Food Friday: Ribs!
Let's talk a little about ribs. And more importantly, making ribs at home. We’re definitely blessed with some excellent spots to get ribs in Milwaukee: Heaven's Table, Iron Grate, Ashley's and my favorite, Speed Queen, come to mind. But learning to make a good batch at home is a good thing to add to your skill set. I do ribs a few different ways and have had some success… I know this because I've been told as much, by none other than Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. If you're going to make ribs for a rock ‘n’ roller, and one who hails from Texas, you better bring your A-game.
I did, and he stopped in the kitchen to give me his approval. Needless to say, I was in great spirits the rest of the evening. Most solid rib joints have equipment that most of us don't have at home, like a good smoker or huge smoking pit. But that doesn't mean we still can't make it happen without those things....
There's a few basic steps to making good ribs at home:
Choosing your cut. I prefer baby back ribs as opposed to spare ribs, but you do you.
Putting on a dry rub. I used Galena Street rub from Penzy's for this version, but feel free to use your favorite! I like to put my rub on for an hour or two before it hits the brine.
Wet brine. I like to make my own brine at work, but at home, I'm happy to use some Italian dressing and Chicken stock. The dressing has all the elements we need for the brine, vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices. So, after I let me ribs sit in it's dry rub for a couple hours, I let it sit in the brine for an hour or two before they see any heat.
Once the ribs have sat in the brine for a bit, it's time to start cooking. I usually put the ribs and the brine in the oven at around 250-300 degrees, but seeing as I was recently gifted a Nesco braising pan, I put it to use here and it worked well. I cooked them in the brine at 250 for about 2 hours. You don't want to overcook your ribs - "Falling off the bone" is NOT a good thing here. Once the tips of the bones start to tear away from the meat, you’re home.
To finish, I like to let my ribs cool, sauce them then give them a little time on the grill to take on some smoke.
I've had some success making my own bbq sauce as well, but for the sake of easy, when I'm at home, I like to use Sweet Baby Ray's, mixed with a couple ladles of the cooking brined we just used to bake the ribs.
So, now that the ribs have cooled and I have my sauce ready, its time to slap on some gloves and give your ribs a good rub down with the sauce. Go ahead and get your charcoals ready, and after they simmer down go ahead and put your ribs on there. You need to be careful, as the sauce on the ribs will burn if it's too hot, so set them off to the side a little, throw the cover on and let them take on the smoke for 5 to 10 minutes.
Sometimes I add a little more sauce after I take them off the grill, other times I like them semi dry, so I omit the second helping of sauce. Go with your gut on that !
There you have it, a good batch of ribs, made by you! Enjoy!