Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Barbecued Baby Back Ribs - The Battle of the Tutors
Tonight was one of those nights that is becoming increasingly more rare, where all of us would be together for dinner time. I took it as an opportunity to be celebratory, as the month of June signals the end of another school year, and in the case of our house, the end of high school FOREVER. So I left it to the soon-to-be-unshackled student to pick the menu. Here is where I confess that I was wholly influenced by today's blog entry by Rachelle Eats Food called Best.Day.Ever. It IS entirely possible that I did utter the words 'So how about ribs?', as he was formulating his thoughts. Being mid-afternoon, there was no way I could source the exotic things on Rachelle's dinner plate from last night (like wild boar spare ribs), but hopefully I could do a decent knock-off.
I have a relatively fast and easy way of doing my barbecued baby back ribs but a blog entry by Ron Eade (food editor for the Ottawa Citizen) from last summer called A Very Canadian Event left me feeling a bit lacking. Ron often shares his dedication to his outdoor cooking craft as he has made a number of references to his Big Green Egg (oh how I want one) and his Traeger smoker. That equipment is in addition to his Napoleon grill. His miles and experience at the grill are far, far greater than mine. I could learn from the master.
I couldn't remember all the suggestions Ron had from that write-up so I went back to take a look, hoping there was something I could incorporate to kick my ribs up a notch.
I don't usually remove the membrane. I just score it excessively in a diamond pattern. (I always thought the membrane helped engineering-wise to keep super tender ribs from totally disintegrating.)
I don't season the ribs overnight with a dry rub. I do it following the membrane scoring and just before I braise them.
I don't smoke them for 4 hours at 215ºF. I braise them in the oven in about 2 cups of water (once the rib's membrane side has been covered in very thin slices of fresh lemon) for 2.5 hours at 325ºF. Covered of course.
I don't triple wrap them in foil, once painted in sauce, and hold them in a 200°F oven until dinner (up to 6 hours!). I finish them on the barbecue at a not too high heat by slathering them with sauce and turning regularly for about 10 minutes and then right to the plate.
Wow, I felt pretty stuck, considering the short window to dinner time. I then went to the books of the zany grill master and barbecue aficionado, Ted Reader. Ted seems to be a very good friend of Ron's so his word would be gospel too. My luck! His 2001 cookbook Sticky Fingers and Tenderloins, detailed a number of cooking methods and also his particular favourite.
Ted likes to first braise his ribs in the oven for 2 to 2.5 hours at 325ºF! I felt redeemed. His prep includes scoring the membrane in a diamond pattern! Then rubbing the ribs with his favourite Bone Dust BBQ Spice. He also lays 3 or 4 slices of lemon on the back of each rib! Now I am feeling really, really good. However, his braising bath is more sophisticated than my water bath. He likes to use such things as lemon juice and ginger ale. Even beer. My kitchen was lacking such basic ingredients in any large quantity so I just stuck with the water this time. Ted's finishing is also a continual grill, baste and turn technique for about 10 minutes until the barbecue sauce is nicely caramelized.
With just a few hours to make this meal happen, I fell under Ted's tutelage and went for the 'fast' method of making barbecued baby back ribs. Someday I may see a Big Green Egg on my back deck or perhaps even a Traeger smoker. And if I can really get some serious planning going, the process of 'rib rub love' could start the day before and it could possibly include well-sourced wild boar ribs. It is nice to have things to look forward to.
How do you do your barbecued baby back ribs?