Its hard to get more Southern, even more American than barbecued ribs. Maybe it's the built in handle, that messy feeling when we eat some wet ribs, or maybe its because they're a backyard tradition. Whatever the reason, ribs have been a favorite since Adam and Eve.
The odd thing about ribs though is everyone has different methods on preparing and cooking them. Everything from the type of rib to the cooking time, wood or charcoal, wet or dry, membrane or no membrane will be debated among rib cookers. That's not the most fun part though.
When dealing with ribs remember that the cut is important in determining the cooking time. Baby back ribs, my personal favorite, are called so because the bones are smaller than spareribs. They are cut from the blade and center section. Spareribs are cut from the underbelly or side and are less meaty. There are several versions of the spare rib such as the Kansas City Cut or the St Louis style rib. The different versions are based on the trimming process, where one includes the breastplate and the other does not.
When preparing your ribs remove the membrane from the backside. This can be done by starting a small area with a knife underneath the membrane and then working it up with your fingers. Once you have a starting point you can pull it off with your hands. I like trimming the end pieces off, as it keeps any loose pieces of meat from curling when they are cooking. Next comes the rub. Rubs are an easy way to add some flavor to pork. Let them set for about 30 minutes to allow the spices to penetrate the meat.
The secret to great ribs goes beyond sauce and cuts, its how the ribs are cooked. I personally use the slow and low method. That is long cooking time at low heat. Indirect heat is the only way to cook good ribs. Cook the ribs at 200 degrees for 3 hours in the smoke and indirect heat, then wrap them in foil and cook 2 more hours. Remove the ribs from the foil and apply your finishing sauce. An easy finishing sauce is 2 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce and 1 cup of honey. Allow the ribs to cook 30 more minutes and enjoy!