Sunday, March 21, 2010


My mother-in-law is here for a visit. I'm one of her fans, so it's all cool. She brought me a couple bottles of barbecue sauce from North Carolina--which is, in fact, the Mecca of barbecue.
From Ribs

I had found some St. Louis-cut ribs at a restaurant supply store in Tacoma. I'd never found those before, although I've looked for them. So naturally I bought some and threw them into the freezer. My mother-in-law's visit seems a worthy occasion for breaking out those ribs.

Ribs are a serious topic. To get the real low-down, you ought to read Smoky's primer on ribs. But the short version is this: what you generally see in the store is "baby back ribs", which are actually from the pork loin. Those ribs are tender, and you can cook them almost any way you want, because they're an extremely tender cut of meat. But the price of tender, of course, is flavour. Just like with beef, the more tender cut is also the less flavourful cut. If you want flavour, you'll get the side ribs. They're higher in fat, harder to cook, and full of connective tissues.

But you can taste them.

St. Louis cut ribs are the middle of the rack of side ribs: side ribs with each end trimmed off. So they look like a rack of "baby backs", but they've got longer, flatter bones and a lot more fat. So they're like the best of both worlds.

Of course any time you have a tough hunk of meat with a lot of connective tissues and fat, you can deal with it in a couple ways. My preferred technique is to barbecue them. That means, you'll recall, cooking them in woodsmoke at around 200F for long periods of time.

From Ribs

The hardest part is temperature control. I manage that with a good thermometer, careful control of the fire, and adjusting airflow. One invaluable tool has been my 2X4 block to prop open the grill. Propping open the lid really helps keep it cool without choking the fire right down.
From Ribs

We started them slow in the morning, covered them in mustard and some spices, and threw them on the grill. We kept an eye on them all morning, basting them with our home-made basting sauce. Around noon, we broke open one of the bottles of Carolina Treet my mother-in-law brought me. It added a little colour to those bones.
From Ribs

And since it was lunch time, we made some pizza
From Ribs

We kept stoking and basting through the afternoon, until them bones were cooked and it was time to bake something sweet onto them. So we mixed up some off-the-shelf barbecue sauces, some of our own baste, and some of the Carolina Treet to make something red and sweet. That went on those racks, and we left them in the [cooling] grill for another 30 minutes or so.

Then it was time for ribs.
From Ribs

I love ribs! We made up some potato salad from the Red Hot 'n' Blue copycat recipe, Ames threw together some killer beans, and we feasted.

Ah ribs... my mother-in-law should visit more often!

From Ribs


Ames said...

Good eatin'.

freedomnan said...

Next time you see those - buy again for you MUM's visits!

Shan said...