.

Rub the ribs liberally with your spice rub and cook using indirect heat. Sprinkle the coals with hickory chips one they are 75 percent ashen. Place the ribs on the side opposite the coals, preferably in a rib rack.

Place lid on grill, all vents 50 percent open, and within 1 ½ hours, you will have delicious smoked ribs.

Serve with BBQ sauce on the side.

Chocolate covered strawberries: Gals make these for your significant other. Buy a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Take some strawberries, rinse them off and allow them to totally dry. This is very important, or the chocolate won't adhere.

Set up a double boiler. This is a pot with water and a bowl setting on top of the pot but not quite touching the water. The point is to apply an even heat, which comes from the boiling water.

Melt the chocolate chips while stirring. Add two teaspoons of vegetable oil and stir thoroughly. Dip the strawberries in the hot chocolate and set on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Refrigerate. You can start eating them within 15 minutes.