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Basics of BBQ Ribs


Know Your Ribs

There are three main cuts of ribs to be had.  They are:

Baby back ribs:  located at the top of the back, closest to the backbone.  A full slab will have 11-13 curved bones, each ranging from about 3-6” long.  They may yield only about a pound of meat total, and cook quicker than other cuts because of their delicate size.

Spare ribs: also called side ribs, these larger ribs hold excellent meat, usually considered to be more flavorful than baby back ribs.  The bones are straight and flat, come at least 11 to a slab, and will yield about 1 ½ – 2 lbs of meat.

St. Louis cut ribs:  This cut of ribs is simply a slab of spareribs with the gristly rib tips removed.   The resulting flat, evenly shaped slab is ideal for browning on a stovetop.  Also called Kansas City cut.  Typically yields 1 – 1 ½ lbs. of meat.

Temperature and Cooking Techniques

Your goal when barbecuing these ribs is to bring the internal temperature to 130 degrees.  The best way to do this, while keeping every bite tender and succulent, is to cook them low and slow.

Turn on half of your gas grill burners, close the lid, and wait until the temperature reaches 225 degrees.  Place your ribs on the side OPPOSITE the direct heating element, which will let them cook using indirect heat.  Check the temperature periodically with a meat thermometer, and remove the ribs when they have reached 130 degrees.

Time for Sauce

Barbecue sauces vary wildly, and wonderfully, by region.  Here are a few to try:

Kansas City Barbecue:  This thick, tomato-based sauce sweetened with brown sugar, molasses, or honey has come to stand as the sauce most people think of when they hear barbecue sauce.

South Carolina Mustard Sauce:  In central South Carolina, a region with a strong German heritage, barbecue sauce is not red – it’s yellow.  Pork and mustard is a natural combination here, so when you order pulled pork, it will arrive with their traditional mustard-based barbecue sauce.

Tennessee Whiskey Sauce:  The sweet and smoky flavors of whiskey or bourbon pair perfectly with a tomato-based barbecue sauce sweetened with molasses.  This sauce is a natural in the state lays claim to the Jack Daniel’s distillery.



Hi, I am April & Welcome to my food blog!

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