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backyard bar-b-que

I became a BBQ fanatic about 15 years ago while working in Nashville, Tennessee. Southerners take their "Q" seriously and I learned how to cook it from master BBQ cooks in Nashville, Memphis, Florida, and Arkansas. While I can't show you how to do it in person, I can give you some of my secrets for great backyard BBQ ribs. With these tips and some practice, you can become the "King of the Grill" in your neighborhood.

Rick's Ragin' Rib Secrets!

Let's Have a BBQ!

First and foremost, you MUST have enough time to make good BBQ ribs. DON'T RUSH! Be prepared to spend an hour or two to get things ready.

Pick Your Ribs Carefully. I prefer pork spareribs over baby back or beef ribs. Slabs of ribs come in weights of 2-5 lbs. and may contain as many as 12 to 13 bones. A two pound slab will come from a young hog and will be more tender.

Buy slabs that are three pounds or less (butchers call these "three down" spare ribs). You should look for the leanest slabs you can find, then trim any visible fat. Cut off the thick back and the flap of meat on the back side with a boning knife, leaving only the long ribs. Also, remove the thick membrane on the back side of the ribs if the butcher has not done so. This is best done with a dull oyster knife or a large, clean Phillips screwdriver.. .honest! Place the knife or screwdriver under the membrane in the center of the slab next to a bone. Carefully follow the bone and lift. The membrane should loosen and it can then be pulled off. Place the ribs, curved side up, on a piece of foil or paper towel.

Good BBQ ribs need a "rub" or dry seasoning mix, like Rick's Ragin' BBQ Rub™, which is sprinkled on the meat prior to cooking. Sprinkle Rick's Ragin' BBQ Rub™ liberally over the meat, but not so much that it cakes. Let the ribs rest with the rub about 20 minutes until they begin to "sweat." By "sweat," I mean that the meat will begin to glisten as the spices do their work. The rub provides the background for both the mopping sauce and the finishing sauce. A finishing sauce like Rick's Ragin' BBQ & Broilin' Baste™ is applied at the end of the cooking process. Rick's Ragin' BBQ & Broilin' Baste™ contains brown sugar and should not be applied until the last few minutes of cooking or it will burn before the meat is done. During cooking, use a sugarless basting sauce to provide the extra moisture necessary to keep the meat from drying out. Here's a recipe for a quick and easy mopping or spritz baste.

Quick & Easy Mopping Sauce

1 Cup Cider Vinegar
1/2 Cup Worcesterchire Sauce
1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Water

This mopping sauce should be applied throughout the cooking process with a new, clean rag-type dish mop. Don't use a brush! Dribble the mopping sauce over the meat with the mop. A brush will just wipe the seasonings from the meat. You can also put the mopping sauce in a new, clean, spray bottle and mist the meat with a fine spray to add moisture, which is what I do.

Charcoal ChimneyLight a charcoal fire or use a gas grill. If you are using a charcoal grill, I recommend using a charcoal chimney rather than grill lighter fluid to start the coals. The charcoal chimney, available at most stores that sell grills, uses a single sheet of newspaper at the bottom of a metal cylinder to light the coals. It works great and you don't get the taste of petroleum in the meat. When the coals have ashed over, spread them evenly in the bottom of the grill. Let the coals settle down so that there is no visible flame. Ideally, use a grill thermometer and adjust the air damper on the grill so the temperature is between 250 and 270 degrees. Any hotter and the ribs will char and burn instead of slow cooking. If you must add more coals during cooking, light them first outside the grill. Do not add cold coals to the grill, as the incomplete combustion will cause a bitter soot to form on the meat.. .yuck!

Place the seasoned slab of ribs on the grill, curved side down. Cover the grill, leaving the lid vents open, and cook about 10 to 20 minutes. Baste or spritz the ribs with the mopping sauce on the curved side and turn the slab over. Baste or spritz the top side and cover the grill again. Repeat the process every 10 to 15 minutes until the ribs are both cooked and tender. You can tell when they are done by grabbing the slab with tongs about half way. If you gently push on the free end of the slab and the meat begins to tear near the bone, the ribs are "tender" done. When this happens, baste the slabs with Rick's Ragin BBQ & Broilin Bastetm and let them glaze. At this point, watch the ribs carefully or the finishing sauce will burn.

Now the secret part! Immediately after taking the ribs off the grill, completely wrap them in foil. Then, place the foil-wrapped ribs in a brown paper sack and fold the sack over the ribs. Allow the ribs to rest for one hour at room temperature. This causes the meat juices and the spices to be drawn back into the meat as it cools slowly. The bag holds in the heat and moisture so the ribs don't cool too much. It sounds weird, but it works!

Finally, heat up the remaining Rick's Ragin' BBQ & Broilin' Bastetm on the stove, unwrap the ribs, swab on the warm sauce and have at it! Serve the remaining sauce at the table. if you follow these directions, you will be rewarded with ribs that are moist, tender, and tasty beyond your wildest imagination.

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