I don’t care how you cook up ribs – slow smoked; boiled before grilling, slow baked and finished over a nice charcoal or wood fire, or in this case slow cooked in a crock pot, the ribs MUST be trimmed. Most of the packages of ribs have already been trimmed of excess fat, the skirt steak removed and they look like they are ready to cook. Look again, on the back side (bony side) and you will see that shiny silver membrane. That has got to go. No two ways about it.
There’s debate in the barbecue world about whether this is even worth doing: Some people say the membrane inhibits smoke penetration, but not by much – if at all. The biggest advantage of removing it comes down to creating a better eating experience. Once cooked, the membrane can become papery, and while totally edible, texture isn’t very pleasing. What is the point of eating if the experience is unpleasant?
I used to dread this part of trimming ribs. It was the most difficult part of the process. And generally speaking, I was gouging the meat, making a complete mess of the back side of my ribs. That is until I learned a little trick recently that made it so easy. Slip a sharp knife under the membrane right about in the center of the rack of ribs. Carefully cut along, giving a little “lift” in either direction. This is your starting point and you need to only work the “magic” half way in one direction, then half way in the other. Basically, cutting the work into manageable pieced. Work your fingers under the membrane, lifting and moving until you have something to take hold of. Now, with a paper towel to help grip the slippery membrane, lift and pull from the center “slice” to the end. It should come off in one large piece. Repeat again in the opposite direction. There you go, nicely trimmed ribs ready for whatever cooking method you have in mind.
Let’s get this Crock Pot going . . . The finished ribs will be falling clean off the bone!
Crock Pot Barbecue Baby Back Pork Ribs
2 slabs of baby back pork ribs
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 Large Sweet onion
2 apples – Red Delicious or other sweet apple
1 jar Barbecue sauce
Slice each slab of ribs in half, season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to cook.
Slice the onion and the apples into large chunks. Lay a few chunks of onion and apple in the bottom of the crock pot. Place a slap of ribs over onion-apple layer. Pour a little barbecue sauce over ribs.
Place a second layer of onion-apple over ribs, a second slab of ribs on top with a little barbecue sauce.
Repeat the layering process until all the ribs are in the pot, and finish with a layer of onion-apple and barbecue sauce.
Set cooker to low heat and let cook for 8 to 10 hours.
Serve with Northern-Style Sweet Corn Bread.