Good Ribs Start With a Boil

“We want Mojo pork butt in a bag,” is an unlikely dinner request to emanate from your regular backyard barbecue clientèle.

I won’t even mention “pulled chicken”.

“We want ribs,” is more likely to be the cry you may hear from your great-unwashed rabble around dinnertime.

The art of smokology may never face as fierce a debate as when the big brains expound their version of how to cook ribs. Ah, but which kind of ribs, asks Smart Guy.

Excellent question. For today, we will grapple with turning out the best baby beef and moose ribs possible without hurting ourselves or damaging the environment too badly in the process.

A local favourite, of course, would be moose ribs. Cooking a tasty moose rib feast is relatively easy to do, unless you have to shoot the moose first.

A friend of mine, I will identify only as Les Luciuk, has shot the moose first and stood stoically before the “Q” more than just a few times as moose ribs merrily smoked away on the grill.

To achieve mouthwatering, fall-off-the-bone ribs, you must first rinse, clean and put them in a Dutch Oven covered by an inch or so of a mixture of water, salt and brown sugar. Bring this to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered.

At this point it would be prudent to mention you may substitute beer for half or all of the water used for simmering the ribs.

Cook until the meat is very tender and while you wait make a sauce out of ketchup, soya sauce, Worcestershire sauce and garlic to be used later as a baste on the grill. You can substitute maple syrup for the ketchup if you prefer or use another barbecue sauce altogether.

Olive oil, paprika, cumin, celery salt, chili powder, ground ginger, cayenne pepper and dried oregano can be used in any combination in your own original homemade sauce to create a veritable plethora of rib tastes.

It will take a couple of hours to simmer five pounds of ribs and, for the last 20 minutes, you can throw in onion, garlic, lemon and pepper to flavour. Any liquid left over after cooking can be saved and used as a future soup base, unless you went with the beer.

Rinse the ribs with water after removing them from the liquid.

Baste the ribs liberally with your sauce before placing them on the grill, which has been preheated to medium high. Cook until the sauce begins to bubble and brown; avoid too much “black stuff” on the meat and they should be ready to enjoy.

A good method for cooking baby back ribs is to simmer the meat the same way but for less time, say 30 minutes. Use a mustard-based dry rub to enhance the flavour before putting them in a 300-degree oven, wrapped in foil, and baking for 30 to 45 minutes or until the meat can pull away from the bone.

Remove the ribs from the oven and the foil, baste with your secret sauce and finish cooking on a medium high barbecue grill until “caramelized”.

At the end of the day, pre-boiling your ribs in liquid (did I mention beer was an option?) is the way to succeed in cooking ribs that fall off the bone – but barbecuing them is what makes them so mouthwateringly tasty.

Remember to buy (or hunt) locally when in season.

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