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Culinary Anthropologist

It’s all about the Ribs baby!

by | Jan 23, 2014 | Blog

bbq ribs main photoToday I want to write and discover the most relevant information about the American fascination with these grilled, savory, tender and notorious charcoalist  kingsfordius and hickoriuos (like the wording, lol)  aromatic smell of grilled, succulent pieces of meat with rib bones of the famous livestock animal  that has become a culinary celebrity of recent times serving culinary connoisseur as a favorable jam, a savory jerky, or fried rinds before a favorable broth. There are festivals in its name all across the country. It’s  even on a annual tour (cochon 555) throughout the US! I myself participated in the event in Atlanta a few years ago and its amazing I might add.  What am I talking about? The omnivore itself the pig. The popular animal has brought an awakening to the culinary world.  Because of it butcher shops have  has came back into the  neighborhoods, chefs have made it the highlight of their menus, and livestock farmers have went back into business with raising the popular breeds such as Berkshire, Iberian, Yorkshire and the Cheshire white form Chester County, Pennsylvania.

For the past several months I’ve prepared family meals utilizing the various cuts of meat from this vicarious animal while applying different cooking methods like  pan searing, grilling, smoking and plain old BBQing. I’ve often used citrus, garlic, brown sugar, vinegars, rubs and marinades seeking to discover an unknown taste and texture that has loomed in my culinary mind and soul for days at end. I must the taste and flavor that pork ribs give are quite satisfying! I mean some good seasoned and marinated ribs grilled to perfection slathered with a simple concocted BBQ sauce with some coleslaw or potato salad and some lite bread ( white bread to some) and Red’s Apple Ale and I’m happy as fat kid with his favorite cake! I must admit everyone has their favorite cut of ribs. The cuts are various. As a kid my Dad always purchased spare ribs which he seasoned up with his blend of spices and parboiled  for a few hours in hot water with onions and beer. Funny combination but after he slow cooked them over a medium heat charcoaled grill for several hours they were the best with kraft bbq sauce (I’m a 70’s kid, that’s what we had back in the day). Other cuts like I’ve come to enjoy like the St. Louis cut ( one of my favorite cuts) that I’ve worked with as a Food and Beverage Manager/Executive Chef at Emory Healthcare here in Atlanta that we seasoned and put on the rotisserie as well as the oven which the customers loved as we served 3 to 4 bone segments and draped them with some Sweet Ray’s BBQ Sauce. They were indeed the bomb with mac and cheese, collard green and fresh baked corn bread muffins. This will put you in the mood for an afternoon nap. Now the cut that everyone raves about are the one and only baby backs that made Chili’s restaurants famous with their barber quartet commercial and the amazing shots of BBQ baby back ribs over an open flame. Applebee’s restaurants  also are known for their baby back as well. I imagine that both of this restaurant chains have sold millions upon millions of baby back ribs to their customers over the years. Some other well know restaurants that served these succulent and memorable ribs are Tony Roma’s, Corky’s,  Famous Dave’s, Dreamland BBQ, and JimnNick’s. The country style ribs are one of my favorites because its pretty much all meat with the exception of a little bone, but the tenderness of the meat you can’t beat.

Shelley "Butch"Anthony and son Telley Atlanta's own favorite BBQ Restaurant

Shelley “Butch” Anthony and son Telley Atlanta’s own favorite BBQ Restaurant This is It!

Now let’s not forget the rib-tips. If your from Atlanta you’ve heard the famous commercial from This is It! BBQ & Seafood Restaurant where the owner Shelley Butch Anthony belts out his famous line ” Its the rib tips.” I became acquainted with rib tips while working at the Covington Highway location in Decatur, Georgia early in my culinary  career which I learned a lot about the cooking and smoking process. I didn’t know that these small, yet tender pieces of meat were so good. I tell you he has some good BBQ there which is addictive!



Slicing St. Louis Cut Ribs for lunch service at Emory University Hospital Midtown

Slicing St. Louis Cut Ribs for lunch service at Emory University Hospital Midtown

Now lets switch gears and talk about seasoning blends and cooking methods. Everyone and I do mean everyone has a special cut of meat that they go goo goo over or my kids term “Ham” ( an expression fitted for this blog I may add). As you know there are hundreds maybe thousands of bby seasoning blends, rubs (dry and wet), marinades and sauces that are on the market. Some local, regional, nationwide and some made right out of home kitchen ( they’re the best I found).  I’ve come to the conclusion that the simplest blends and marinades produce the best flavor for you ribs. A rub of granulated garlic, onion, season salt, white pepper, cayenne, salt and cumin brings out the true flavor of pork. Or try a simple marinade of 1 part each of  light brown sugar, soy sauce, and yellow mustard does absolute justice on some ribs. Try and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Many chefs, grillers and home cooks perform murder on coming up with these complex and overdone rubs, marinades and seasoning blends  that has so many conflicting flavors and smells going off you can taste the meat at all. I hope you are not one of these individuals that I’m speaking of. If so there’s hope for you through this post. Keep reading because you’re going to learn today! Find spices and flavors that appeal to you the most. Build two or three flavor profiles that you like such as  sweet and sassy (honey, apple cider vinegar, pepper, salt, seasoned salt, granulated garlic)  or tropical (lime juice, pineapple, cumin, pimento seed, curry, granulated garlic, etc.) or  Asian ( light soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ground coriander, tomato paste, pepper, honey, orange juice). Learn to create your own special magic and perfect it, It will set you and your cooking style apart from the rest of the crowd and people will be drooling to have some your special prepared ribs!

Cooking Methods

For the best method you must ask yourself the question “What type of taste or aroma do I want my ribs to have”? Smoky, charcoal or woodsy aroma and taste in my meat delicacies. Personally speaking nothing beats the aroma and flavor of charcoal (Kingsford is still the best in my experience). Charcoal provides the meat with an  sort of primitive but  simple characteristic of  cooking over an open flame that goes back to ancient times when basically everything that people ate was cooked over an open flame with grates to keep the wild game from falling into the fire. Some of the basic tools needed to start your grilling career or hobby is a decent kettle shaped grill (18or 22 inch will suffice), good charcoal, lighter fluid, charcoal chimney, grill tool set, basting brush,  water bottle ( to calm down flare ups) and some garlic bulbs, onion hulls and fresh rosemary to give your meat a nice aroma while it cooks. Now your on your way. As you get into the fine art of grilling you’ll pick up new items and gadgets along the way such as fancy thermometers, skewers, cedar planks, fruit tree wood chips, marinades, spices, etc. It’s an adventure so pack lightly and keep your eyes and you nose open to new techniques, preparation, and presentation. You will learn from all types of cooks, backyard weekend grillers, chefs, uncles and aunts, old school pit masters and the new school smokers with their fusion style marinades, sauces and flavor enhancers. You can’t possibly go wrong unless you leave your food on the grill and go inside and forgot about  and once you realize you were grilling all your meat has caught on fire and is charred to blackness because you forgot to put the top on and close the vents!!!!! Awg! How many times has that happen to you? It has happen to all of us at some point or another, especially the novices. It’s  a rites of passage for the BBQ journeyman or woman. You must survive your learning curve.

Well, there you have it…. Ribs, the cuts, the eateries that made them famous to us, the seasoning and flavor techniques, equipment and products that will take your ribs to the next pigosphere or atmosphere of serene  utopia as you sit down at the table, role your sleeves up and partake of the most succulent, tender pieces of  sweet and savory protein morsels of meat that’s slathered in sweet tangy BBQ sauce that makes your lips smack and your tongue form a circle eight as your brain tells you that man  this is it! Simply stated its the Ribs Baby! It’s all about the Ribs baby. Give me some more and pass the light bread and tata salad. You know the vernacular! Until next time!

The Payoff —the finished meat


Special Note:  I recently had dinner at JimnNicks in Conyers, GA (my favorite bbq spot) with my wife and  some friends earlier this week and the food and service was very very very good. Sorry I forgot to take pictures while dining on some cheese filled corn muffins, fried green tomatoes, BBQ beef brisket and some baby backs (of course), mac and cheese and collard greens like Grandma’s with some soothing sweet tea and to top it off the the best pecan pie with a flaky crust that’s to die for! We had some much food that we just finished our doggy bag two days ago. The food quality and service was outstanding thanks to our server Sir Zacahry that made it a great experience. Please check them out and tell them Donnell sent you! Until next time….GO GET SOME RIBS AND GETTA QQQQING HERE IN GEORGIA AND ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY!  ITTA MAKE YA FEEL REAL GOOD DOWN ON THE INSIDE !