Brined brisket is corned beef or one of the first steps towards pastrami. A short brine doesn't do much for a brisket, and a long one substantially changes the product. In theory, brining brisket for regular barbecued brisket is a sign of not knowing how to make brisket; and in my expereince injecting works much better for everything you'd want brining to do. Wrapping is a huge help -- especially for people whose pits aren't really tight or who have trouble with fire management.
Cooking is a practical art. If your friend makes great brisket by brining, good for him. Reality beats theory everytime -- except in politics and religion. If he's interested, have him take a look at this: Barbecue Brisket - An XI Step Program.
Brining is especially useful for proteins in danger of drying out. For 'Q, it's practically mandatory for fish, and a very good idea for poultry breasts and leaner cuts of pork which can go tough and dry -- like loin, especially if they're thin like chops. I fooled around with brining quite a bit a few years ago -- and was brining nearly everything. I used to brine pork ribs a lot, but do it less often now.
If I were cooking ribs in a contest, or catering, or cooking for some sort of restaurant -- I'd seriously think about it. That little bit of extra moisture and sweetness in the meat might be worth the risk of dueling with the salt. Might.
If you're a backyard cooker (and who isn't?). why not play with both methods? What could it hurt?
As to the original question, I like ribs of so many sorts in so many ways. My two favorites are usually whatever I had last, and whatever I'm having next. In addition to everything we've talked about already there are plenty of "exotic" ethnic ribs -- Mexican, Chinese, Cambodian, Armenian, and on and on. I love 'em all.
For smoked pork ribs, I preach and teach 3,1,1 and 2,1,1 -- without brining. IIRC, Dan's tried my pork rib Guide for the Beginning Genius with pretty good success. Sometimes I like to cook them without wrapping. Linda likes them on the softer, wetter side, so I usually wrap.
Unfortunately I've been beaten down by competition standards to the point where I automatically equate "fall of the bone" with "mush;" but I've had some good rib mush, so wotthehell woththehell.
One thing we haven't talked about is pork ribs as an ingredient. When they're on deep sale, you can buy a couple of racks, smoke, portion and freeze. Then use the way you'd use ham hocks or bacon to flavor long cooked vegetables or braises.
I love barbecued beef ribs. Not just the rib ribs, but the short ribs too. But oh those Flinstone ribs. My mother loved them too. I have very fond memories of her holding court at the tables of several rib joints waving her rib like a scepter as she talked.
Miss you Mom,
Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/17/10 at 9:13am