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Monday, February 07, 2005

For their pleasure, ribs

I've only made baby back ribs twice in my life, but each time people have told me that they are the "best ribs they've ever had". Possibly it's polite flattery, likely it's more to do with the fact that both times I've served them late at night, when only the hard-core partiers are still around, and everyone is up for a snack of any kind. Either way...

Here's the process I use. Note that the preparation takes a long time. You can't just whip these up on a whim. You've gotta plan a little here.

One rack of baby back ribs (you can usually find them vacuum sealed in the supermarket)
Bottle of BBQ sauce*

1. Day one, peel and chop. Remove the membrane from the back side of the ribs. This is a thin, tough sheet of something that the pig found necessary to grow, but that we don't want to eat. Some rib places will leave it on, I don't like it. So, get a good hold on one end and peel it off; it should come off in one piece. Cut the ribs into four pieces (roughly, 5 ribs each section).

2. Marinade. Put the ribs in a glass or ceramic dish (or even plastic bags). Cover with BBQ sauce, but be sure to save some BBQ sauce for later. If you can't cover the ribs, don't worry - just come by and mix them up a couple of times to ensure that all the meat gets some sauce time. Refrigerate overnight (8 hours or so). If time is a concern, you might be able to skip this step, or cut it down to just a few hours.

3. Day two, low and slow. After they've marinated. Wrap each section of ribs in foil, fairly tightly - with a little of the BBQ sauce from the marinade in each. I wrap them two or three times each - don't want them leaking all over the oven. Put them on a foil-lined cookie sheet (because they'll leak no matter what), and into a 225 degree oven for three hours. Low and slow is the key to that fall-off-the-bone texture. Remove from oven and refrigerate until needed.

4. When you're ready to eat them, heat a grill to medium-high. Take each section of ribs out of its foil, clean off any blobs of fat that might be sticking to it (most of the fat will have cooked out of the meat and congealed in the foil). Put a little BBQ sauce on the ribs and grill for a few minutes each side - just enough to give them some color, some grill marks, and to heat through.

5. Serve to hungry drunkards.

That's it.

* - I prefer Bone Suckin Sauce.

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