5@5 - Rack up on rib pointers
June 26th, 2013
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

We're positively slab-happy it's summer. There's something inherently appropriate about spending the longer, sunnier days at a picnic table, unabashedly attacking a rack of smoky, pink-tinged ribs with the exhilaration of 300 Spartans.

Perhaps no one shares that sentiment more than Myron Mixon, champion pitmaster, cookbook author and chef/owner of the Pride & Joy Bar B Que restaurants in Miami and New York City.

His pointers for remarkable ribs will stick with you long after you've finished reading. Pro tip: Don't forget the wet naps.

Five Tips and Tricks for Mouthwatering Ribs: Myron Mixon

myron mixon

1. Rib novices should start with Kansas City-style ribs, which are the long bones from the lower part of the hog's belly behind its shoulder. They're an inexpensive, easy-to-find cut in any supermarket or butcher shop, and they have the breastbone and skirt already removed. This means they're trimmed already and come with no excess membranes or fat, making them extremely easy and less time-consuming to handle and cook.

2. To get that all-important glistening look on your ribs, smoke them for 30 minutes then spritz them with a simple solution of half water, half apple juice at 15-minute intervals for the duration of the cooking time. It keeps them sweet, moist and beautifully mahogany.

3. When you're cooking beef ribs, the large, so-called "dinosaur bones" of the barbecue world, you don't need to marinate them. They come from one of the most marbled areas of the cow, which means they're loaded with natural flavor already.

4. Cook your ribs uncovered, but aside from the 15-minute spritz intervals, do not open your smoker or oven if you don't have to. Every time you open it, you lower the temperature inside it by about 5 degrees or so. It'll take several additional minutes of cooking time to make up for that loss of heat. And when you're cooking barbecue, it's very important to maintain a consistent temperature.

5. Let those ribs rest gently covered with aluminum foil either in the pan you've smoked them in or on a cutting board for at least 20 minutes. If you do not let the meat rest, it's not going to be worth a damn. It has to rest after you cook it so that the flavor can come back into it.

You've got to let it rest right in its own juice, which allows the flavors to concentrate, the texture to solidify and the temperature to regulate throughout the rack. Never skip this step, no matter how much of a hurry you may be in to get your food on the table.

The Only Barbecue Rub You'll Ever Need
Makes just under 2 cups

1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp mustard powder
2 Tbsp onion powder
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Stir thoroughly to combine. You can store this rub in an airtight container for up to one year.

The Only Barbecue Marinade You'll Ever Need
Makes 1 quart

3 cups apple juice
1 cup distilled white vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup kosher salt

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the apple juice and vinegar and whisk over medium heat. Whisking continuously, pour in the sugar and salt. Continue whisking until the seasonings are completely dissolved, but do not allow the mixture to come to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and cool completely. If reserving for a later use, use a funnel and pour the marinade into a large bottle or container. You can store this marinade in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to one year.

Recipes excerpted from Everyday Barbecue: At Home with America's Favorite Pitmaster by Myron Mixon with Kelly Alexander (Ballantine Books). Copyright © 2013.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

Psst! Check out the rest of Eatocracy's grilling advice.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Barbecue • Grilling • Grilling • Make • Smoking • Techniques & Tips • Think


soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    RIBS!

    June 27, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      IMPOSTER!

      June 28, 2013 at 10:56 am |
  2. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Nice rack!

    June 27, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • ed dugan

      I don't eat BBQ and don't cook it at home so I am far from an expert. However, when he says that particular cut of ribs is inexpensive he must be shopping on Mars. They charge outrageous prices for ribs, particularly during the summer. However, if I never eat BBQ for the rest of my life I'll be h appy.

      June 27, 2013 at 10:52 am |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

        I've thought this before, as well. When about half of what you're looking at is inedible bone I laugh at their prices. I can get a $3 charcoal steak that tastes just as good.

        June 27, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
        • Thinking things through

          All bone and (negative) money. Yes, I find other cuts, too.

          June 28, 2013 at 6:19 am |
  3. Joe

    The low and slow works but if you want the same or better results in about 3 hours for 2 to 3 slabs of ribs, try the following. Use a wet marinade homemade or bought for 24 hours. Follwing day shake on a genorous amount of dry rub and press onto meat with gloved hand or back of large utensil. Using a 22 inch Weber grill not smoker add heated coals and grill the meat to form a light crust. Remove ribs and push coals to one side and place soaked wood chunks on top of coals to create smoke. I have 5 different grills and smokers of various sizes and have tried every method known to man. Place meat to opposite side brush with wet mopping sauce and smoke for about an hour. Remove ribs and brush again with mopping sauce then wrap in heavy foil. Add more soaked wood chunks and place meat to the side for indirect heat. The grill will reach around 400 degrees breaking down all fibrous material in the meat. Smoke for about 2 hours depending on type of ribs, I use baby backs. Remove from foil brush with mopping sauce and place back onto grill for about 30 minutes to form glaze. Your meat should almost be falling off the bone. Note: I cut my baby backs in half in order to soak in the gallon size bags and easier placement on such a small surface. Like I said, low and slow works but just another way of doing it for a few slabs.

    June 27, 2013 at 7:38 am |
    • Ted

      If you wrap the ribs in heavy foil, what good does adding more wood chunks for smoke do? Smoke doesn't go through heavy foil, does it?

      June 27, 2013 at 8:47 am |
  4. jim

    Look up the 3-2-1 method, it's super fool proof. I like to smoke with apple wood and then for the last hour I switch to mesquite, remove any water from the smoker, and lightly baste the ribs with a 'whisky' style bbq sauce. Blamo!

    June 27, 2013 at 7:35 am |
  5. Greg

    I love the applewood its what I have on my property to use, start with charcol and use wood the rest of the way using indirect smoker and heat 200-225 for 4-6 hours depending on wind and outside temps. I never marinate or use sauce during the smoke process I havent tried the spritzing never had the need to?? Sounds good though might have to try it.

    June 27, 2013 at 7:23 am |
  6. Meatball

    Ive never found the need to brine ribs additionally as they already come in a saline solution within the packaging. Also I disagree with the every 15 minutes rule. I prefer 30 for the simple fact that I don't like fluctuations in temperature. I think if you left the ribs alone (except for the 30 minutes) you will be better off. Another thing I like doing is applying a homemade sauce the last 45 minutes, and perhaps another coat at the last 20 minutes or so. It gives a nice lacquer finish to the ribs, but that is just my idiosyncrasy. I do agree with the low and slow. I prefer 180-200 degrees for about 6-8 hours. Then absolutely let it rest before cutting it up.

    June 27, 2013 at 12:05 am |
    • Meatball

      Correction: I would brine if buying fresh ribs from a local farmer. Most of the stuff people buy is from the supermarket, and most of the time, they are packed in a saline solution. I have never bought fresh local ribs, but I cant imagine there would be a significant taste difference after 6+ hours in the smoker. Maybe I'm wrong?

      June 27, 2013 at 12:13 am |
      • Dave

        I would only buy fresh ribs, as in not in a saline solution. What is the point?

        June 27, 2013 at 3:01 am |
    • Rick

      hmmmm....listen to you or to the bbq expert/champion.....can't seem to decide.....hmmmmmm

      June 27, 2013 at 7:22 am |
      • Don

        Best Comment, you made my day!!!

        June 27, 2013 at 8:02 am |
      • lgbarn

        Lots of champions don't brine. Many use Texas-Crutch method and get great ribs. I personally only use brine for meat with very little fat like turkey or shrimp. Ribs done low and slow don't need it.

        June 27, 2013 at 8:46 am |
        • DoubleSteve

          The Texas Crutch is used to get through the stall on larger cuts of meat like brisket and pork shoulder/butt. Using it on ribs would cook them too fast and leave out too much smoke flavor in my opinion.

          June 27, 2013 at 10:21 am |
        • lgbarn

          If you use the crutch on ribs, it's only for about 30-45 minutes near the end. Any longer than that and your ribs are mushy.

          June 27, 2013 at 10:23 am |
      • whorhay

        Being a BBQ champion doesn't mean a whole lot honestly. There are so many different competitions and the judging is all subjective so even the same annual competitions will favor different things from event to event and year to year. If you drive more than an hour on any major interstate in the south you are gauranteed to see billboards for atleast two or more BBQ restaurants claiming some title or other. And if you were to try them out it'd be a toss up whether or not you thought they were worth ever eating at again.

        That said my prefered method is a dry rub similiar to that listed in the article, I use Meathheads Memphis Dust recipe, applied 24 hours prior to the smoking. Then smoked for 4 to 5 hours or so in a water barrel smoker with adding hickory chips through the bottom door every 15 minutes or so, although the smoke is less important the further into the smoking you are. Most of the smoke/meat interaction happens early in the process. When there is 30 minutes left on the timer I'll open it up and put a glazing of Sweet Baby Rays sauce on them and let them finish. Mopping and spritzing in my experience are wasted effort and while wrapping in foil, the Texas Crutch, can have good results it's just not worth the effort in my opinion.

        June 27, 2013 at 10:14 am |
        • lgbarn

          @whoray I agree with you. I have a Weber smoker and a temp control unit. Meathead's Mephis Dust is the only thing I use these days for pork. My wood preference is apple mixed with a little hickory. I also agree with you about the Texas Crutch. You really don't need it unless you are in competition, which most of us are not.

          June 27, 2013 at 10:21 am |
        • Bob1god

          I met your sister, Slutay.

          June 27, 2013 at 11:38 am |
  7. Elliptical Orbit

    Nice article but it left out one of the most important details: The type of wood to use in your smoker! I prefer to use a blend of hickory AND oak when I smoke pork ribs. Everybody will have their own preference – don't be afraid to experiment.
    Also, do not use too much wood during the 4-6 hour smoke time, the meat will end up tasting bitter – again, experiment and learn. It takes a little work to get good ribs but when you finally get it right, you'll never go to your local bbq shack again.

    June 26, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • circular orbit

      if you go by words of wisdom, sensory perceptions are mere illusions. Yet all the elusively artificial sauces make their way without much work into our foods. I wonder what evolutionary justification is there behind differences in taste buds from the wild and humans.

      photoonica.com

      June 26, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • shawn l

      Hickory leaves bitter notes. I prefer pecan or apple wood.

      June 27, 2013 at 4:08 am |
      • DupQ

        Pecan is hickory. I grew up in South Ga trust me its hickory.

        June 27, 2013 at 5:01 am |
        • Don

          Pecan is related, but is more mild than hickory. Bitterness though comes from too much smoke. This can be regulated by air flow, ammount of wood, or duration of seasoning of wood.

          June 27, 2013 at 8:05 am |
  8. lgbarn

    People please don't leave the salt or sugar out of the marinade(brine) or it does NOT work. If you change the ratio in anyway, you might as well not use it at all.

    Also, don't EVER boil ribs and always cook low and slow. You can also cook pork shoulders and butts the same way. If you cook the shoulder or butt, then you need to use a thermometer (I cook to 195 degrees) to get it right. Cooking by time is a recipe for disaster and disappointment...trust me.

    June 26, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      I agree with you about the slow and low, but if I want dessert, then I'll use the sugar. Okay, I'll agree that my tastebuds aren't authentic, but I really dislike sicky sweet meat. I've recently discovered a mustard based Carolina BBQ that has minimal sugar in it. I gave it a try and I'm ready to repeat! I like hickory chips in my charcoal grill, and want to experiment with other woods.

      June 28, 2013 at 6:30 am |
  9. larry a. shoffner

    Did I miss Something? How long and at what temp.?

    June 26, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • lgbarn

      If you want ribs done right, I would stick to around 225 and no higher than 250 for about 5-6 hours. Use the bend or toothpick test to see if they are done. Toothpick should go right through the ribs Low and slow is the only way to get consistently great ribs.

      June 26, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • Amsterdamn

      I keep my temps between 200 and 225, 200 being my goal but won't adjust until I see it get over 225. Time can be from 4-6 hours.

      PLEASE don't set a timer and walk away. 4-5 hours can be good enough, it could take longer at times (you might open the smoker more than you should to marvel at your first masterpiece, long breaks might cause the fire to die down, etc). It could be shorter if you have a few flare-ups. 5 hours with flareups and you'll end up with something your dog wouldn't even touch. If you get your meat from a supermarket, each rack will be different, too, which adds to the time just being an estimate.

      Just look at the meat when you spritz it (I use a mix of water, worchester or bbq sauce and a good dark beer myself) . Once it looks ready, pick it up at one end and gently bounce it, if it breaks the full length of the ribs you're good. You'll get more comfortable at gauging 'done' after you've smoked a few racks, it's not an exact science.

      There are numerous websites dedicated to smoking meat. Spend some time on those, read the forums, sign up for newsletters, and invest in a good smoker. You'll be a backyard pro and skip going out for bbq after a few well informed tries.

      June 27, 2013 at 3:54 am |
      • Amsterdamn

        I forgot to mention that when using store bought ribs I prefer a good rub over a marinade. You can buy it at the store, or make your own. Apply a generous amount of mustard to keep the rub in place. The mustard will dissipate from the heat over time and you will not taste the mustard.

        June 27, 2013 at 3:59 am |
  10. muck

    Have never put vinegar in my brines, sounds like a good way to get another flavor involved. Next ones I do will try some apple cider vinegar. I like to rub on a layer of yellow mustard before the spice rub to give the spices something to stick to, instead of mustard powder in the rub.

    June 26, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
  11. dukeearl

    Marinades are also called Brines. 3/4 cup is correct.
    Also keep in mind that the comment about not opening the bbq is for charcoal fueled bbq's.
    Gas grills increase the heat when the lid is closed. Often tenting the ribs with aluminum foil works fine for gas fired grills.

    June 26, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • asdf

      Hank Hill is full of sh_t. Gas sucks and should be avoided.

      June 26, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
      • asdf

        especially for ribs, slow cooked in a charcoal or wood smoker is the only way to go.

        June 26, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
        • 9paintcan

          Thought part of the deal was having fun. Bet you're bunch of fun around the fire. Geez.

          June 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
        • Dave

          There are always more than one path from A to Z. I would rather use a dreaded gas grill with a chill group of people than a charcoal grill with a dogmatic, uptight rib Nazi.

          June 27, 2013 at 3:05 am |
        • Amsterdamn

          The article was about smoking ribs, no? You need charcoal/wood for that, not gas and pellets. You'd be better of putting them in the oven.

          June 27, 2013 at 4:07 am |
        • whorhay

          I prefer a charcoal smoker myself but Gas and Electric are also viable so long as you are still burning/charing some wood whether chunks, chips, pellets, disks or whatever to actually produce the smoke. The source of heat isn't really all that important. You could actually start the smoking process in a smoker for the flavor and then switch to an oven to finish them in a more controllable environment. Also depending on what you are smoking you don't always need heat, read up on cold smoking sometime.

          June 27, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  12. Thinking things through

    Yes, less salt, and personally, I leave the sugar OUT. To brown, add the juice from fresh fruit.

    June 26, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • dukeearl

      Leaving the sugar out will lack a nice caramel color. Leave it out if you want, but adding juice will tend to bleach the brown color and you will end up with a dingy grey color.

      June 26, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • The Carthaginian

      Leave the sugar out and use fruit juice........ because fruit juice isnt simply fructose (fruit sugar) and water right?

      You remind me of people that claim Honey (fructose) is healthy but cane sugar (glucose) isnt. I bet you buy "low fat" and "organic" stuff at the store too dont you?

      People are overweight because they overeat and are not active enough not because they replaced glucose with fructose in their BBQ marinade and left the salt in the recipe.

      June 27, 2013 at 12:19 am |
      • Thinking things through

        Actually, I use lemon or lime juice (depending on the rest of the marinate ingredients), both of which go a LONG way so you don't need as much as you would of, say, apple juice. Ends up being far less sweet, and much tastier to my tastebuds. I don't buy low fat products as they use sweeteners and other extenders to make those products attempt to be palatable. As for organic, it really depends on the food item. In many cases it is not important. As for the salt in BBQ - I definitely use some, but simply less than most recipes call for. Back to the sugar: I simply do NOT have a sweet tooth any more, and prefer the taste of other flavors.

        June 28, 2013 at 5:52 am |
  13. man, im craving some ribs

    those rub and marinade recipes look incredible!

    June 26, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • whorhay

      I can't recommend Meathead's Memphis Dust recipe enough. It is very similar and uses rosemary for an extra sweet flavor.

      3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
      3/4 cup white sugar
      1/2 cup paprika
      1/4 cup kosher salt
      4 tablespoons garlic powder
      2 tablespoons ground black pepper
      2 tablespoons ground ginger powder
      2 tablespoons onion powder
      2 tablespoons dried rosemary, ground to a powder

      June 27, 2013 at 10:40 am |
  14. yatayada

    I think its suppose to be either 3/4 tsp or 3/4 Tbsp salt

    June 26, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • Brian

      No, definitely 3/4 cup for a marinade. Call it a brine if you want. You need that salt in there.

      June 26, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
      • Beatnicholas

        Correct, 3/4 cup, just make sure it's kosher salt.

        June 26, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
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