MYTHS ABOUT SMOKING RIBS
Myth #1: Boil ribs to make them tender
A lot of folks boil their ribs. Don’t do it! You wouldn’t boil a steak would you? When you boil meat and bones, you make flavorful soup. That’s because water is a solvent that pulls much of the flavor out of the meat and bones and makes the meat mushy. Boiling also removes vitamins and minerals. That’s why the water is cloudy when you’re done. That’s flavor in the water. DOH! Taste tests have shown that ribs are most flavorful when roasted. If you are in a hurry, you are better off steaming or microwaving ribs and then finishing them on the grill or under the broiler. Just don’t boil ’em if you want max flavor! If you boil ribs the terrorists win.
Myth #2: The best ribs fall off the bone
Barbecue judges agree: Properly roasted ribs are tender but still have some chew, similar to a tender steak. They don’t fall off the bone. If they do, chances are they have been OVER COOKED, or boiled. Click here to learn what the experts think Amazing Ribs taste like.
Myth #3: Thermometers are for sissies
I don’t care what the TV chef said, you cannot tell anything about the temp of a grill is by holding your hand over the grate and counting “1001, 10002, 1003″ until your palm bursts into flame. Each of us reacts differently to heat, and the heat 1″ above the grate can be significantly different than 6” above. Maybe an old pro who cooks 100 steaks a night can do this parlor trick, but you cannot.
Likewise, you may have also heard that you can tell the doneness of a steak by poking it and comparing the bounciness of the meat to the tip of your nose or the flesh between your thumb and forefinger. As if everyone’s hand has the same firmness and bounciness! As if a filet mignon has the same firmness and bounciness of a sirloin! Lookit, almost all professional chefs carry a meat thermometer in their chef’s coat. There’s a reason.
Finally, you cannot rely on popup thermometers in turkeys, and most dial thermometers built into grills are waaaaay off, often 50°F, and the temp in the dome is different than the temp on the cooking surface.
The single most important thing you can do to improve your cooking is get a good digital thermometer for your grill and another for food.
Myth # 4: Soak wood before using it
When I soaked wood chunks overnight, they gained about 3% by weight. Chips gained about 6%. I cut the chunks in half and penetration was only about 1/16″. DOH! That must be why they make boats out of wood! Wood doesn’t absorb much water! If you toss wet wood on a hot grill, the small amount of water just below the surface will evaporate rapidly, negating any effect of soaking. On charcoal, the wet wood cools off the coals when it is important to hold the coals at a steady temp. Learn more about the Science of Wood.
Myth #5: The juices from a steak are blood
If they were blood they would be dark, almost black, like your blood. And they would be thick and coagulate. No, the blood is drained during slaughter. The juices on your plate are a protein rich liquid called myoglobin, so stop grossing out your kids by calling it blood. Click here to read more about meat science.
Myth #6: Always use tongs, never forks
Don’t worry about poking holes in the meat. A steak is 70% liquid (much of that myoglobin), so if you poke a hole in a 16 ounce steak and it loses 1/4 ounce of juice, you’ll still have more than 9 ounces of fluid left. When you cook, however, you can lose up to 20% from evaporation and dripping. That’s more than 3 ounces.
For more “Myths” About Smoking Meat Check Out: