Rib cuts

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Rib cuts

Post  RichardD on Sat Jul 18, 2009 12:31 pm

I'm obviously transferred into someone who talks a foreign language whenever I try to buy ribs from a butchers. It doesn't seem to matter what words I use, what I get looks *nothing* like the racks of baby back ribs (a US cut) when I get them home. This morning's purchase is the worst yet - whatever I've been sold, it's a cut that appears to absent any bones at all (at least when they give me spare ribs there's a rib or two involved somewhere). How in the heck can a butcher - of any level of competence - hear the customer ask for pork ribs and serve up a cut that doesn't have any bone in it at all? Rolling Eyes

So far every attempt to follow the simplest of recipes have turned into disasters. I could blame the meat, or the fact that I can't seem to keep the heat up in the Frontier for more than about 3 hours, or maybe it's the charcoal that gives everything that *is* cooked (pork excepted; that refuses to cook properly whatever I do) a slightly petrochemical taste. or maybe it's too much cayenne pepper in the rub that means the children refuse to try even a mouthful of anything that *is* cooked, but right now the BBQ is a disaster zone.

But the biggest frustration is not being able to buy the right ribs. My mental picture of great barbequed ribs is a *very* long way from reality right now Sad

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Re: Rib cuts

Post  colin.irwin on Sat Jul 18, 2009 2:46 pm

I've been buying racks of "belly pork ribs" from Sainsbury (and I think Tesco too). They're the ones they chop up into individual ribs in-store and season with spicy/chinese/whatever marinades.

You won't see the full racks on display - you need to ask the butcher if they've got some in the cold store.

They aren't like baby back ribs - the bones go from long to short and there's usually a tail end with no bones - but they are EXTREMELY meaty and tender. I paid 12 for a full rack yesterday - it's marinading in the fridge as I speak.

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Re: Rib cuts

Post  Toby on Sat Jul 18, 2009 6:56 pm

Hi Guys, not sure which supermarket is your local, but always ask at the meat counter they normally have spares vacuum packed out the back. I always tend to get full racks of spares rather than babyback, I have been told Morrisons and cost-co both sell baby back.

The petro taste may have something to do with charcoal, make sure you are not using self lighting charcoal and try to stay away from fire lighters and lighting fluid/gel. Also make sure the coals are completely white before you start cooking.

Ref frontier there are plenty of tips on here about keeping the temp up, just have a browse.

Another hint if you want to make some ribs the kids will like forget the rubs initially, rub some brown sugar over the ribs and wrap for a couple of hours before cooking, 10 mins before serving mop on a bit of bbq sauce. Basic but it works.
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Re: Rib cuts

Post  RichardD on Sun Jul 19, 2009 10:29 am

Just prepared my "ribs" to smoke them later. About 1 kilo of "meat" (loosely defined; include "skin, fat, cartiledge and gristle" for complete accuracy), and sod-all actual "rib". How in the heck does a butcher serve something to a customer who asked - quite clearly - for "ribs" that doesn't contain any actual rib?

If anyone's interested, it's the small independent butchers (Roberts, I think), in Aldridge, Walsall. Scratch him off your "butchers to try" list.

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Re: Rib cuts

Post  colin.irwin on Sun Jul 19, 2009 10:47 am

Toby wrote:Hi Guys, not sure which supermarket is your local, but always ask at the meat counter they normally have spares vacuum packed out the back. I always tend to get full racks of spares rather than babyback, I have been told Morrisons and cost-co both sell baby back.

That sounds like what I'm getting from Sainsbury - they just label it "belly pork ribs" on the pack.

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Re: Rib cuts

Post  Novice on Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:12 pm

Hi Richard,
I had similar problems as you in the early days, so here are some solutions that may save you some of the pain I went through.
The type & quality of the cut is paramount, few butchers normally carry ribs in stock, I see you're in Birmingham, I now normally get my ribs from Birmingham indoor meat market & they have always been fantastic, unless you have a very good butcher they will be hard to beat. Most of the places up there do spare ribs, (though only some do baby backs). Get plenty & freeze some.
Some charcoals have fuel in them that may give you a bad taste, gives off lots of ash & burn out quickly. Get some coconut charcoal, (they sell it online from the ProQ site), no bad taste, little ash, & hotter for longer, originally I could comfortably get 7hrs from my Frontier with this, but if you only have one vent in your base you will need to turn the coal basket every few hours. I added two more vents in the base of mine (though only with two holes each) & it now gives me a longer, more even burn, I can comfortably run it for 9hrs plus without adding fuel.
Calibrate your lid thermometer & get a Maverick ET 73 probe thermometer, they're priceless.
Make sure you use the minion method, I only light a few coals & drop it into a hole made in the middle of a full basket, let it come up to temp & then control it from your base vents, if you use a full chimney of coals it runs hotter for a much shorter period.
Good luck, there's loads of info on the site if you look around.

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Re: Rib cuts

Post  RichardD on Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:23 pm

Thanks.

Today's burn started out as a bit of a disaster - full chimney on top of a basket of unlit briquettes, and it almost went out before I discovered I'd left the top vent shut. Then, when I tried to top it off with another chimney to relight it, the rains came down, making the chimney hard to light. Ho hum.

Still, about 4 hours in and the first bits of pork were great.

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Re: Rib cuts

Post  Toby on Sun Jul 19, 2009 6:14 pm

Richard, if you are available and fancy a day out (albeit a long one) why dont you come up to Rother Valley Country park next weekend, The British BBQ Society National Final. A few of the guys on here are competing and all will give advice and demonstrate their various techniques. Meat preperation, rubs lighting, cooking times etc. There is a funfair, classic car show over the whole weekend so enough to keep eveyone entertained.
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Re: Rib cuts

Post  RichardD on Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:37 pm

Sheffield's not that far. Especially not in *my* car. And I love finding unusual stuff to do with the family (though we haven't done either a balloon or kite festival so far in 2009). So we're going to try and make it. What's the best day to visit? Saturday mornings are usually occupied with swimming lessons, you see.

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Re: Rib cuts

Post  Toby on Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:57 pm

The lineup as it stands is as follows. Saturday lunchtime ish, mystery box, each team is given a mystery box to come up with 2 plates that will be judged on innovation, there will be various displays taking place throughout the day, the team meeting will take place between 6pm - 7 on the Saturday and competitors will cook throughout the night, judging will commence at 11am with upto 6 categories being presented finishing with prize giving at 4pm on the Sunday. If you want to have a BBQ weekend, make a night of it, I can provide passes for anyone that wants to come and see things kick off after the park has closed on the Saturday evening and bring the family on the Sunday. The key thing to remember, as on here the guys competing are all enthusiasts, and we all had to start somewhere.
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Re: Rib cuts

Post  RichardD on Wed Jul 22, 2009 8:51 pm

It turns out that if you want anything doing right, ask the wife to do it.

She came home today with what looks to be an ideal rack of pork ribs, fresh (well, frozen, but it doesn't sound the same) from the local butcher. Who also can't understand how a different local butcher served me with ribs containing no actual rib.

I know what I'm doing on Saturday.

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Re: Rib cuts

Post  steveheyes on Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:02 pm

Hi, To back Toby up, Costco do sell very nice baby backs but they're not labelled as baby backs, just as "ribs" Makro also do baby backs and spares.

You probably got some belly pork from your butcher.

I'll be at Sheffield, am happy to give you any advice you want, come find the Royal Q station and look for the fat bloke with too many tattoos Laughing

To be fair there are other guys there who are better than me and you'll probably find they'll help you out too, but the offer's there mate.
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Re: Rib cuts

Post  steveheyes on Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:04 pm

Toby - is that 11 for BBQ sauce then 1/2 hour intervals so 1/2 hour earlier than last time for each category?
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Re: Rib cuts

Post  Toby on Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:48 pm

Hi Steve, you should know me by now..................Seat of pants etc etc........ all final times will be set out at the chefs meeting which will be between 6 and 7 pm on Saturday LOL I cannot possibly be asked for definite times before i get onsite. Good luck!
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Re: Rib cuts

Post  steveheyes on Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:09 pm

And here's me trying to get all organised with my worksheet. I'm going to end up scribbling all over it and it looks so pretty and neat right now Laughing
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Re: Rib cuts

Post  Mack on Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:42 pm

RichardD wrote:It turns out that if you want anything doing right, ask the wife to do it.

She came home today with what looks to be an ideal rack of pork ribs, fresh (well, frozen, but it doesn't sound the same) from the local butcher. Who also can't understand how a different local butcher served me with ribs containing no actual rib.

I know what I'm doing on Saturday.

Why don't you bring the ribs up with you, so we can all taste them?
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Re: Rib cuts

Post  Toby on Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:46 pm

Use excel and print it out at the last minute............ i would if my printer worked!!
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Re: Rib cuts

Post  RichardD on Sat Jul 25, 2009 10:13 pm

Tonight was the fourth burn for my Frontier. This time with a digital thermometer (handy, as it let me know how accurate the in-built thermometer is at around 200 degrees, and how wildly inaccurate it gets at over 250 degrees). Like my wind meter for the kite flying, I'm not sure how much use it is to anyone halfway competant, but as a crutch for a newbie, it's a handy tool to have.

The key lesson tonight was to either line the water pan, or make absolutely sure that it doesn't boil dry; the unholy mess I now have concreted in to my water pan is going to take something quite nasty to shift.

Two sets of parents, so I bought two racks of spare ribs (with rib bones, this time - yay). Which was possibly one rack too many, given how much other meat we had floating around. Eight burgers, a dozen sausages, a dozen chicken drumsticks (my wife demonstrated her complete confidence in my abilities, by cooking 8 of the drumsticks in the oven), plus corn on the cob. Tomorrow morning nobody's allowed out of the house until they've eaten at least one sausage sandwich.

The burgers were good - Morrison's own, they weren't particularly inspiring to look at in the packet, but 40 minutes on the smoker plus 5 minutes on a little Grilletto BBQ gril to finish them off (it's a handy bit of kit for finishing, I find; it was way to small to cook for more than 4 on, but to brown off sausages and burgers it's idea, largely thanks to the idiot-proof and fast start-up).

The corn was better than last time - much less of a chemical taste to it. Probably the different brand of charcoal, though I also threw far less woodchips on tonight.

The ribs were hit and miss. The rack that I pulled off the cooker after about 4.5 hours were fine, though the kitchen staff didn't add enough of tonight's batch of BBQ sauce to them to keep me happy. And I only managed to grab two. I really must find baby back ribs next time, though. The second rack looked to have more meat on it, so I left it smoking for much longer, "to be on the safe side". Huge, huge mistake. Not just because of the water pan boiling dry. I kind of forgot about the time, so they were probably cooking for about 7 hours. By which time you could write with them, and everyone was full to bursting anyway. So they were just left to go cold. They've gone home with my father (along with the last of the BBQ sauce), who will eat just about anything if it has calories in it.

The sausages, however, were a huge hit with me. On the face of it, they were just "ordinary" 100% pork sausages from the butcher. Whether it's the recipe that he uses, or the smoking then grilling, or the (by the time they were added to the cooker) bizarre mix of stuff that was in the water pan (pork fat from the ribs, rub - also from the ribs, and sweet BBQ sauce that had been mopped onto the ribs), they ended up being fantastically juicy with all sorts of flavours. Mostly a sort of whisky flavour, with an undercurrent of smoke. It'll be interesting to see what they are like tomorrow cold, because tonight they were the tastiest sausages I've ever had.

The BBQ sauce was good, too. I've been sweetening the much too hot and peppery sauce I made up the last time, and it was really good tonight. A tad too runny, but I'm sure I'll think of a way to fix that.

Overall, it was a really good experience, apart from cremating the second set of ribs.

How on earth will I be able to eat anything tomorrow if we go to Sheffield? I'm completely stuffed. Hope the weather stays nice.

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Re: Rib cuts

Post  Adam on Sat Jul 25, 2009 11:20 pm

Re. sausages I always put a dozen normal supermarket sausages in the smoker these days if i am firing it up and I have a bit of space. they acquire a wonderful flavour and I can just fry them up for a few minutes and they are gorgeous. I think I have a dozen or so in the freezer right now.

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Re: Rib cuts

Post  RichardD on Sun Jul 26, 2009 6:25 pm

Apparently sausages aren't "the done thing" - that with a smoker I'm supposed to be smoking proper meat cuts all the time. Sorry. But in my defence they were quite the tastiest things I've ever had from anybody's barbecue ever, so I'm going to carry on doing them. Razz

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Re: Rib cuts

Post  Adam on Sun Jul 26, 2009 6:37 pm

That is crazy talk. This is after all the school of cookery which brought us not only the fatty but even the porkgasm! And hang on while I am thinking about it doesn't pretty much everyone in Europe smoke sausages?

You keep on cooking the tasty tasty sausages as will I. Might I recommend Tesco finest Lincolnshire over oak as a very good option.

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Re: Rib cuts

Post  steveheyes on Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:41 am

As long as it's good eating, smoke whatever you want my friend.

I do sausages in the gaps on my rig too, they taste fantastic and when you slice them, that smoke ring just looks cool. I've found Porky White's the best of the supermarket sausages for smoking, hit them with a bit of hickory, they just lap up that wood smoke so nicely with the way they are seasoned!
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