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Offline Dean

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Country-style pork ribs
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2016, 11:44:33 AM »
  • CP/ form Cook Illustrated

    Country-style pork ribs are a favorite in the test kitchen—we’ve sliced them into small pieces for stir-fries and braised and shredded them for hearty ragus. But this cut is rarely prepared on its own, perhaps because the name causes confusion. Country-style ribs actually aren’t anything like baby back ribs or St. Louis–style spareribs, which are sold as racks of bones joined by collagen-rich meat that takes hours to turn tender. Instead, they are more like well-marbled pork chops: They’re a knife-and-fork cut, sold either boneless or with a portion of bone attached, containing both light, lean loin meat and a section from the dark, richly pork-flavored shoulder. And because they contain much less collagen, they cook quickly.So why not treat them like pork chops and feature them front and center in a recipe? Grilling seemed like a great option. The trick, I knew, would be getting the white and dark meat to cook evenly. The pork chops we’ve grilled in the past contain only meat from the loin, so I’d need to come up with my own cooking method for country-style ribs that produced a flavorful, nicely browned exterior and juicy interior throughout.
    We often brine or salt pork chops to help the meat stay juicy while it cooks. Since soaking chops in a saltwater brine would impede browning, it seemed more sensible to take a cue from barbecuing and apply a salt-heavy spice rub to my ribs, letting them sit to give the salt time to penetrate. I made a simple dry rub with chili powder, cayenne, a tablespoon of salt, and brown sugar, which would encourage browning while adding a complex sweetness. After coating the ribs with this spice mixture, I wrapped them tightly in plastic wrap and placed them in the fridge. A few stripped-down cooking tests showed that the ribs were nicely seasoned after just 1 hour but didn’t suffer from sitting in the fridge for a full 24 hours if I wanted to apply the rub the day before.
    Now it was time to move on to the key challenges. I decided to focus first on figuring out how much to cook the pork and then worry about the grill setup, so I began with a straightforward single-level fire, spreading 6 quarts of lit coals evenly over the grill. Though cooking the ribs to 175 degrees delivered perfect dark meat, the light meat was woefully dry. On the flip side, pulling the ribs off the grill when they reached 135 to 140 degrees produced juicy light meat but chewy, underdone dark meat. A compromise was in order. Tasters eventually voted in favor of ribs cooked to 150 degrees. The fat in the ribs moistened the light meat enough that the slight overcooking wasn’t noticeable, while the dark meat still had a little tug to it but was nevertheless reasonably tender—and very flavorful.All that was left was to fix the grill setup. On a single-level fire, the exterior of my ribs tended to dry out while I waited for the interior to come up to temperature. There were also hot and cool spots because of gaps between the coals, which meant that some ribs burned. When we want a combination of good char and a perfectly cooked interior, we often set up the grill with hotter and cooler sides, piling all the coals on one side; that was clearly the way to go here. I started the ribs over the more concentrated, even heat of the hotter side to produce excellent browning. I then finished them on the cooler side to slowly cook them through for juicy, tender results. On the cooler side, it was also easy to add sweetness and tang by basting the ribs with barbecue sauce and allowing it to slowly caramelize without burning.Country-style pork ribs might be a misnomer, but there’s no confusion that my recipe for sweet and tangy, meaty grilled pork was a winner

    « Last Edit: September 08, 2016, 11:46:31 AM by Jeff »

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