The first game is in the books and, while the team was flat, they notched the W.
The home opener is upon us, which means that it's FINALLY time to get ready to tailgate!
I hope you've been preparing the last few weeks because that will save you time over the next few days. That said, now is when you want to focus on your menu.
Since we're playing Memphis, I've decided to honor the great tradition of Memphis BBQ this week by smoking pork spare ribs. Another factor playing into this decision is the fact that they are on sale this week at Albertsons for $1.99/lb.
Preparation At Home
Friday night, you'll want to prep your ribs. Start by pulling off the thin membrane off the back of the ribs. No one wants to eat that and it will keep your rub from intensifying the flavor of your meat.
Once you've removed the membrane, take your favorite rub and sprinkle it generously on your meat. Then gently rub it into it. Hey, it's called a rub for a reason!
Take your seasoned ribs, wrap them in foil and refrigerate them overnight.
Mixing your own BBQ Rub is easy! You just need a bowl and a collection of your favorite spices. My all-purpose BBQ rub contains eight ingredients: Paprika, Brown Sugar, Black Pepper, Kosher Salt, Onion Powder or Dried Chopped Onion, Garlic Powder, Chili Powder and Cayenne Pepper. I use equal parts for the first 6 and 1/2 to 2/3 of the first 6 for the last two. So, if you're using a Tablespoon of the first 6, then you should use probably about 2 teaspoons of Chili Powder and Cayenne Pepper.
Mix it well and sprinkle it generously. I've never heard anyone complain that there was too much rub on my BBQ.
To smoke your ribs, you will need wood chips. My personal preference is apple wood, but hickory would work really great too. You'll want to pre-soak these in water for a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour (longer is better), then drain them and toss them in a zipper bag for transport to the game.
As you get your fire going, you want to set up your grill for indirect grilling. If you're using charcoal, that means putting all your coals on one side of your grill and your meat on the other so the meat is not directly above the fire. If you're using gas, simply turn on one side of the grill and place your meat on the other. Take your smoker box, filled with wood chips, and place it above your fire.
A rib rack is a great tool to have if you're looking to make more than one rack of ribs.
Now, that your grill is ready, take the ribs out of the foil and place them on the cool side of your grill. You don't want to grill your ribs with foil on them. For starters, that will lengthen the cooking time. It will also keep the smoke from infusing into the ribs. So, don't do that.
You want to leave them alone now for at least an hour. Go have a beer, throw the ball around or do just about anything else. If you're making spare ribs, they will probably take two hours while baby back ribs will probably take about an hour and a half. You will know they're done when the meat has shrunk back from the ends of the bones. It's that easy!
To Sauce Or Not To Sauce?
This is an age-old BBQ question. True Memphis-style BBQ does not use sauce. I'll be bringing a bottle with me for anyone who chooses to add some, but I'll strongly suggest they take a bite or two without any to see if they still want it.
Well, that wraps up this edition of Tailgating, UCLA-Style. What are you making at your tailgate this weekend? Let us know in the comments.
Until next time, Bon Appetit! And.....