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A tale of two ribs.....

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    A tale of two ribs.....

    I recently bought two packs of baby back ribs that were 3.2 lbs and 3.8 lbs each. At first it was going to be the normal rub and cook schedule. However, I recently visited the local Asian market here and got some different sauces for the ribs. I used both the Bulgogi and Hoisin sauces for a quick marinade. Yes, in the background of the photo is a shameless plug for the Steelers…. Better luck this coming season….

    I usually dry rub, but was interested in trying out an experiment with the two racks. I have always heard of removing the membrane before applying the rub. However, not too long ago, I read in another forum, SMF?, about keeping the membrane on to retain the juices. Since these ribs were close in weight, I thought I would try it out both ways.

    I had my Rec Tec Trailblazer at 225, with a copious amount of sauce applied to both ribs. I normally go 3-2-1 when I cook St. Louis ribs, but modified to 2-2-1 for these. At the two hour mark, both ribs were around 155F. Now, when I cook with this method, or the 3-2-1 method, for the wrapped (butcher paper) session I bring it into the house for the time in the oven. I figure heat is heat and why waste pellets when I’m not getting any benefit from the smoke?? Added some brown sugar, butter and apple juice to the butcher paper packs and wrapped tight.

    Removed at the two hour braising mark with an IT of 185, give or take around both ribs. I added about 4 table spoons of both sauces to the ribs and left on the grill for another hour. At around the 198-205F mark, I removed both ribs. The one with the membrane left on I placed on my chargriller grill that was up to 650F and once the membrane side hit the heat, it burst and created a quick fire up. That was all of the braising juices that were kept within the rib while cooking. You can see the membrane in the photo. I peeled back the membrane and placed back on my sheet for a rest. Both my son and I devoured the membrane, which was almost like a piece of crispy bbq candy…..

    Judgment time, I cut the ribs up and separated them and while not telling my family what I had done, asked for their preferences between the two. Rib A, or Rib B. Rib B had the membrane intact. My opinion may have been a little biased, however everyone in my family agreed rib B was juicier and was better. It definitely was more moist and had a better pull off of the bone. Overall, there wasn’t any recognizable smokiness difference to taste. Both ribs had a decent smoke ring. Rib B is on the top in the photo. I think I will definitely try this again and see if it can be repeated, but at the moment it seems like the membrane may hold back flavorful juice that otherwise make be lost in the cook.
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    Last edited by Rocinante; February 9, 2020, 07:16 PM.

    #2
    looks tasty!!

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      #3
      Nice experiment, and I have been lookin' for an excuse to leave the membrane on...

      Comment


        #4
        Did the membrane come off in one piece?

        Comment


          #5
          Those ribs must have been gobbled up in no time. They sure look good, done either way. Thanks for doing the test.

          Kathryn

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            #6
            Originally posted by ScottyC13 View Post
            Did the membrane come off in one piece?
            No, the membrane pretty much just burst from the center. I was only able to salvage several inches of it. I was surprised by how quickly it became so brittle. The remaining piece or two was easily pulled off with a set of tongs.

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              #7
              They both look amazing! Thanks for posting this!

              Comment


                #8
                Interesting experiment, as I cooked ribs with membrane intact until about 15 years ago. I don't think I even knew about removing it until I read something from Steven Raichlen about it in the Barbecue Bible. I've been removing it ever since.

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                  #9
                  Very interesting. Ive never done a side by side but ive cooked both membrane on and off. I dont know if its 50/50 but ive definitely had times where the membrane almost ruined the mouthfeel of the rib and times when you didnt even notice it. Pig specific maybe. I need to cook some more ribs now.

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                  • IowaGirl
                    IowaGirl commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I know exactly what you mean, grantgallagher. When the membrane is tough, I end up scraping or nibbling the meat off the membrane with my teeth because I can't bite through it. It's not a horrible nasty experience, but it's certainly odd enough that I think it's worth the trouble to take the membrane off. I really struggled the first time or two I removed the membrane, but I'm getting better and faster with practice.

                  #10
                  I started removing the membrane after watching my boy Emeril awhile back. Before I know I could remove it, I found it was almost always annoying when I ate ribs. In fact, I went to a local joint a few weeks ago and they din't remove the membrane, and it was annoying on their ribs too.

                  Comment


                    #11
                    Originally posted by klflowers View Post
                    I started removing the membrane after watching my boy Emeril awhile back. Before I know I could remove it, I found it was almost always annoying when I ate ribs. In fact, I went to a local joint a few weeks ago and they din't remove the membrane, and it was annoying on their ribs too.
                    I know what you mean, I have had ribs with the membrane left on and they were not all that good. Luckily, almost as soon as I placed the rib on the hot grill, the membrane pretty much burst open. I think the key is in getting the membrane removed asap before eating them.

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