Smoked Ribs

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Smoking came about purely by accident when early cavemen hung their meat up to dry in their caves. As the caves had very little ventilation for the smoke from the fire pit to escape, they quickly learn that the meat hanging closer to the source of the smoke tasted better and was better preserved than meat that was simply left out to dehydrate. As man evolved, the process of smoking for flavour was combined with curing techniques such as those involving salt or brine’s. Ribs, ham, bacon and sausages to name just a few smoked pork products have been around for millennial.

As have smoked fish and poultry and gaining in popularity are cheeses and vegetables as well.

Smoked ribs and ham happen to be a favorite because of how tender they are and how they literally fall off the one once they’re done. They also make excellent sandwiches.

There are various ways to smoke meat, fish and poultry but the most common are the hot and cold smoking methods. Hot smoking involves exposing the food to smoke and heat in a controlled environment. Hot smoking occurs within the range of 52 to 80 °C (126 to 176 °F), leaving the meat fully cooked, flavorful, moist and tender. With the cold smoking method, foods are baked, grilled, roasted, or sauteed before or after smoking. Smokehouse temperatures for cold smoking are typically done between 20 to 30 °C (68 to 86 °F).

In order to make smoked ribs or ham using the hot smoking process, the process is quite simple. You can marinate the ribs in whichever marinade you prefer and place them in the refrigerator, preferably overnight. Remove the ribs from the marinade, pat dry and using a meat or smoking hook hang the ribs up and allow to a skin to form, a couple of hours should suffice (there’s no problem at all if you do not wish to marinate the meat before smoking). The meat will form a thin film of protein called a pellicle and this will help the flavour of the smoking chips to adhere to the meat. Do exactly the same for cold smoking. The difference here is that you will have to cook the meat, fish or poultry you have cold before or after the smoking process.

For ribs and ham use aged liqueur barrel chips such as the cognac barrel smoking chips or fruit tree wood chips. Smoked ribs and pork are excellent accompanied by a puree of baked fruit and a spicy rustic mustard.

Alastair Picton