I was grocery shopping at the usual place a little while ago and noticed a nice looking package of pork ribs sitting there, marked down for a quick sale. Now, I know ribs take a while to cook, and I wasn’t going to have that while for several days, so I bought them and hurried them home to the freezer to wait for a better day.
The ribs in question were St Louis style pork ribs. That means, they have had a little more meat left on the bones and make a satisfying meal. The problem with these particular ribs was that they have been packaged at a factory somewhere, shrink wrapped and sealed in heavy plastic with lots of liquid that is supposed to keep them moist and juicy. Problem is, they just turn out wet and flabby. Never fear, there is a solution. But it takes a couple of days of planning.
If you freeze them, take them out of the freezer two days before cooking and put them in the refrigerator to thaw. If not frozen, proceed to step two.
The day before you cook them, take them out of the plastic, give them a quick rinse and squeeze to get all that slimy stuff off them then proceed to trim the extra fat. Turn them bone side up and make sure the silverskin has been pulled off. This is a pearly membrane that will keep any flavoring from penetrating and be tough and chewy. If it’s still there, slide a paring knife under it along a bone on one end and lift up and pull all the way off. Using a paper towel to grab it makes it easier to pull.
Now comes the part to firm things up and get it ready to season. Put the ribs on a cookie sheet or, as I do, cut them in half and put both halves in a casserole dish big enough to hold them. Now put them in the refrigerator UNCOVERED for a day until an hour and a half or so before cooking time. This allows the air to circulate over them and dry out all that extra moisture that has been added.
The rub I use is from Weber’s Big Book of Grilling and it is called Al Roker’s Rub
1/4 cups dark brown sugar
2 Tbl Kosher Salt
2 Tbl freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbl Adobo sauce*
1 Tbl Paprika
1 Tbl Chili Powder
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp Allspice
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, then press or rub all over the ribs. Put them back in the refrigerator for am hour or so until ready to cook. Low and slow is the ticket, indirect heat between 250 and 300 degrees for an hour and a half or so. You’ll know they’re about done when the meat starts pulling back, exposing the ends of the bones.
Serve with lots of paper towels to clean your face and hands between bites.
*Adobo sauce is the tomato based sauce that is in the little cans of Chipotle in Adobo you can buy, (chipotle chilis are smoked jalapeños) and this gives the rub moisture to hold together and stick to the ribs. Warning–it does make the mix hot and spicy!
We’ll talk about the jalapenos another time. 😌