A perfectly cooked rack of pork ribs is always a treat. They are so easy to make and a great addition to your barbecue on a summer weekend. So if you are planning to host the perfect feast in your backyard, here are ten tips that will leave your guests with the memory of finger licking good ribs.
1. Take your time
Making the perfect ribs will take a few hours as well as dedication since they need low, slow cooking time to become juicy and tender. There is also quite a prep time required, so make sure your gourmet friends don’t turn up too early.
2. Choose your meat
There are three different types to choose from when buying your ribs. The first is baby back ribs cut from the upper ribs high on the back of the pig. Baby back ribs are very tender and lean and are shorter compared to spare ribs with a stronger meat-to-bone ratio.
Spare ribs are the meaty cut from the belly farther down the pig hence the bones are longer, so the meat-to-bone ratio is lower. Also, there are St. Louis-Style ribs which are basically trimmed spare ribs but with a higher amount of fat for juicier taste than the ribs above.
Whichever cut you choose, make sure to get ribs with an equal layer of meat all over so that they cook evenly.
3. Prep your ribs
Once you have your rack of ribs, you must remove the thin, chewy membrane covering the bones to get all flavours of seasoning on both sides of the slab. To remove the membrane in one piece, simply use a knife or finger to get between the bone and membrane and pull it back.
4. Apply your rub
To season, simply coat the ribs with a sprinkle of coarse salt and your favourite rub. Keep in mind that the first dry rub that goes on the ribs should have a very low sugar content since sugar burns fairly fast and will create a bitter, unpleasant taste. Once you have applied your rub, cover the ribs and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours to allow the seasonings to fully flavour the meat.
5. Choose your firewood
Since smoke is the soul of barbecue choose your premium firewood wisely. A fruitwood such as apple or pear is an excellent choice, as is mild vintage ironbark. Premium ironbark firewood creates little smoke and is a slow-burning wood – thus perfect for your succulent ribs. When your cooker comes to temperature, merely add four logs of wood to the charcoal for the perfect amount of smoke.
6. Cook your ribs
Heat your grill up to at a temperature of 225f and place your ribs on the rack, bone side down. Try not to cook them over direct heat, as this will dry the meat out instead put them where they receive indirect smoke and heat from the flame. As a rough rule of thumb, baby back ribs will cook for approximately 4 hours while St. Louis cut ribs will be done in around 5 hours. The ribs are done to perfection when the meat pulls back from the end of the bone about one-third.
7. Use a drip pan
Place a drip pan on the grill grate under your ribs to reduce flare-ups and burned meat.
8. Get juicy results
Apple cider is great for tenderising any meat. Continue to baste your ribs regularly while grilling to keep them moist and flavoursome.
9. Wrap your ribs
For the fall-off-the-bone lovers, wrap the ribs loosely in a big sheet of foil after about two hours cooking time. Add some liquid like honey, barbecue sauce, beer or even butter to the packet before placing the ribs back on the grill to allow the steam to tenderise the meat even more and add an extra layer of flavour.
10. Sauce your ribs
If you want sticky glazed ribs, only apply barbecue sauce during the final 15 minutes of cooking to prevent sugar burn. Watch your ribs carefully while the sauce caramelises and seals all the beautiful flavours before removing them from the grill. Allow them to rest for 5 minutes, and apply another thin coating of sauce before serving your perfect rack of ribs.