Hot weather is ahead, and that means one thing — barbecue season.
Because everyone loved our cook chicken like a champ post, we decided to ring in the most wonderful time of the year (no offense, Christmas) with a post on how to cook pork like a pro. Starting with ribs, because, well… RIBS. You know?
But, if you like this porky post, we’ll keep rolling through different parts of the pig in the upcoming weeks, so let us know.
To learn about prepping pork, we consulted with our friends Tony Roberts and Dan Casey over at Proud Souls Barbecue. Not only do they cook amazing ‘cue, the also offer deals on specialty barbecue supplies, cooking classes, catering and more in their shop. You can check out their store for cookers, seasonings & supplies — including a custom blend we worked on together called Soul Swine. They’re located at 2485 N Federal Blvd., Denver. Click here to learn more.
How to Cook Pork Like a Pro — Ribs 101 with Proud Souls BBQ
1. Consider the Cut
“In the store, we prefer to cook spare ribs, preferably St. Louis cut,” Tony and Dan explained. “That’s because there is a higher fat content in spare ribs versus baby back ribs because that cut is closer to the belly of the pig. With more fat content, the ribs have a bigger window of time to be cooked successfully — basically, it’s less likely that you dry them out. Spare ribs are like bacon on a stick.”
Bacon on a stick? That’s poetry right there.
A rack of St. Louis cut spare ribs will typically have 10-12 bones, Tony and Dan estimate having 2-3 bones per person for a party where other items will be served. While you’re in the store, you’ll also need to grab apple juice, aluminum foil, butter and make sure you have your Spice Guy seasonings waiting for you at home.
2. Prep Properly
Once you’re home, unwrap the ribs, pat them dry and grab a knife.
“On the back of every rack is a membrane,” they explained. “We like to peel that off the bone-side because it helps the seasoning penetrate the meat itself. It also yields a better texture at the end. The finished product will be a lot more tender.”
After that, Tony and Dan said there are a lot of directions you can date. You can do a wet marinade (they like apple juice or peach nectar), but to keep things simple and delicious, they suggest going for a dry rub.
If you can’t head over to Proud Souls and buy your own container of Soul Swine, you can DIY it at home with brown sugar, smoked paprika, kosher salt, dark chili powder, ground mustard and cilantro flakes. Apply it liberally to both sides and pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.
“It’s important not to leave it in there too long,” they said. “That amount of time helps the ribs ‘sweat’ and absorb the spices, but you don’t want this to go on for too long. It’s important to keep most of the moisture in that meat since it will be cooking for a long time.”
3. Smoke or Bake
Now, while the ribs are marinating in the fridge, prep your oven or smoker. If you don’t have a smoker – the oven works wonderfully! Just preheat that baby to 275 degrees.
Once the oven and ribs are ready, pop them in there uncovered for 2 hours.
When that time is up, remove the ribs from the oven, and take out a big piece of aluminum foil. Curve the foil and add one cup of liquid and a quarter stick of butter. add the ribs on top and wrap in the foil completely. Add it back into the oven for an hour and a half.
“This helps tenderize the meat,” they explained. “You can get really creative with that cup of liquid, though. We like apple juice, but you could use Coca-cola, a beer, peach nectar — anything, really.”
After that time has passed, remove the ribs from the foil and add them to a cookie sheet. If you’re going to add a wet sauce, do it now to the meat-side of the ribs. Or, add another layer of the dry rub. Then, put them back in the oven for 10 minutes to let that set.
Remove from the oven, let rest for five minutes and serve!