published Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Braly: How to barbecue ribs like a pro

Like many of you, I’ll be doing my best to make a tender rack of ribs on my grill this July 4th, though I’ve never quite mastered the technique.

I want them to have a good smoky taste; I want them fall-off-the-bone tender; and I want them juicy, not dried out from hours on the smoker. What’s so hard about that?

So I called some of my favorite houses of barbecue in the Scenic City. I asked the grill masters to give their opinion of the biggest mistakes amateurs make when cooking ribs and to offer some tips for success.

1) Tommie Paris, Old Plantation Barbecue, 1515 Dodson Ave.

  • The mistake: People cook them too long, which makes them dry, or not long enough, which makes them tough.

  • The fix: Cook them over indirect heat over medium coals. Check the side facing the coals, and when the meat begins to bubble and turns golden, flip it and repeat the process. If you’re cooking more than one rack of ribs, prop them against each other. This will help keep them from drying out. Flip them every half-hour till they are fork-tender. You don’t want the meat to be fall-off-the-bone tender, though.

2) Tony Davis, Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe, 4001 St. Elmo Ave.

  • The mistake: Not cooking the ribs long enough.

  • The fix: Cook them for a couple of hours over indirect heat, then remove them from the grill. Place the ribs on a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil, pour a cup of water or Coca-Cola over top, wrap them securely in the foil, then place them back over direct heat and let them cook for another hour or two or until they are tender.

3) Sonny Chamber, Sonny’s Barbecue, 1503 Tunnel Blvd.

  • The mistake: Not cooking the ribs long enough.

  • The fix: Cook them over indirect heat for 21⁄2 to 3 hours, checking and flipping them every 30 minutes. Also, before you put them on the grill, cut that back flap off the ribs; it tends to be tough.

There you have it. I found it interesting that all cooks agreed on one thing: We don’t give our ribs the proper amount of cooking time.

So, this July 4th, enjoy the day. Sit back, relax, and let your ribs cook. With any luck, before the day’s over, you’ll be biting into some of the best ever. Have a great Fourth!

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bigbearzzz said...

I cheat. I actually bake mine in the oven on very low heat (like around 200) for about two or three hours. Then I go and throw them on the grill for the finishing touches. Easy and very tender.

June 29, 2011 at 11:05 a.m.
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