For many home cooks, the barbecue is synonymous with ribs! Yet many versions of the “ideal” barbecue ribs exist– especially now that we have unlimited access to food shows, cooking blogs, online recipes and many other sources of inspiration. Here in Alberta, we are fortunate to be exposed to a wide selection of open-flame cuisines that reflects our cultural mosaic. Also, our access to top-quality beef means that beef ribs are just as popular for some dishes as pork ribs, the reigning champ of backyard BBQ.
#1: Marinate before grilling.
A technique as old as cooking itself: dressing a cut of meat in bold flavours is a surefire way to infuse taste and tenderness– and the longer it sits… the better! (Within food safety standards, of course). There are as many marinades as your imagination will allow, spanning all cultures and tastes. Certain ingredients can help synthesize the tougher proteins and fats of ribs into a fall-off-the-bone experience. For this reason, always be aware if you are grilling meat that is especially tender or has been marinated for a long time.
#2: Boil or roast, then grill or fry.
Start slow, finish fast– this is a mantra applied to many ways of preparing meat. Whether it be boiling, roasting or anything else, cooking ribs slowly over time will guarantee a fork- or tooth-tender experience. If you bring the ribs to just shy of tenderness, you can finish them on open flame or even deep fry them to perfection. Brush the finished product with its own cooked juices or your favorite sauce.
#3: Apply a dry rub, then grill or smoke.
Many barbecue experts south of the border swear by two concepts: an application of dry seasoning, followed by a day spent cooking over indirect heat. While this process provides an undeniable taste and texture, many Albertans enjoy the results of ribs with a dry rub over open flame. No matter how you cook it, all of the control comes when you choose or create your seasoning. Typical dry rubs feature salt, spice, sweetness with bold amounts of powdered flavours such as garlic and onion. A dry rub is also usually a great base for a barbecue sauce!
#4: Braise in the oven.
Steeping ribs in boldly-flavoured, complementary liquids, then cooking it a long time over a low heat– usually known as braising or stewing, this preparation spans all types of cuisines and cultures. Not only are you left with extremely tender ribs, but the cooking liquid can and is often reduced to an accompanying sauce or glaze. Pressure cookers, dutch ovens and slow-cookers can also offer stove top alternatives for braising ribs.
**TIP: When cooking over an open flame, whether it is smoking or grilling, your dish can change wildly just by choosing a different heat source. Cooking with smoke may be indirect, but the food is infused with the odor of the burning wood. Varietals such as mesquite, hickory, apple and countless others are widely available and each boasts their own subtle differences. If you are grilling, opting for a tasteless gas like propane or natural gas is a good way to highlight the taste of the food. Instead, burning wood or charcoal under a grill can add the sear and char unique to that type of open flame.
Of course there are dozens of other ways to cook ribs, if not hundreds. If you want to try a new recipe or method for pork or beef ribs, contact or visit D’Arcy’s today! Our helpful staff is always happy to offer advice and guidance for your next backyard barbecue project.