Cook It Right

A selection of cooking tips and hints to help you cook your meat to perfection.

  • Get BBQ Ribs Right

    Ribs. If you like your meat, chances are you'll be a sucker for these.

    When cooked properly, ribs are a beautiful thing. The meat should be soft and melting, but still full of flavour from being cooked on the bone. The sauce should be sticky, with a good balance of sweet and heat, and a smoky undertone. Proper finger food, you face should be covered in a grin after you've eaten these - and probably a fair bit of BBQ sauce.

    But if you get them wrong, ribs will be pretty  tough and stringy - pretty much inedible to be honest. We have picked the brains of our expert butchers, to find out their tried and tested method for achieving perfect BBQ ribs. If you want to know how to cook ribs well, read on.


    The Ribs

    First things first. The perfect pork ribs recipe starts with the ribs (obviously). There are two types of pork ribs you can choose between.  Baby back ribs are cut from the top of the rib cage, and so are shorter, fatter in shape and a bit meatier. Side ribs (also known as spare ribs) come from the lower belly side of the pig; these ribs are generally longer, thinner, and contain a bit more fat.

    Which would our butcher choose? Side ribs every time. Have you heard of the saying 'fat means flavour'? Well its true, and it also means that side ribs end up much more tender than baby back ribs, which is why we only stock side ribs. Half a rack (4-6 ribs per person) should be plenty for a main meal, unless your greedy (which I would be if were taking about these BBQ ribs)!

    home butchers spare ribs Home Butchers quality Northern Irish pork ribs

    Preparation

    Now you've got your ribs, the first thing you need to do is check that the membrane has been removed from the back, and if it hasn't, remove it. This is quite easy to do, watch a useful video here.

    Then you can prepare your ribs for a long slow braising. Preheat your oven to around Gas Mark 3/160°C. Make a quick spice rub for your ribs - I like to use equal parts brown sugar, salt, smoked paprika and garlic powder (1 tbsp of each per full rack of ribs), then season to taste with pepper and chilli powder.  Place the seasoned ribs into a deep roasting tin, and cover with braising liquid. I use half beer/sweet apple cider and half water. Cover with tinfoil and cook for 2-2.5 hours, until the ribs are tender, and the meat has shrunk away from the ends of the bones.

    The Sauce

    The BBQ sauce you choose for your pork ribs recipe is a very personal thing. You can of course buy some ready made from the supermarket. These can be perfectly tasty,  but you have gone to so much effort learning how to cook ribs - why take a short cut now!?

    You can make the BBQ sauce while the ribs are cooking away, or you can make it in advance and store it in the fridge for a few days - or in the freezer for months. I love Jamie Oliver's BBQ sauce recipe, which includes all kinds exciting things like ginger and fennel, but for a more traditional BBQ sauce, head to BBC Food. Coat the ribs in the sauce and leave for 1-24 hours, to let the flavours sink in.

    sauce for bbq ribs

    Cooking

    Fire up that BBQ, lets get grilling. For that slightly caramelised, slightly smoky taste, the BBQ is the only way to go - this is a BBQ ribs recipe after all! The ribs will need to be cooked for around 20 minutes, with regular turning, and basting with that delicious BBQ sauce you made, until they are piping hot, crispy and wonderfully sticky.

    And there you have it. BBQ Ribs!

    ribs recipe

    Image Credits
    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/dplanet/339581468" title="BBQ Sauce by Dplanet::, on Flickr"><img src="https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/144/339581468_7ec052b9ac.jpg" width="500" height="375" alt="BBQ Sauce"></a>
    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/familyclan/15140832740" title="barbecue ribs, pork by David McSpadden, on Flickr"><img src="https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5572/15140832740_dc904491b6.jpg" width="500" height="230" alt="barbecue ribs, pork"></a>
  • Get Pork Crackling Right.

     

    This is the first of our “Cook it Right’ posts, designed to pass on a little of our insider knowledge and show you how to cook your meat to juicy, tender, melting perfection.

    We are starting off with a one of those meaty treats that is pretty close to our hearts; the amazing crunchy crackling that sits atop a joint of roast pork. Get this right, and you've added significantly to your arsenal of kitchen tricks that make dinnertime extra special. This pork crackling recipe will work every time.


    The Joint

    Choosing the right pork joint is half the battle. A good crackling joint needs to have a thick rind with a layer of softer fat underneath to keep the meat juicy. Several cuts of pork will work a treat, but the end result will taste different:

    Loin

    A loin of pork will make excellent crackling as it has a layer of rind and fat running over the top of the joint. The meat itself is very lean with little or no fat running through it. This is a prime cut and very tender, so will require the least cooking of the three.

    pork loin for crackling

    Shoulder or Leg

    Both working joints, these are fattier cuts that require low and slow cooking. The resulting meat will be juicy but can be very tough (even inedible)  if undercooked

    shoulder of pork crackling

    Belly

    The fattiest joint by far, belly meat has wide ribbons of fat and sinew running through the meat, which, when cooked correctly, make this joint very juicy and tender. The layer of fat running over this joint can also result in amazing crunchy crackling.

    rolled pork belly

    Whatever cut you go for, don’t forget, it’s all about the rind!

    Preparation

    The next stage is to prepare the joint properly to get the most crunch for your crack(ling). We have tried a few cracking prep methods in our time, but this has become our favourite as it is minimal effort but the results are mega!

    STEP 1: The night before you plan to cook the joint, scald the rind by pouring boiling water over the surface. The sudden heat forces the rind to shrink, pulling it away from the meat. Pat the meat dry with a clean tea towel then leave the meat uncovered in the fridge to dry out completely.

    STEP 2: A couple of hours before cooking, remove the meat from the fridge, as it needs to be cooked from room temperature. Score the rind of the pork deeply at regular intervals, and rub a liberal amount of salt into the newly created cracks and crevices of the rind

    Cooking

    Preheat your oven to its maximum temperature - good crackling needs heat! Put your joint into the oven for 20-30 mins undisturbed, until you can start to see the rind puffing up,  before turning the temperature down to something a little more reasonable.

    If you have gone for belly, shoulder or leg joints, wrap the joint in tinfoil (leaving the rind uncovered) and cook it low and slow - 170°C/ gas mark 3, for 2-6 hours, or until the meat can be pulled apart with a fork. Baste the rind regularly with boiling fat from the pan.
    If you have gone for a loin joint, turn the oven down to 180°C/gas mark 4 and cook for around an hour, basting the rind regularly with boiling fat from the pan. The meat should be cooked until the juices run clear and of course the pork crackling should be crunchy perfection!  If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be 71°C.

    pork crackling The finished joint of crackling pork!

     

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