Muschamp Rd

BarBQ Ribs

August 13th, 2006
Ribs

I’ve done a lot of BarBQ’ing in my time. Just the other day I had to cook forty five hamburgers for a party my mom threw. When you start cooking more meat than you can fit on a grill at one time it ceases to be a hobby and becomes a job. At least it wasn’t raining or anything.

Several boxes of M&M burgers I BarBQ'ed

Over the years I’ve BarBQ’ed just about everything there is to do: steaks, burgers, pork chops, roasts, vegetables, skewers, salmon, mushrooms, turkey thighs, entire chickens… but I’ve never done ribs. I don’t particularly care for ribs. I don’t like chicken wings/legs for the same reason, I don’t like eating off the bone.

But BarBQ’ing ribs is taken really seriously down South and I have a keen appreciation for Southern BarBQ and decided since my mom, grandmother, sister, basically everyone but me loves ribs, I’d try to do them right.

In Vancouver the place to go if you like to eat meat is Memphis Blues. It is not a steak house, Vancouver has no shortage of those. Memphis Blues does Southern style BarBQ long on taste and short on formality. In my travels I’ve been able to sample a wide variety of cuisine including food from the American South. Combined with research on the internet and in various books I took different ideas and tried to incorporate them as best I could.

I’m also a big advocate for Bourbon and had a couple of uncommon bottles that I’ve stockpiled over the years so one of my first decisions was to do a Bourbon based sauce. I decided to open the botle of Old Weller Antique that I had bought years ago while in Las Vegas. You can’t buy this whiskey in Vancouver, I’ve never even seen it in a bar anywhere in the world. Perhaps it is a bit too obscure to use everyday, especially in a sauce, but it had sat ‘undrank’ for years while I waited for a special occasion. Plus once it is opened I won’t have that as an excuse not to drink it.

Rib Rub

Even more important than the sauce is the rub when preparing ribs. I read a lot of elaborate time consuming techniques, some of which called for the rub to be put on the day before. That isn’t practical, I’ve cooked meals before that required preparation the day before, such as pizza dough, but I wanted a recipe that could be made in a single afternoon.

When BarBQ’ing ribs there are four crucial elements:

  1. Meat Preparation
  2. Rub
  3. Slow Cooking
  4. Mop/Sauce

Some rib recipes requiring cooking the ribs in an oven or on a stove prior to BarBQ’ing others involve more of a smoking technique with little or no actual grilling. I wanted BarBQ ribs and decided cooking the ribs before BarBQ’ing was out. I also decided to use the rotisserie. This facilitates slow cooking and is something I’ve had a good experience with when cooking chicken or roasts on the BarBQ, salmon can be done this way as well.

Rub

This is the rub I decided to use. It came from the Internet and didn’t contain anything too radical and had a relatively balanced mixture of ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup paprika

Rubbed and ready for cooking

The ribs were coated in a little mustard then the rub was applied by hand. This mustard + rub technique I’ve also used on pork roasts.

Sauce

The sauce I settled on was also a recipe off the internet, which has since disappeared. I had the foresight to write it down and have since included it in the original blog post. The original recipe made four cups, for some reason I decided to make even more barbeque sauce, just keep your proportions correct and you’ll be fine. It takes about 15 minutes to prepare the ingredients and 30 minutes to cook. So you can have fresh homemade BarBQ sauce in 45 minutes. It will keep for a long time, which is why you make larger batches. This should yield about 6 cups of sauce.

  • 3/4 onion, minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup and 2 tablespoons bourbon whiskey
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons liquid smoke flavoring
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the onion, garlic, and whiskey. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Mix in the ground black pepper, salt, ketchup, tomato paste, vinegar, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and hot pepper sauce.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Run sauce through a strainer if you prefer a smooth sauce.

You can prepare your sauce while your ribs are cooking. I think you need to a lot of time at least four hours to actually cook the ribs. This doesn’t include preparation time or making the rub. We still have plenty of rub left over and plan to try it out on other barbequed meat. I was pressured to serve my ribs sooner than I was advised to let them cook for so they were only cooked a little over three and a half hours. Many experts would advocate six or possibly more hours of slow patient cooking.

After Two Hours

Ribs after two hours

After First Basting

After the first basting

After Second Basting

Ribs after second basting

Ready to Eat

Finished Ribs on a platter
I’m still not the biggest fan of ribs, too much work. I’ll have to try to make them again. I might try some of the more elaborate moistening techniques or cook them in foil part of the time. The rub turned out well, the sauce was a bit tangier than expected but tastes good and smelled even better when I was making it. Next time I do Southern BarBQ I’m going to try to do pulled pork.

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