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Once the ribs have been cleaned, it is now time to season them up. But before applying the rub you plan on using, many championship rib master will apply a light to medium coating of standard yellow French's mustard. YES, mustard. This does several things for the ribs. First, it helps keep them moist. Second, it helps to hold the rub on the meat. Third, over a 4 to 6 hour period, it develops a nice tender crust on the ribs. And lastly, you cannot taste the mustard after that length of cooking time.
Now to apply the rub. Here is where you need to experiment. Everyone has their own taste buds and therefore seasoning is a preference type of thing. There are many rib rubs on the market and we suggest you trying them all until you find one to your liking. If you are the experimental natured person, then we suggest you work on combination of mixes and find out which one has that special taste you are seeking. Common ingredients of rib rubs consist of: salt, sugar, brown sugar, turbinado sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, hungarian paprika, peppers of all types, chili powder, and many, many more.
After the ribs have been rubbed, allow the meat to rest and absorb the seasonings. You may wrap the ribs in foil or plastic and place them in the cooler or refrigerator for several hours. If you want to break the process into two parts, then trim and season the ribs one evening and cook them the next! It makes for great entertainment and less rushing about if you are a late sleeper or want to eat early!
Now, it's time to cook . . . . .
Ribs do not need the long intense cooking times as do briskets, shoulders and whole hogs. With temperatures in the range of 200 degrees to 220 degrees, the task may be completed in as little as 4 to 6 hours. That provides plenty of time to enjoy your favorite beverage, talk barbecue and enjoy friends and the relatives of choice.
The actual barbecuing of the ribs can take several forms. It helps to have a larger cooking surface where you can lay the ribs down (curve up like ^ this) with the ends touching the surface instead of the rib meat. This allows for even cooking temperatures on all surface of the ribs. Notice these ribs are being cooked in a "vertical" fashion. If you are cooking on a smaller unit - even a Weber(tm) Kettle or Kingsford(tm) Grill, then we suggest purchasing a rib rack.
This is a metal unit that holds the ribs upright like books in a bookshelf, but prevents them from touching. The disadvantage of using a smaller unit is that there will be more heat on the outside ribs than the ones in the middle of the rib rack. (We are assuming, of course, you are cooking more than one rack of ribs!)
Beneath the ribs lies a pan of water to trap juices, help maintain the heat level around 220 degrees and provide some moisture to the cooking chamber. Never cook any meat being barbecued over the direct heat source. Always use indirect heat! In this example, using a smaller grill to cook the ribs, hardwood charcoal is then burned on either site of the pan providing "offset" heat - - - as opposed to "direct heat" (i.e. grilling). You may also use charcoal briquettes. Since briquettes contain more fillers that hold the briquettes together, more frequent removal of ash will be required. When using the rib racks on the smaller units, ribs are rotated
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