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Rib question could use the help.

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I am entering a BBq competition in a few months I was wondering if brining st louis spar ribs is worth the time and effort. I was thinking kosher salt, light brown sugar, chipotle. I need some help with this idea this is why I am bringing it up on the website. Id love some feedback. Thank you all.

post #2 of 7

Your rub sounds good.  What really matters at a BBQ competition,(most of the rubs will be good) is technique to get the balance of tenderness, cararmalizing and smokiness and the sauce better be made by you reflect the rub and be awesome.


post #3 of 7

be careful with the brown sugar, depending on how you plan to cook them, it burns fairly easily at higher end hot smoking temperatures...and will definately burn if you directly grill them... a little char is good....  to be safe I would exclude it from the rub an add it toward the end of cooking... also try wet brining the ribs for a day or so, watch the salt, and weigh heavier on the sugar if your going for a sweeter taste, dry them thoroughly and dry rub them before you smoke them, or grill them... if you cant smoke them try braising them for a bit in the brine, until just tender and then finish them on the grill.... and DONT USE BRIQUETTES!!!!! use lump charcoal... also if your not able to smoke them, use some liquid smoke in your brine, it works... 

post #4 of 7

Pre-bake your ribs in coca cola before you season them or anything. It makes them really sweet and tender. 

post #5 of 7

To brine or not to brine? 


It's a question most rib competitors ask, and a technique most of them (us?) try at least once.  It's of limited use with ribs.  You can do it, but it won't do that much for you.  The meat's thin enough for ordinary marinating or "dry" marinating to get plenty of penetration.  And moisture and tenderness depend a lot more on the quality of your ribs and the quality of your cooking than on brining. 


Also, you're going to have to adjust your rub to compensate for the saltiness which results from brining.


Of course, a lot depends on your cooker as well.  When I used a draftier smoker (Bar-B-Chef) than my current rig (Backwoods Smoker), I thought brining ribs was "barely worth it, but worth it."  Now, I've given it up as "almost, but not quite worth the trouble and the risk of over-salting."  But I'm not competing -- or even helping out -- anymore. 


Because it's so much of a YMMV situation, it's a question you need to answer for yourself with your practice cooks.   The same is true regarding wrapping and/or mopping.


Advice from other people is all well and good but doesn't really go very far.  You also want to consider the source. 




Regarding flavor profiles in general, and rubs, brines, marinades, mops and sauces in particular, talk to people with a lot of experience in the particular type of comp (KCBS, MIM, or...?).  Try and hook up with someone who's placed well and see if you can't try some samples.  If you want to score near the top, you've got to bear in mind that you're cooking for the judges, and not for anyone else.  You have to appeal to their regional tastes as well as the institutional tastes of the sponsoring organization.  


Chicken?  It's brine or lose, pretty much.


Let me know what you think,



PS.  Remind me to tell you the apple story.

Edited by boar_d_laze - 4/22/12 at 12:19pm
post #6 of 7

Personally much prefer a mustard slather as a "marinade" for 30 minutes to overnight depending on the rules of the competition, followed by a dry rub. Have had great success with "no sauce ribs" in competitions. Usually spritz with a mixture of light beer, "must-slath" and cherry or apple juice. 


If you choose to brine and have or are not allowed any night before preparation, you can vac marinade to speed up the process. (get the largest glass jar gallon+ you can with a screw top, take a knife and put a slit in the middle of the lid, cover loosely with electric tape, coil your ribs, cover with cold brine use your vac sealer attachment to pull a vacuum and the tape will seal and keep the vac) there are also some pretty expensive commercial vac units you can buy as well. 


IMHO boiling ribs = flavor loose, IF you choose to pre cook, pressure cook low moisture with flavored liquid, flat beer, wine etc for no more than 10 minutes, slath, dry rub and grill or smoke to finish.



IF you choose to use liquid smoke, be v-e-r-y careful with the amount. Here's one of my tricks to make your own. If you want mesquite or maple liquid smoke, take a triple layer of cheese cloth, soak it in bottled water wring it out, place on your smoker grates and cold smoke for at least an hour, with your wood Du jour, put the smoked cloth into a pot with bottled water, boil to remove the smoke and reduce to the desired strength. If you use this and win, I expect pictures and a by line!


Best of luck,



"Ars Est Celare Artem"


True art, is to conceal art......


"Ars Est Celare Artem"


True art, is to conceal art......

post #7 of 7

I have had the opportunity to compete with pitmasters like Dr. BBQ. His book "Dr. BBQ's Big Time BBQ Cookbook is always near my side when I am making good Q. I usually always use Sugar In The Raw instead of Brown Sugar. Good luck.

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