Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Note to Self:

If you insert a picture into an ordered list, Blogspot truncates it on the right (but it doesn't show up that way in the preview).

In a list, set img width to 97%. Grrrr.

Cooking Ribs on a Gas Grill

I say “cooking,” because it’s not really barbecuing. We have a gas grill that, had I read all about it first, we probably wouldn’t have. I always thought grills had four great advantages over oven-range combos: 1) exceptionally drippy messes stay outside, and you can just burn it off, 2) heat stays outside in summer 3) you can keep a grill hot for a long time with relatively little fuel, and 4) you can get some flavors unmatched by other cooking methods.

  1. Drippy messes. This grill’s user’s guide states that it is not designed for the burn-off cleaning method. Instead, you should let the grill cool somewhat and then use a wire brush while the grill is still warm. Let’s try that. Um, yeh, spreads the grease around real well—pretty swirly patterns—but it sure doesn’t get anything clean. I can just imagine the discussion that occurred between the marketing folks and the tech writer forced to write that drivel.

  2. Heat the outside, not the kitchen. Most instructions for doing ribs on a gas grill include either par-boiling, par-baking, or crocking them first. What’s the point, especially with par-boiling and crocking? Where’s the spice rub that puts all the lovely flavor into ribs?

  3. Keep the grill hot without a lot of additional fuel. Not only does our grill have no good way to install lava rocks for heat retention; the user’s guide expressly states that if you use them you void your warranty! Eh? I didn’t know there was such a grill, or I surely would’ve checked the guide before not buying!

  4. BBQ flavor. There’s no way to get smoke beneath the food, so you have to hope it gets there sideways from a smoke box that’s about six inches above the flame. Hmmmm.

Okay, tell me I need to buy a smoker. For one kind of food. I don’t think so. Having once had a great long-term relationship with a Weber Kettle and Kingsford, I guess I just don’t “get” gas grills. I’m actually starting to lose my aversion to having a charcoal grill on a deck. Am I crazy? Meanwhile, I guess instead of great ribs, I’ll just have to settle for pretty good ribs.

Here’s the sketch; ask if you want more detail.

  1. Remove the membrane from the concave side of the ribs. It’s a barrier to some of the flavors you want to add to the meat.

  2. Rub the ribs with a dry rub. It’s called a “rub,” not a “sprinkle,” so spend a little time and make sure all the surfaces are coated: rub it in there. This is a great one, http://www.bbqsearch.com/search/26655.shtm, although I usually halve the salt so I can taste the other spices. The cayenne and paprika in the chili powder give the ribs their deep red color.

  3. Let the ribs come up to room temperature for about two hours. If the sight of meat on a room temp counter bothers you, tent it with foil.

  4. Fire up the grill to about 225° F (107° C). Use the burners on one side of the grill only.

  5. Cut the racks to fit on a rib rack. Don’t have one? You can get one here, and, yes, it really makes a difference http://www.cookware.com/Grillpro-41614-GRL1015.html.

  6. Half fill a pan with water. This will go on the grill to help keep moisture in the ribs.

  7. Put the water pan on the flame side of the grill.

  8. Put the ribs on the cool side of the grill.

  9. Close the cover and sit back for at least 4 hours, 6 if you can wait that long; check the water occasionally and add more if necessary. Water is also a good indicator of grill temperature. If the water is forming bubbles at the bottom of the pan and generating steam, you’re in the right range; if you have a rolling boil, dial the heat down.

  10. About ten to twenty minutes before removing the ribs from the grill, brush them with your favorite sauce. I’ve become partial to Sweet Baby Ray’s.

(I couldn’t wait to eat long enough to take a picture of the finished product.)

If you want baked potatoes, allow an hour and a half to an hour and three quarters because of the low grill temperature.