Making good ribs is undoubtedly an art. Here’s our top tips for competition style ribs from three of our favorite Pitmasters.
If you’ve ever heard of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead Goldwyn is the founder and publisher of this tell-all BBQ website. He’s the best-selling author of The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling that’s a hit with the New York Times best-seller list. He’s also quite a master at BBQ ribs and has plenty of tips for what makes great BBQ possible. Here’s what Meathead recommends for getting better rib results:
Be friends with your butcher
To get a top cut for ribs you need to have a good relationship with your neighborhood butcher. Then you can specify which part of the pork ribs you really want. When it comes to baby back ribs, these are cut from the loin meat. While most baby back ribs are pre-packed and trimmed, so you should ask your butcher to cut these ribs so they’re meatier with at least a half-inch around each rib.
Don’t boil your ribs first
As Meathead advises, ‘If you boil ’em, the terrorists win’, which seems to be a common noob mistake when cooking ribs. Even though there are many BBQ folks out there that think this is a good idea, it takes away flavor from the meat. If you have rib meat that falls off the bone it likely has been boiled first. You want meat that tugs away rather than falling off.
If you can’t beat them, Smoke Em
Meathead is a big supporter of smoking meat to get even more flavor into BBQ rib meat. But over-smoking your meat can be a big mistake. As long as you prepared your ribs with a great rub, you’ll need to learn how long smoking should occur so your meat develops a nice smoke ring. He also recommends tenderizing your ribs with another trick called The Texas Crutch. This is where you wrap them up in foil and a bit of water for an hour.
Rus Jones is a BBQ pitmaster with a long-running Youtube channel that’s dedicated to the art of BBQ. He’s also very informative on how to prepare meat for BBQ grill and obviously smoking ribs. Hence the name of his channel: Smoky Ribs BBQ. He’s shared many of his favorite recipes for ribs before but has one recipe for Texas BBQ beef plate ribs that can’t be beaten. Here are some of the pro tips Rus recommends:
Don’t remove the silverskin
According to Rus, there’s no need to remove the silver skin on the back of beef ribs since this will be cooked away by the time they’re done. Once the meat is cooked, the meat will also fall easier from the bones.
Remove the fat
Most of the meat is going to be layered on the top of the ribs but your butcher may not have removed all the fat from the meat. You want enough meat showing so that your rub sticks better to the surface.
A good Texas rub
To get the flavor of real Texas-style you’re adding a 50/50 base coat of mustard and Worcestershire sauce followed by salt, pepper, and garlic dry seasoning all over the top.
Add some hickory wood
As you start to slow cook these ribs it’s recommended to add a couple chunks of hickory wood onto your coals so the smoke into your rib meat. The chunks should be palm-sized and the first step is cooking your ribs on the cooker side of your grill for 3 hours.
It’s a wrap!
The next stage is wrapping your ribs in some heavy-duty aluminum foil to get them nice and tender. Now that the mustard and Worcestershire rub has set to a nice hard bark. The foil needs to be form-fitting but not overly tight. The point is that you preserve the color of the rib meat as well as getting better tenderness. The internal temperature needs to be between 200-210 Fahrenheit degrees. Then it’s ready to eat!
Who says the boyz have all the fun when it comes to playing BBQ pitmasters all the time. Norma Francis aka Tootsie Tomanetz isn’t a spring chicken when it comes to doing ribs the right way. At just the ripe old age of 86, she’s the head pitmaster at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington Texas. Since 1966, she started running the pit at Lexington’s Meat Market until she opened Snow’s BBQ in 2003. She’s got a few tips on what makes her whole pork spareribs so special:
Remove the membrane
You’ll want to trim the membrane on these pork ribs since this doesn’t make Toosie ribs very appealing.
Add your rub
It’s a common trait that Tootsie adds only French’s Yellow mustard to her ribs so it helps the spices stick better. This is then followed by a 50/50 mix of kosher salt and coarse black pepper mixture that is added to the ribs on both sides. Add a medium coat to get the best results.
Once your ribs go into the BBQ pit, these ribs need to cook for no more than 4 hours. After this, the mopping process starts. The mop sauce is very simple since it includes simple ingredients that Tootsie has perfected. This includes One stick of butter, half a cup of vinegar, half a cup of Worcestershire sauce, a tablespoon of Coleman’s dry mustard, and two cups of butter.
The real secret when making this mop sauce is starting with a saucepan. Then you’ll cook one whole diced purple onion with a bit of oil until the onion gets translucent. Then you add your stick of butter and let melt away to liquid followed by the white vinegar and Worcestershire and then the dry mustard. Bring it up to a simmer before adding your cool water. Then your mop sauce is ready.
Wrap it up!
These ribs need mopping every 30 minutes with your mopping mixture for the 4-hour duration that they’re cooked on the grill. You need to use Post Oak to smoke your ribs to get the authentic flavor that Snow’s BBQ is famous for. After you’ve mopped your ribs for a bit more, they’re ready to get wrapped up with aluminum foil. Now you just continue cooking them for an additional hour and a half.
You can do the bend test to see how finished your ribs will be. If they bend easily from their weight, they’re done!