Welcome to Perfect Your Pork Ribs – Part Two. This is the second part of a two-part series of articles where I discuss How To Perfect Your Pork Ribs. In this article we’ll be looking at Preparing, Smoking, and Presenting your ribs. If you haven’t caught Part One yet, you can catch up here.
4. Perfect your Pork Ribs – Preparing
Many postmasters will recommend using Mustard to stick the rub to the meat. This is because the acidic nature of the mustard will ‘open up’ the meat to let the flavours be absorbed. Others will recommend using a small amount of oil. Personally, I don’t use either. I find the moisture in the meat is enough to stick the rub to the meat.
Injecting the intercostal meat…
Some people will mix up an injection and insert it between the ribs. This is a great idea if you’re heading to comps but unnecessary when you’re cooking at home.
I like to go heavy with a sweet, hot rub. I will sprinkle on some rub and pat it down and wait until I see the moisture show through the rub and then I’ll put on a second layer.
A tip for competitors is to match your flavours with your judges – if you’re competing in a rural area, don’t go too overboard with your flavour profiles.
5. Perfect your Pork Ribs – Cooking
The ‘Basting’ phase…
There are two main schools of thought when it comes to cooking ribs. There’s the 3-2-1 Method, and the Hot’n’Fast Method.
The 3-2-1 Method originated in the United States. It is done at 225F with 3 hours uncovered, followed by 2 hours wrapped in foil with unsalted butter, honey and brown sugar. The ribs are then finished off with one hour unwrapped and glazed with a BBQ sauce.
This is widely accepted as THE way to do ribs, but there is something very important that you need to remember if you’re doing ribs in Australia. That is, the pork ribs in America where this method was developed, are a lot, and I mean a LOT larger than the ribs we get here. On average, the pigs are butchered when they are literally twice the size that they are here in Australia.
What this means is that you will need to adjust this method to suit each rack of ribs. For instance, instead of 3-2-1, you might find you need to do 2-1-1 or even 1.5-1-0.5. It will take a little bit of experimentation but once you’ve got it, you’ll be able to just look at a rack of pork ribs and know exactly how long to smoke them for.
The Hot-n-Fast Method has many variations as well. It basically involves upping the temperature, not foiling the ribs, and just letting them ride before glazing 10 minutes before the end. I don’t use this method as I really love adding organic honey and cane sugar to the flavour profile in the foil stage. One extreme example is putting the heat up until 450F and smoking the ribs for 1 hour before saucing, giving them another ten minutes and serving. You can find more about this method here.
6. Perfect your Pork Ribs – Presenting
Stacked ‘n’ Cadillac’d…
If you’re cooking Pork ribs at home, then this isn’t too important. Just run a knife between the bones, aiming for dead centre between the bones to make sure everybody gets a nice amount of meat on their ribs.
If you’re cooking at comps, go for the ‘Cadillac Cut’. This involves picking a bone that you want to hand in, and then slicing hard against the bones on either side of that bone, so that the bone you want to hand in will have the full amount of intercostal meat on either side. This will sacrifice more of your ribs, but it gives the judges more meat to try and importantly, gives you two big chances to the ‘perfect bite’.
Finally, it seems wasteful, but if you can fit them, put more than six ribs in the box. It gives the impression to the judges that you’ve been very generous and it looks impressive. And don’t worry too much about the wastage – having been an official at several competitions, I can assure you that those extra ribs will find a good home once the judges have had theirs!