Uncle Doug’s Famous Ribs

One of my brother’s specialties.  The ribs will be flavorful, and fall-off-the-bone tender if you follow the instructions. 

Directions:  Buy the ribs uncooked and unprocessed (pork or beef). Try to find ribs that have a lot of meat on them. The meat is on top of the rib, so you can generally tell the thickness by pressing the top of the rib with you fingers. If the rib is too thin, the meat will cook off the bone and you’ll have a hard time grilling them. They still taste great, but they can be messy. The thicker the better.

If you buy beef ribs, make sure to tear off the membrane on the bottom of the bone side of the rib. This can be difficult, depending on the rib. If you’re lucky it’ll peel right off once you get a hold of a corner. If not, you may have to work a bit to get it off. Babyback ribs also have a membrane, and you may take a shot at pulling it off. In my experience, the membrane on babybacks is negligible and cooks just fine.

The basic cooking steps are:

1) Prep the ribs

2) Wrap in foil

3) Bake in the oven for a few hours

4) Take them out of the oven, remove the foil and cook on the grill to crisp them up

5) Serve ’em hot!

Here’s the details:

1) The preparation is everything. Really you can’t go too wrong on this step, but if you are a rib aficionado — this makes all the difference. And feel free to experiment as well. My favorite prep is to slather the ribs in brown mustard. It seems extreme, but cover the entire slab with a thick layer of brown mustard. The mustard cooks off in the oven and just leaves behind a little flavor in the meat. If you don’t want to use mustard, any rub will work just fine. Feel free to throw the kitchen sink at it. Everything cooks off in the oven, so overload it up front. Otherwise, you are just cooking plain-old meat. Where’s the fun in that?

The second key to the prep is the liquid marinade. You MUST have lots of liquid when cooking in the oven. If you don’t have enough moisture, the ribs will be very dry and taste terrible. If you have to make a mistake, use too much liquid. The worst case is you waste some. But, your ribs won’t be ruined. But don’t drown your ribs in a pot of juice and bake it all in the oven. That’s just another form of boiling. You want enough liquid to allow the ribs to steam in the oven for the entire cooking time. If all the liquid steams away in an hour, then your ribs will be drying out for the remaining cooking time. Give it enough liquid without completely submerging the ribs.

What liquid? Just about anything. My personal favorite is Pepsi because it puts a little sweet glaze on the ribs. Seems to work great with the mustard. I don’t know why. I’ve also used wines, marinades, juices (orange juice is awesome), various barbeque sauces — just about anything really. Feel free to mix any of the above. Whatever you use, just make sure that it has flavor and there’s enough liquid to produce steam for a few hours.

2) Wrap the ribs in foil. There are several ways to do this. You can wrap the rib slabs individually into packets. But, you need to be careful if you do it this way. It’s easy to get too little liquid in the packet and then you have a dry rib. Another way is to put the ribs in a two-inch glass baking dish. Rub them down, pour in the liquid and wrap the whole thing in foil. This is the recommended way, if you’re not used to baking ribs in the oven.

3) Cook at 325-350 degrees for 3-4 hours. If you cook less than three hours, they won’t fall off the bone nicely. If you cook more than four hours, they’ll be dry or they’ll be so soft you can’t eat them like a rib. 4 hours is usually ideal, but if you don’t have that much time, 3 hours doesn’t produce results very different.

4) When you take them out of the oven, if you used mustard rub, you may notice a thin film of cooked mustard on the rib, or you may not. It really depends on the type of liquid marinade and how much you used. Either way, the mustard flavor has cooked out, and you’re gonna cover the ribs in barbecue sauce. Don’t worry, they’ll taste great.

Unwrap the ribs, and brush them liberally with your favorite barbeque sauce. Don’t waste time putting sauce on the bone side — there’s no meat there. Cook the ribs on a hot BBQ grill for 5-10 minutes. Put the ribs on the grill, bone-side down. Don’t worry too much about the flame underneath. The bone will protect the rib from getting scorched, even if the bone turns black. You can close the grill top while cooking so the barbeque sauce to get a little crispy. The inside of the ribs will still be plenty moist and will fall right of the bone when eaten. Don’t overdo it on the grill. You can’t really ruin it, but it’s easy to dry it out more than you think.

5) Pull them off the grill and serve directly, if you can. If not they reheat in the microwave just fine.

Author: Gordon Daugherty

Over the past 15 years Gordon has seen nearly 1,000 startup pitches, advised more than 200 entrepreneurs and been involved with raising over $45M in growth and venture capital. Throughout his 28 year career in high tech, serving twice as President and three times as CMO, Gordon has both an IPO and a $200M acquisition exit under his belt. Now his emphasis is purely focused on helping startups and early stage tech companies. Through his Shockwave Innovations advisory practice and as Managing Director for Austin’s Capital Factory startup accelerator, Gordon is an active angel investor, VC and startup advisor.

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