I woke up this morning dreaming of ribs. It might have had something to do with my watching some TV chef boil ribs before going to bed. It was a nightmare what they did to that meat, just so they could have ribs on the table on a weeknight in under an hour. The slab was gray and gross when it came out of the pot and, I’m sorry but there are some things you don’t do fast. As Mae West said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.”
As soon as I could, I moseyed on down to my local butcher, Cleaver & Company. The great thing about going to an actual butcher instead of the grocery store is when, after you explain to them your craving, they empathize. The young man told me he didn’t have a lot of ribs left from the whole pig they had as someone special ordered the ribs but he did have a piece of 5 ribs left over that he could sell me. Perfect! It was 4 lbs of ribs, meat and fat, more than enough for one hungry woman.
I put a dry rub on and left the meat on the counter for an hour before I started building the fire. I’m a fan of Emeril Lagasse’s Rustic Rub, although I put on a much thinner layer than I would when grilling pork shoulder. Here is the recipe:
8 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons cayenne
5 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons onion powder
6 tablespoons kosher salt
2 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme
Combine all ingredients and store in an air-tight container. Yield: 2 cups
The trick is keeping the grill low and slow enough to cook the ribs, melt the fat and liquify the connective tissue. The range I was aiming for was 200 degrees F to 250 degrees F. The longer at 225 degrees, the better. This required one whole chimney starter of coals, a few unlit briquets after an hour and again at two hours. I then added half of another chimney of lit coals at hour 3. I added a few more unlit briquets at about 4 and half hours. I used two pieces of hickory chunks – the first at the start and the second after an hour. That was plenty enough smoke.
I figured 5 hours of indirect cooking based on weight and thickness and it took almost seven. The result only needed a gentle tug to come off the bone and kept some chew to the center sections of meat.
And my dog is a fan of butcher shops, too. She really enjoyed the chew I got from Cleaver and Company for her (they have a healthy selection of dog food and treats):