Woke up on Sunday around 11:45 a.m. and immediately decided to go ahead with barbecuing since the weather was nice outside.
The only problem was figuring out what I could smoke within four to five hours.
The answer? Ribs, apparently.
I took a trip to the neighborhood Giant and grabbed the two of three racks of St. Louis ribs they had. Pre-frozen unfortunately, but I figured it would be okay since it was my first time. Also, one of the bags was sort of leaky. I’m somewhat doubtful that I would be able to tell the difference in freshness anyways, but I think I’ll try harder to find a better source of meat (and maybe try to improve my planning skills).
This barbecue session did allow me to tryout my new boning knife. I got a Victorinox semi-flexible boning knife off of Amazon for about 20 dollars, which I figured would be worth it since I’d probably only use it for the weekend. Apparently, the flexible knives are better for fish, so I got the more rigid one. It’s a pretty solid knife. The grip, which is one of the knife’s touted features, feels solid, if not a bit plasticy. The packaging was a pain in the ass, per usual, though I guess I wasn’t paying for looks.
I removed the membrane/film on the back and trimmed off a bit of the fat. The supermarket ribs I think tend to be pre-trimmed and require few modifications.
I seasoned both with kosher salt (likely too much as I would later discover). One then got covered in a random brown sugar bourbon rub I picked up at the store; the other just ground black pepper. It took forever to ground the pepper by hand. I might have to invest in a food processor or an electric grinder at some point.
The fire got going alright; I hadn’t yet received my starter cubes, but I was able to get the initial dozen coals started with some newspaper and the chimney. I managed to not forget to put the water in this time.
The meat finally went on around 2:30 p.m. I estimated about five hours of cooking at 225 so I generally let it run a bit hotter up to around 245 to try and speed things up.
Though I’ve read that there isn’t any real temperature that pork ribs are finished at (most people just see how floppy it is), I stuck the meat probe in one of the slabs anyways, just to double check. The temp appeared to stall around 150ish for an hour and a half (at least) before pushing past.
Horray friends. We grilled some steaks and sausage on one of the gas grills owned by the apartment. For the first time, I could actually taste the difference between using charcoal and propane; the steak had a weird sort of gassy taste for once. I guess this is what you get for climbing out of the allegorical barbecue cave.
Around 6:30 p.m., I opened up the kettle to brush on some barbecue sauce from Stubbs that I got a while back from Giant. Maybe one day I’ll make my own.
Took off the ribs at 7:00 p.m. since everyone was getting a bit antsy (and cold). Final temp was around 180ish. The ribs appeared to be sufficiently floppy enough, though I wouldn’t have minded the extra 30 minutes to reach five hours.
Had to have Jennifer cut it because of her strong, beastly arms.
In general, the ribs were just about at the right consistency. I may have overdone it a little on the salt, I’ll have to be careful in the future. I think in terms of smokiness, it was just on the line of being too smokey again.
- Maybe a carving knife would be useful. Something to grind pepper as well.
- I think I will start using my DSLR to take pictures, rather than using my cell phone. Most of the problem appears to be lighting, however. Portrait pictures are also not very conducive to this medium.
- I’m slowly figuring out how many wood chunks to use. I’m not sure how it will be different for chunkier meats like brisket though.
- I should find a new source for meat.