Meat and Greet: Welcome to Grilling Season!

by Jen Wanous

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!  In honor of the christening of summer, and of my bestie, Bridgie’s b-day today, this post is on her favorite grilled goodness: ribs.  I know, fire and raw meat can be scary, but don’t be afraid, YOU can do it!  Light up that barbie and get the the choicest cuts this summer, your taste buds will thank you.

This week, I took a pig butchering class.  I thought it would be a good to balance my resume given my mostly vegetarian culinary training.  Plus, pork is my favorite meat product and it’s time that we properly met.

When I walked into the class, they had cozies and cans of Bud waiting.  Half a pig was splayed out on a stainless steel table and a pack of giddy Wall Street guys were beside themselves with anticipation.  I was less emotionally moved by the half carcass than I thought I would be. More intriguing was discovering the exact location where bacon and lard live.  Hand-held hack saws were used and two very sharp knives.   The two cans of Bud I had downed by the middle of the class made it all seem more like a fun butchering party than anything else.  Following the natural arcs of bone structure and muscles made for a surprisingly easy deconstruction of this 120 pound pig.

With the sanitized industrialization of food production, we have become so disconnected from the source of our food.  We are used to our boneless, skinless chicken breasts in styrofoam plastic-wrapped perfect portions.  We get grossed out by meat product that resembles what it looks like in life and we are paralyzed by the risk of contamination.  Be brave my friends, get different cuts of meat and be creative in how you cook it.  Of course, grilling is one of the best ways to bring some cuts of meat to their prime glory.

There are several different types of ribs to get.  Country Style Ribs are the meatiest consisting of the rib end of a pork loin.  Spare Ribs have great flavor, a good balance of fat and meat and are therefore loved by BBQ enthusiasts.  They are the large ribs that you would usually picture at a BBQ.  They require a low heat and slow cooking method.  Baby Back Ribs are smaller and have a pronounced curve to them. They are not as fatty as spare ribs and for that reason require less cooking time.  They are more expensive then spare ribs and if over cooked can turn out tough.  St. Louis Cut Ribs are often confused with baby backs but they are less curved and have more fat and meat on the bone.

Get the highest quality of meat you can afford.  Even if you have to sacrifice quantity, your body and environment will thank you.

Here is a link to a website that will walk you through step-by-step on how to BBQ ribs with your charcoal grill.  Click here.

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