View Full Version : Regarding rib texture

07-04-2011, 12:17 PM
At the risk of "Q-ing" everyone in my lack of experience, I need to ask what may be a rookie question for many folks: What finished texture am I looking for on my ribs at competitions? Am I looking for a crusty bark, or a softer outer texture? Thanks for any advice, I'm struggling here.

07-04-2011, 01:37 PM
Well, here's a perfect example of how taking the KCBS judging class AND backing that up by judging at least 10 contests will reveal all there is to know about what the judges are looking for and what the other teams are turning in.

A crusty bark would probably not be well received. However, this is how I like my ribs at home. I like them really done well, fat all rendered out, fall off the bone. But that's NOT what the KCBS guidelines are looking for. Cooking to KCBS guidelines makes for an additional challenge that makes the rib category a competition because not everybody can hit it just right.

The ribs should be cooked so that when a bite is taken from the center of the length of the rib that the bite should pull cleanly from the bone without taking any of the meat from either side along with the bite. The bone should dry almost immediately (although I never count anyone down for it not drying immediately because that seems to be more a function of how hot the bone is) and the meat should be moist and flavorful, possessing a good texture - but not have a mushy mouth feel.

The juicier, the better. And definitely a soft surface. The current style is for ribs to be almost as candied up as the chicken . . . but I don't know that candied up is really necessary. Quite a few judges comment that it's a wonderfully refreshing change of pace when a dry-rubbed rib, maybe spritzed down with a little apple juice near the end, comes to the table.

I hope this helps . . .

07-04-2011, 01:52 PM
It helps more than you know; thanks for taking a minute to respond.

07-04-2011, 10:32 PM
It helps more than you know; thanks for taking a minute to respond.
You're very welcome. I'm sure there are many other opinions here - everyone's just out enjoying their holiday.

If you have any follow up questions please feel free to ask. You have stumbled upon one of the most helpful, kind, courteous (well, OK, maybe not courteous), thrifty, brave, clean and reverent bunch of competition BBQ peoples you'll ever meet.

07-05-2011, 09:18 AM
great advice above!
i would add to also finely mill your rubs for competitions, and layer and set rubs with sauce. be careful not to brush off the rub while brushong on the sauce though!

Lake Dogs
07-05-2011, 09:28 AM
^^^ Great advice. Also know that different sanctioning bodies define that perfect rib slightly different, and some dont define it at all. Crusty bark doesn't play in any that I know of. If they dont define it, fall-off-the-bone might be acceptable. MBN (ala. MIM) defines it slightly different where the meat should pull cleanly from the bone with only a slight resistance. There's probably 15+- minutes difference in cooking these ribs vs. KCBS's definition. Similar, but different.

07-05-2011, 10:00 AM
Well, based on the above comments--thanks again--I'm on track to the preferred texture. I, too, like my ribs a bit more well done, but at this point in the game, learning to give the judges what they want is my objective. I am interested in the comment about setting the rub with sauce. Without wearing out my welcome, what's the basic strategy in that process?

Oh, and by the way, I do have to say how impressed I have been with everyone's level of civility, friendliness and helpfulness.

Lake Dogs
07-05-2011, 10:10 AM
You can be forgiven a few sins in non-sanctioned competitions, but in sanctioned the level/quality of the product goes WAY WAY WAY up. For a winning entry, each piece is darned near BBQ nirvana.

For us, we'd experimented with many sauces and a few different rubs and injections and had fair success. However, we finally had a big shin-dig where I started with 16 (as best I recall) base sauces and made the pork and briskets using 2 different injections (each) with what I felt was a very nice rub on each. I had 6 main taste testers, but another 6 lurkers. We snarfed and dabbled, this and that. Even for fun we took bets on which sauce would be the best. For what it's worth, we all lost. We ended up merging 3 of the base sauces. That combination works for us. It compliments the meat flavors and doesn't overpower it. Many of our favorite sauces ended up conflicting with the flavors of the meat and rub. Make sure they... marry, if you will.

For us, I make the sauce, then thin it down (using water). I apply it when it's VERY hot, with a sauce paint brush, very lightly so as not to rub the rub off of the meat. We then allow it to set up on the meat for 5 minutes.

That's what works for us. There are probably literally thousands of variations that work. Practice and you'll find the one that works for you.

Have fun. It's a journey; not a destination.