Barbecue is a science. A well calibrated, down to the last measured granule of spice and sugar, low and slow cooking type of science. The spice part, I’ve got down. Since that’s not the only step in this tested and true science of barbecuing, I had to call in reinforcements and consult the Pit Master.
First off, thank you to the bestest of friends, for letting me descend on their house with pounds of ribs, jars of spices and then letting me play 20 (bazillion) questions on a Sunday afternoon. First question you have to ask is “smoked or grilled?” We did smoked. The difference is whether or not your meat is over an open flame (grilled) or in a two part pit where the fire supplies an indirect heat and rolling smoke to cook the meat (smoked).
Second question you have to ask is “what kind of wood do you use?” That is up to the Pit Master. They have very serious opinions about this. The wood plays just as much importance in the flavor of the final product as the spices do.
Third question is “Sauce or dry rub?” This choice provides an incredible range of flavors. Saucy ribs can be sweet, savory or spicy. They are wet, sticky and keep paper towels busy between bites. Dry rubs also provide a wide range of sweet to spicy flavors. Dry rubs join together with time, smoke and pork fat to give a perfect ratio of flavor and the Pit Master’s personal style. We went with dry rub.
Now, we have provided answers to the three greatest questions in barbecuing: 1. Smoke or grilled? 2. What kind of wood? 3. Sauce or dry rub? We moved on to the barbecue science part.
You have to trim the ribs, like you would any meat choice on the pit. After trimming off the excess fat, you flip them over and take the iridescent gristle off. It’s not mandatory, but it does minimize the gristle taste and texture once cooked. After everything is trimmed, pat dry with a paper towel and then get it wet with some mustard. The mustard gives the surface just enough moisture to hold the dry rub and doesn’t affect the flavor that much. Note: you can use water here if you don’t like mustard.
Despite me saying this is a science, the minute the meat goes in the smoker, it goes from science to magic. The smoking, the timing, even the humidity outside can influence every delicious taste the final product has to offer and the only person who can spot that is the Pit Master. He is a magic Merlin with tested and true skills. For hours, I would come out and ask “are we there yet?” then go back inside and laugh with my girlfriend as we prepped the sides. I would go back out and he finally said “Almost”. I thought that meant time to eat. It wasn’t. It was legit, just an almost. So, I stood there chatting about missing football, playing ball with the dogs and asking more questions that this particular post could handle. He answered, laughed (at me) and still made effortless movements to correct for summer winds and the heat escaping when he lifted the hood to allow me time to get great pictures.
“Are we there yet?” became, “they’re ready” and just like that, this barbecue was in b’ness.
You’ll notice around the edges is a darker red line. Guess what, that’s not spice. It’s a “smoke line”. That is what you get when magic meets science and flavor melds with meat. This is one of those moments when good food, good friends and good times are just as much a priceless balance as anything we do.
Barbeque may not be the road to world peace, but it’s a start.
GOOD FOOD. GOOD FRIENDS. GOOD TIMES.
Mouthwatering Pork Ribs with Dry RubPrint This
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup garlic salt
- 1/2 cup smoked paprika
- 1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 Tablespoon chili powder
- 1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 2-4 racks of pork ribs (we used St Louis cut)
- mustard to taste
- Pull out your brown sugar and measure onto a sheet of parchment paper. Let it dry for a couple of hours in a cool dry place.
- Once brown sugar has rested, mix all spices together in a jar with a resealable lid.
- Trim ribs
- Cover rib racks in mustard and sprinkle dry rub mixture on thick. Shake excess off.
- Lay on pit racks and cook, grill or smoke until core temperature reaches a safe 145F.
- Eat. Lots!
Thank you C’s D.