Written by Rick McLaughlin

Thursday, 25 May 2006

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"OMG" Barbecued Ribs Recipe for Memorial Day Weekend and June 2006

Rick McLaughlinOkay, since this is my first entry, and I'm not noted as being a "Politically Correct Guy" (my wife says I'm the "Poster Boy of Political Incorrectness"), and we are fast coming upon the Memorial Day Weekend, I thought I could combine these two elements into one themed post sure to annoy and offend some folks. Oh, and I have to say sorry in advance to Stan, but this one is not for you. There is nothing "dietetic", "low fat" or "animal friendly" about this post. We are going to discuss grilling a big ol' slab of meat!

Warm weather in our Northern climates usually turn a man's mind to outdoor activates such as baseball, swimming, looking to see if the chick walking by in the "Daisy Dukes" has on a thong or high-cuts, and of course, barbequing. I love grilling, both inside on my Jenn-Aire and out on my natural gas fired CharBroil. I hope to, throughout the coming months, post several grilling ideas that might help make you one of the Grill Nation Legion. 

Now, I know there are folks who say it's not "real" barbeque unless it's done over charcoal or wood. Okay, I'll admit there is a difference cooking that way. But the heat source is of little importance if the cook doesn't know how to make the most of it, and there is nearly no effect a charcoal grill can do that can not be recreated in a gas grill, if you know how. 

Now, with that objection handled before it could arise, you might be asking yourself "Alright, 'Fatman', where are you going with this and where is the recipe?" Well, what I'm going to share with you is my method for smoking/grilling what my family calls "Oh My God" Pork Ribs, one of a series of dishes that all start with the same phrase. This is a combination technique lesson and recipe, so it's a bit long.

Barbequed Ribs, Barbecued Ribs, OMG Ribs



Pork Ribs, figure 1 slab for 3 to 4 people, and all volumes below are calculated on two slabs 

1/4 cup Coarse Kosher Salt
3 Tablespoons Black Pepper, coarsely crushed 
Minced Garlic, 10 to 12 cloves should do 
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 cups Bourbon (Jim Beam)
1 medium bag Hickory Chips (about 1/4 cu ft) 
1 large yellow Onion
1 12oz bottle Pilsner Beer (Budweiser)
1 tablespoon dried Sweet Basil
1 tablespoon dried Parsley
Thick Aluminum Foil
Grilling BBQ Ribs Hickory Chips for BBQ

Step 1. Selecting the Meat: Fresh cut pork is always preferable, but unless you have a good local butcher and you live close to an agricultural district, odds are all you are going to find is commercial pre-processed pork. This isn't a bad thing, it actually helps to keep the price down, but you have to be a smarter shopper to take advantage of the selection. Look for a set of ribs that have some fat, but not a thick layer covering the entire surface. This fat should be white and have a waxy sheen. If there is too much fat, the ribs will be, well, fatty and greasy. Too little, and they will be tasteless and dry. If the fat is yellowed, or looks dry, this meat has been either stored badly or too long, and that's not what you want. There also should be a little fat marbled in the meat. This adds to the flavor as well. There should be a fair amount of meat between the ribs, but that sort of goes without saying. If you can see the back of the ribs, you can usually ask to look) if they are in the meat case at your local grocer, look for a pearlescent membrane. This membrane should be wet and shiny. Same goes here as it does for the fat, if it ain't pretty, move along.
Fresh Cut Pork Ribs Rack of Ribs, Pork Ribs, Barbequed Ribs

Step 2. Preparing the Meat: Once you've found the right rack(s) of ribs, and you've brought them home, the fun begins. Remember that membrane I mentioned a minute ago? Well, you need to remove it. It can add bitterness to your meat, and can make things tough. To remove, simply poke your sharp knife tip under the edge and slice a little piece free. Once you have enough of an edge to grab, grasp the membrane and peel it down and off. It may take a few tries to get it all. Now, flip the ribs over and look at the fat, you want to shave down any thick areas until they are about 1/8" to 1/4" thick. After you've trimmed and stripped the meat, give it a quick rinse under cold, running water, then pat dry. Now, take and sprinkle some of the Kosher salt, course cracked pepper, and minced garlic over the back surface of the ribs, then using the heal of you hand, rub it in. Flip the ribs over and repeat the process. Once the surface has been thoroughly seasoned, either mist or lightly dab some extra virgin olive oil over the meaty side of the ribs, place them on a cutting board or a platter, cover them with aluminum foil, then place them on the lowest shelf of you fridge for four to eight hours.
Pork Ribs

Step 3. Preparing the Smoke: Here's a trick a lot of folks who own a gas grill have never heard of. If your grill has removable flame deflectors, you can usually flip them over to make a little tray to hold a smoker pouch. Check with your grill's manufacturer to make sure before you try this, it's well worth the effort. If your flame deflectors do not come off, I do not recommend you try to follow this next section before checking your owner's manual to see how your grill's manufacturer suggest you smoke in your grill. Failure to do so means you risk damaging your grill or injuring yourself. So, before you fire up the grill, flip your deflector and get an estimate of how large a surface area you have. This will determine the size of your smoker pouches. Smoker pouches are little aluminum foil bags filled with hardwood chips soaked to retard their burn rate. You can pick up small bags of hardwood chips in the barbeque supply section of most grocers. For pork, I prefer hickory chips because of the wood's distinctive tanginess and sweet bite. Take your woodchips and place them in a large glass or plastic container. Now, fill the container with water until the chips start to float. In a 5 gallon plastic bucket, that's about 1 gallon. Add 1/2 cup bourbon for each gallon of water. Now comes the hard part, let the chips soak for at least an hour. While you wait, cut several pieces of aluminum foil about 1 foot square. After the chips have absorbed your liquid mixture, scoop out a couple of handfuls of the chips onto a square of foil, and wrap up a pouch about the size of your flame deflector. Flip over your pouch and poke several vent holes.
Grilling with smoke Smoked Hickory Chips Grilling

Step 4. Preparing the Liquor: Okay, calm down you booze hounds, in this case liquor refers to the aromatic liquid we are using to "wet smoke" our ribs. This method of smoking imparts unique flavors and helps keep the meat moist and tender. In a small cast iron fry pan or pot, mix 1 to 2 quarts water, 1 cup bourbon, 1 12oz bottle pilsner beer, 1 sliced large yellow onion, 8 chopped cloves of garlic, 1 table spoon dried sweet basil, and 1 table spoon dried parsley.
Jim Beam, Budweiser, Chopped Onion Wet Smoke Ribs on the Grill

All righty now, we are prepared. So, while we wait for the ribs to cold cure, enjoy a stogie and one of those "left over" pilsners from the six pack. But do not drink too many, because we are going to be playing with fire soon. 
Cigar & Guinness

Break's up, time to get to grillin'!


Step 5. Heat the Grill: You want to sear the outside quickly to lock in the juices, so high heat is important at the start of the cooking process. That being the case, fire your grill up to "High" on all burners and close the lid. Depending on your grill you should be ready to sear your ribs in anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. What you are looking for is getting to your grill's maximum temperature, somewhere north of 650 degrees Fahrenheit. While the grill heats, it's time to gather our liquor pot, smoker pouches, and ribs, then bring everything out to the grill.

Step 6. Gentlemen, Start your grillin!: Once your grill is up to max temp, it's time to start the show. Carefully place your ribs meat side down on your grill and leave them undisturbed for a couple of minutes. Watch for flame ups. If a flame up starts under the meat, and it lasts more then a few seconds, I like to quell the flame by using a cheap spray bottle filled with plain tap water. A couple of quick spritzes will usually do the trick. After you sear the meat side, flip you ribs bone side down and turn off the burners under them. We are now going to use indirect heat to finish the slow cooking process.
BBQ Ribs on the Grill Slow Cooked BBQ Ribs

Step 7. Smoke 'em if You Got 'em!: Place your smoker pouch on your burner deflector of choice, but make sure it's the one that still has a flame under it.

Step 8. Get Liquored Up!: Replace the grill over the burner that has smoker pouch on it and place you liquor pot over the heat. 

Step 9. Now the Hard Part, Take Two: Close the lid and walk away. After about a half hour, lift the lid and check to see how much liquid is left in your liquor pot and chips in your smoker pouch. Replace the pouch and/or add water to your pot if needed. At one hour, turn the ribs 180 degress to assure even cooking. Close the lid and repeat this process for as long as it takes, usually no more then four hours, depending on how thick the ribs are and how much heat your grill produces. After two hours, you need to check doneness. Using your meat thermometer of choice ( I prefer either a small "quick read" or an electronic remote probe type) check the internal temperature of your ribs by inserting the probe in the thickest section, being careful not to strike the bone. Hitting the bone and taking a reading there will give you a false high reading. Now, I know the Pork Counsel says you can enjoy today's pork at a medium done internal temperature of 160 degrees, but I still recommend a well done temperature of 170 degrees. So, if your ribs are at 167 degrees, you are ready to eat, almost. Why 3 degrees lower then recommended? Well, the mass of the meat will carry over some heat that will continue to penetrate, carrying on the cooking process. The trick here is to allow this process to continue, but not over shoot your desired level. So, at 167, remove the ribs and place them on your trusty, clean cutting board, cover them with some aluminum foil, and let them "relax" for 5 to 10 minutes. During this time, juices that were forced out of the meat during cooking and are sitting between the fibers will be reabsorbed, making for a moister rib. Now that's a nice bonus, isn't it? Oh, and if you haven't hit 167 while they are on the grill, leave the ribs there and keep checking every half hour till you do.
Digital Meat Thermometer Oh My God! OMG BBQ Ribs


That's it! Cut up and serve! If you like, you can present barbeque sauce as a side condiment, but I would suggest trying the taste first, you might find you don't need it. If you feel you must "cook" a barbeque sauce onto the ribs, wait until the last 5 minutes that you plan on leaving the ribs on the grill. The sugars in most store bought barbeque sauce will burn very quickly, so you do not want to leave it over heat for very long. 

As for serving suggestions, I do a traditional mix of roasted corn on the cob, done on the grill along with the ribs, brine baked potatoes (a quickie recipe I'll post in the forum), tri-color macaroni salad (another quickie recipe), and lemonade. Oh, and you can also use up the last of that left over pilsner beer as a beverage too. 

I'm sure Denahue can suggest a good wine to go with these ribs, and since ribs are among the "two fisted eating method" foods, I wouldn't suggest trying to enjoy a stogie till after you're done.

Whew! Dang, that's one long post! I promise not all will be this long. But, after suffering too many bland, dry, or otherwise badly done ribs, I felt this one needed to be walked from the cradle to the grave. If you have any comments about my grilling style, or want to add your take, please feel free to email me at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text36473 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //-->\n This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


© 2006, Kevin Godbee & Rick McLaughlin.

Re-print with permission only.
To get permission, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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