Regular readers of the blog will know that I love to advocate using great quality bargain cuts of meat, even if that means a little bit of extra preparation. Using the less fashionable cuts means getting to enjoy great, outdoor reared, higher welfare meat without having to shell out the premium price tag – and these cuts also reward the creative cook by being, very often, some of the most interesting to eat!
I often have a couple of bags of pork ribs in the freezer, as offcuts from the pork belly I make my streaky bacon from. From that point of view, these ribs are basically free. Last time we had some friends over and I wanted a few extra, my butcher sold me a 6 -7 inch chunk for 50p. If you’re buying them as ‘ribs’ in packs from the supermarket, rather than as offcuts, you’ll pay more, of course. Yet another reason to cultivate your friendly local butcher, and develop a few basic butchery skills yourself.
This is how I expect your ribs will arrive – as a roughly square or rectangular piece with more or less loose tissue (from the diaphrgagm) attached to the inner (concave) side. There should not be very much meat on the outer (convex) side, as the belly meat should have been cut away.
If the belly is still there, you can either remove it and prepare it seperately – as bacon, or as a roast pork belly – or you can leave it attached and make really thick juicy ‘streaky ribs’. Beware, though, as these will be very fatty and consequently encourage your BBQ to flare up when cooked over coals. Pork belly is so wonderful, there are better ways to prepare it, in my opinion!
You need to divide up your rib portion into separate ribs, and this couldn’t be simpler. Looking at this inner side, feel where the ribs are with your finger tips, and identify the gap between them. Using a nice, sharp, long knife, place the blade midway between the ribs and cut parallel to them. There’s some cartilage attachment up at the ‘knuckle’ end of the ribs, but any plausibly sharp blade should slide straight through this (bonus hint – keep your kitchen knives *really* sharp – a sharp knife is a safe knife!).
Carry on until all your ribs are divided up. Now find a nice big dish large enough to contain them all reasonably snugly. Squeeze over the juice of half a lime, and a big glug of olive oil. Then sprinkle generously with your home-made dry jerk seasoning mix and rub in all over. Turn the ribs over and apply some more mix to the other side.
Once you’ve finished applying your rub, wash your hands carefully or they’ll end up stained an attractive nicotine-yellow from the turmeric. Cover the ribs and set aside in the fridge for at least an hour – if you’re able – before cooking.
Once your BBQ charcoal is smouldering gently, without any flame, put your ribs on the grill and cook until done. If I’m cooking for a large party, I like to start these ribs in the oven and then just finish them on the BBQ for that lovely open fire flavour without the extended cooking time. You’ll still get a great result. Then, sit back, and enjoy your tasty, juicy, spicy, bargain ribs with a nice cold drink!
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