Saturday, July 26, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

A summer primer to grilling backyard barbecue ribs

Food American Table Memphis Style Ribs

This May 5, 2014, photo shows Memphis-style baby back ribs in Concord, N.H. Back ribs usually are sold in either full slabs (13 ribs) or half slabs (7 ribs), and are the most expensive cut of rib. When they come from a pig that was less than a year old, they are referred to as “baby” back ribs. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

By
From page B7 | July 16, 2014 |

It was one of those culinary epiphanies. I realized you rarely get great barbecued ribs from a restaurant. They have to come from backyards.

My rib-awakening came during the world’s largest barbecue contest, Memphis in May. All it took was that first bite of a grill-smoked rib for me to recognize the real deal. There is nothing like homemade ribs.

And here is the dirty little secret: They don’t take nearly as long as the competition guys would like you to think they do. And they are much simpler to prepare than legend has it.

The most popular ribs to cook are back ribs, but spareribs and St. Louis-style ribs are gaining traction, too. Back ribs are cut from high up on the rib near the spine. Back ribs are meaty, leaner than spareribs and very flavorful. This is the area of the pig from which the tenderloin is cut.

Back ribs usually are sold in either full slabs (13 ribs) or half slabs (7 ribs), and are the most expensive cut of rib. When they come from a pig that was less than a year old, they are referred to as “baby” back ribs. True baby back ribs generally weigh 1 to 1½ pounds each, which makes them difficult to cook on the grill because they have so little meat.

Spareribs are cut from the belly or side of the pig. Spareribs are longer and fatter than back ribs. While they have less meat, many parts of the country prefer them and the St. Louis-style cut is gaining in popularity. The St. Louis cut is a sparerib trimmed to remove the flap of meat on the underside of the breast bone and squared off to more easily fit on the grill.

Once you decide which type of rib to buy, there are a few things to remember when purchasing your meat. First, make sure each slab weighs at least 2 pounds and that the ribs have a nice layer of meat covering the bone. Slabs of ribs that are factory-cut often have “bone shine,” or areas of the rack where the blade hit the bone and cut off all the meat.

Second, buy the best quality, freshest product available. This is especially true with meat and there is a wide range of product in the marketplace. If you have a local butcher who cuts the meat, frequent his or her shop. He’ll give you tips on cooking, can cut meat to order, and can special order meat.

If you don’t have a local butcher, go to a grocer that has high traffic and keeps the meat case rotated with fresh product every day. Beyond that, be sure to look at the expiration date on the label and give your purchases the old-fashioned smell test. If it smells “off” or a little funny, then it is probably old. I prefer buying ribs that are vacuum sealed, as they generally are the freshest choice.

The next decision that you have to make is whether or not to remove the silver skin. Along the back (non-meaty) side of a slab of ribs there is a smooth covering or membrane that holds the ribs together. It is often referred to as the silver skin. Some people recommend removing it, but it is purely optional.

If you leave it on, it is a good indicator of when the ribs are done because it lifts away from the meat when the meat is cooked. It is very crispy when done, looks a little like parchment paper and is slightly translucent. Many people consider it a delicacy and enjoy eating it. Many more don’t even know it is removable.

A few cooks say that leaving the membrane intact prevents the seasonings from penetrating the meat and stops the rendering of the fat. I have never found this to be true. I think it is mostly a cosmetic issue and a little known one at that. But be forewarned, if your rack of ribs has any “bone shine,” the membrane will keep the rack intact and if you remove it, your rack will likely fall apart.

The final thing that you need to know is that the best way to test for doneness is to make sure that the meat has receded from the ends of the bones and that you can bend the rack without breaking it in pieces. And remember that the only way the meat will fall off the bone is if you par-boil them first (just say no!) or if you way over-cook them. The best ribs should be tender, but have a little “chew” left.

MEMPHIS-STYLE BABY BACK RIBS

This is my version of the ribs that won a Memphis in May barbecue contest a few years back. The guys who made them took me under their wings and taught me everything they knew – or so they said – about barbecuing baby backs. Their secret was marinating the ribs in lemon juice before seasoning them with a commercial spice rub. I’ve streamlined their process with cut lemons and a homemade rub.

Start to finish: 2 hours 45 minutes (30 minutes active)

Servings: 6

6 pounds baby back ribs

3 cups barbecue woodchips, soaked in water for 1 hour

2 lemons, halved

¼ cup barbecue rub (see recipe below)

16-ounce bottle barbecue sauce

Prepare a grill for medium-low (about 325 F) indirect cooking. In a charcoal grill, this means banking the hot coals to one side of the grill and cooking the ribs on the cooler side. In a gas grill, this means heating the grill with all burners on, but turning off the burners on one side just before putting the food on that side.

Remove silver skin from the backs of the ribs, if desired.

Place the soaked wood chips directly on the hot charcoals, or in smoking box if using a gas grill (place the box in the grill according to manufacturer directions). Cover the grill.

Rub the cut lemons all over the fronts and backs of the ribs, squeezing to release as much juice as possible. Set aside for 5 minutes, then sprinkle the ribs liberally with the barbecue rub. Let sit for 15 minutes.

Place the ribs, bone side down, in the center of the cooking grate over the cooler side of the grill. Cover the grill and cook 1½ to 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and has pulled back from the ends of the bones. Do not open the grill cover for at least the first 30 minutes. After that, if the ribs start to burn at the edges, stack them on top of one another in the very center of the grill and lower your heat slightly.

Twenty minutes before serving, un-stack the ribs if necessary, then brush with barbecue sauce. Remove the ribs from the grill and let rest 10 minutes before cutting into individual or 2- to 3-rib portions.

If desired, additional barbecue sauce can be warmed and served alongside the ribs.

Nutrition information per serving: 1,410 calories; 970 calories from fat (69 percent of total calories); 107 g fat (40 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 365 mg cholesterol; 31 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 22 g sugar; 73 g protein; 1,510 mg sodium.

CLASSIC BARBECUE RUB

Start to finish: 5 minutes

Makes 1½ cups

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons chili powder

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well. For a smoother rub, process the ingredients in a spice grinder until well combined and finely ground. The rub can be stored in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Nutrition information per 2 teaspoons: 10 calories; 0 calories from fat (0 percent of total calories); 0 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 2 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 0 g protein; 320 mg sodium.

Elizabeth Karmel is a grilling and Southern foods expert and executive chef at Hill Country Barbecue Market restaurants in New York and Washington, as well as Hill Country Chicken in New York. She is the author of three cookbooks, including “Pizza on the Grill.”

Elizabeth Karmel

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Large party to honor entry into Army

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
 
County releases Solano whistleblower investigations

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3

Crashes snarl Friday traffic on Interstate 80

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Abrams to speak at Democratic Club meet

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Suisun City police log: July 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Fairfield police log: July 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Physical activity may diminish fatigue

By Scott Anderson | From Page: B10

Share nature’s bounty with others

By Murray Bass | From Page: B10

 
Weather for Saturday, July 26, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B11

 
.

US / World

US: Russia is firing across border into Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Police still investigating after burglar killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

What happened? The day Flight 17 was downed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Large Sandy-struck family splits $20M lottery win

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

BART station reopens after reported bomb threat

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
California county sues over subdivision slide

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Wildfire forces evacuation of rural NorCal homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Ex-Bell councilwoman gets 2 years for corruption

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Database details California school employee pay

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California state senator facing additional charge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Designer: Bay Bridge bolts don’t need replacing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Pelvis pix victims must feel trauma to share $190M

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Sheriff: 300 homes burned in Washington wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Taiwan plane survivor crawls out, phones dad

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Teams converge on remote site to probe plane crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Former CIA officials can’t see ‘torture’ report

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Same-sex marriage ban struck down for Miami area

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Migrants: Obama urges Latin leaders, GOP to help

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Gaza sides agree to lull but truce efforts stall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Ebola outbreak spreads to 4th West African country

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

.

Opinion

Top 3 ways to impress an employer

By Deon Price | From Page: A8

 
Editorial Cartoons: July 26, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Ranchers coming around on global warming

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A8

 
Immersion kindergarten class in jeopardy

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Cheers, jeers for the week of July 20-26, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Today in History for July 26, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: July 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes for July 26, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
I’m not attracted to my husband since he’s gained weight

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

.

Entertainment

Sam Raimi announces planned ‘The Last of Us’ film

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Nolan, McConaughey surprise with ‘Interstellar’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Comic-Con gets first look at ‘Mockingjay’ trailer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Bazinga! ‘Big Bang Theory’ writers hit Comic-Con

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Scientists make love, war weapons in ‘Manhattan’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Puig, Dodgers go triple-crazy, beat Giants 8-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Forces strong during NHRA qualifying at Sonoma Raceway

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Fairfield Expos bats come alive in 13-2 win

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1

 
Raiders brimming with optimism at start of camp

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

49ers ready to fill big void for injured Bowman

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Dallas Cowboys LB McClain convicted in Alabama

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Horsey in halfway lead at Russian Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
7-shot lead for Langer at Senior British Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Furyk, Petrovic, share Canadian Open lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
US rebounds to win twice in International Crown

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Hammel 0-3 for A’s after 4-1 loss to Rangers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
With Nibali in command, Tour is about 2nd place

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

FIFA rejects calls to strip Russia of World Cup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Marshawn Lynch missing as Seahawks camp begins

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Saturday, July 26, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

NASCAR drivers want changes on the schedule

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
.

Business

Fast food workers prepare to escalate wage demands

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Orders for US durable goods up 0.7 percent in June

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Russian execs fear lasting damage from plane crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Global tensions don’t dent enthusiasm for stocks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Feds probe Dodge Charger alternator complaints

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Towering worry: Small holes cause big jitters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

McNuggets pulled from sale in HK after meat scare

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
US to evaluate Impala air bag performance

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Family feud sparks revolt at grocery store chain

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Obituaries

Pamela Dixon

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Mary Bell Scrivner Sanders

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Arturo Montenegro

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Mary Spingola Stagnaro

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
.

Home Seller 07/26/14

Real estate transactions for July 26, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2

Citation Northern offers new Madison Lane homes

By Barry Eberling | From Page: HSR2

Average US 30-year mortgage rate at 4.13 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR2