Thursday, December 2, 2010

City Ribs So Tender You'll Forget to Take Pictures of Them When They're Done

I like to eat ribs. But when one doesn't have the space/cash wherewithal to have a smoker or a Big Green Egg, one develops a good substitute that results in really nice, tender meat. What do you need for this method? Just a bunch of plastic wrap, some foil and an oven. Oh, and ribs, plus whatever you want to flavor them with (if anything at all, because, as we all know, pork tastes pretty good itself).

Take your ribs (last batch I had was a couple racks of baby backs from my beloved Gene's, and was cut with a generous portion of the loin still attatched, making them the meatiest baby back ever, with apologies to whoever ended up with the loin itself after me) and rub them with salt & pepper, then whatever else you want. I used dried oregano, ancho chile powder, cumin and smoked paprika, among other things. Cut them in half if space requires. Wrap them tightly, a few times, in plastic wrap, then in foil, and put them in a pan in the oven as low as it'll go. This will be somewhere around 225. Leave them in there for awhile; I left these meaty ones in overnight, which that night was about midnight to 6am. It might not take that long for yours. The ribs essentially braise in their own juices, low and slow. Poke a knife through the foil when you think it's done. If it's tender, it's done. Don't over think it.
I finished mine on the little smoky joe on the fire escape, city style--just to get some sort of smoke going, and then glazed them with a reduction of apple cider, thyme and guajillo chile. Things stay really moist this way...and it's a great substitute for the big smoker. (When I lived in Atlanta, there was a church that had a big crocodile-shaped smoker parked out front all the time. It was easily 30 feet long, and nasty looking as all get out. Whatever church-goer made that had some serious welding skills, and certainly smoking skills to match.)

At any rate, give this method a try. It works with anything you want to make tender and falling apart, like pork butt. Don't worry about the plastic. It doesn't melt into a weird liquid--it just gets more firm and sticks to the foil, not the meat. Of course, you could sous-vide things, given the right size equipment and a beer cooler full of hot water, but then, if you're the kind of person sous-vide-ing things, you probably already have a system down.