Food & Drink

Ribs, Ribs and more ribs: A Memorial Day Favorite

In the Kitchen with Nina: Don't be intimidated, there are several ways to make finger-licking good ribs

Memphis-style Dry Ribs. Photographed in Robins on Monday, May 21, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Memphis-style Dry Ribs. Photographed in Robins on Monday, May 21, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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Ribs, glorious ribs! When ribs are prepared correctly, they are undoubtedly finger-licking good. It’s almost impossible to not use your fingers when eating ribs and it’s certainly an acceptable way to eat them for sure.

Many people stay away from preparing them because they believe it’s too difficult, but once you know a few tricks, you’ll be a “pro” in no time.

There are basically three types of ribs that you can purchase from nearly every grocery store. The type of ribs depends on where they originate on the pig. Back ribs originate from the blade and center section of the pork loin, which is known for the “finger meat” between the bones. Back ribs also are referred to as “baby” back ribs because they are smaller than spareribs. Popular cooking methods for baby back ribs are barbecue, roasting and slow-cooking.

Spareribs come from the belly of the hog and are known for their delicious, meaty pork flavor. These ribs are the least meaty variety of ribs, but full of flavor. Spareribs are typically larger and heavier than back ribs. St. Louis style ribs are spareribs with the sternum bone, cartilage and rib tips removed to create a rectangular-shaped rack.

Country-style ribs are cut from the sirloin or rib end of the pork loin. The meatiest variety of ribs, country-style ribs are perfect for those who want to use a knife and fork. Popular cooking methods for country-style ribs include grilling, roasting and slow-cooking.

Ribs are commonly prepared either using “wet” or “dry” methods. Ribs rubbed with a mixture of herbs and spices are called “dry” ribs. Rubs can be applied just before barbecuing or up to eight hours in advance, then the ribs are kept refrigerated. Ribs that are brined, marinated or basted with sauces during the barbecuing process are called “wet” ribs.

Using aromatic woods such as hickory, mesquite, apple, or cherry added to the preheated gas grills or hot charcoals give the meat an additional layer of distinctive smoky flavor.

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I lived in the West Indies right after college, so I grew to love the flavor combinations coming out of that region of the world. These West Indian Brined Barbecue Pork Ribs are so tantalizing — layers of flavor upon layers of flavor. Try them for your next gathering. If you like lots of sauce, you can double the sauce recipe.

Memphis-style ribs don’t mess around with a lot of sugary BBQ sauces. Instead, they use full-flavored mixtures of herbs and spices with just a touch of brown sugar for sweetness. The rub is massaged into the meat right before grilling, and additional rub is sprinkled on the ribs at the end of cooking. This double application of spices creates incredible character and depth of flavor, while at the same time preserving the natural taste of the pork.

I love this flavor combination of Sweet, Spicy, and Smoky Spareribs and the honey just brings it all together in a sweet way.

All three of my rib recipes are baked in the oven for the first two hours or so, then finished on the grill for extra flavor and browning.

The ribs are done when the ends of the bones protrude, and the meat is tender enough to pull apart with your fingers or until ribs are browned, fork-tender, and meat pulls away from end of bone.

Serve any of these ribs with fresh sliced tomatoes, coleslaw, grilled corn and sliced icy cold watermelon.

Memphis-style Dry Ribs

 

Makes about 4 servings

  • 3 1/2 to 4 pounds pork ribs (“baby” back)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground ancho chili pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups hickory chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place ribs in a shallow roasting pan lined with aluminum foil. In a small bowl combine smoked paprika, brown sugar, chili pepper, salt, coriander, dry mustard, garlic powder, celery salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Reserve about 1 teaspoon of the rub. Generously sprinkle the remaining rub mixture over both sides of ribs; rub in with your fingers. Cover pan with more foil. Bake ribs, for 2 hours or until very tender. During the same time that the ribs are in the oven, soak wood chips in enough water to cover. After baking the ribs for 1 1/2 hours in the oven, preheat grill to 400 degrees. Drain wood chips and place wood chips in two to three pieces of aluminum foil to create packets. Poke packets several times with a fork. Place packets on grill. Close lid and wait until wood chips begin to smoke (about 20 to 30 minutes). Place ribs on the grill; close lid and grill for 20 minutes or until ribs are browned, turning once. Sprinkle on the reserved spice rub and serve.

Source: Nina Swan-Kohler

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Sweet, Spicy, and Smoky Spareribs

 

Makes about 4 servings.

  • 3 1/2 to 4 pounds pork spareribs or St. Louis-style spareribs
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper (dry)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup honey (heated until liquid)
  • 2 cups hickory chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place ribs in a shallow roasting pan lined with aluminum foil; set aside. In small bowl, combine paprika, salt, oregano, cumin, chipotle pepper, garlic powder and onion powder together; sprinkle generously over both sides of ribs. Cover pan with more foil. Bake ribs for 2 hours or until very tender. During the same time that the ribs are in the oven, soak wood chips in enough water to cover. After baking the ribs for 1 1/2 hours in the oven, preheat grill to 400 degrees. Drain wood chips and place wood chips in two pieces of aluminum foil to create packets. Poke packets several times with a fork. Place packets on grill. Close lid and wait until wood chips begin to smoke (about 20 to 30 minutes). Place ribs on the grill; close lid and grill for 20 minutes. Drizzle warm honey on both sides and grill for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Source: Nina Swan-Kohler

West Indian Brined Barbecue Pork Ribs

 

Makes about 4 servings

  • 3 1/2 to 4 pounds pork ribs (St. Louis-style spareribs)
  • Brine
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice

Rub:

  • 2 tablespoons jerk seasonings
  • BBQ Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pureed chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark molasses

Cut slab of ribs into two pieces; place in large resealable plastic bag, set aside. Combine all brining ingredients; pour over ribs. Seal bag; refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours, turning at least twice. When ready to cook, remove ribs from brine. Place on shallow roasting pan lined with aluminum foil; sprinkle jerk seasonings on both sides of ribs. Cover pan with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours or until tender. Meanwhile, prepare sauce. In a medium saucepan, heat butter until melted over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic; saute over medium heat until onion is translucent and tender (about 5 minutes). Add rum, brown sugar, vinegar, chipotle pepper, ginger and allspice; stir to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes on low heat. Add ketchup and molasses; stir to combine and heat through. After baking ribs for 2 hours, preheat grill to 400 degrees. Place ribs on the grill; brush with glaze. Close lid and grill for 20 minutes or until ribs are browned and very tender, turning after 10 minutes. Serve with additional sauce, if desired.

Source: Nina Swan-Kohler

Nina Swan-Kohler of Robins is a home economist, culinary professional, recipe developer, cookbook author and cooking school director/instructor. She owns and operates a cooking school and teaches cooking classes in her home. To get a copy of Nina’s cooking class schedule or for more information, email nina@cookingwithnina.net or visit www.cookingwithnina.net

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