I'm Southern, and we love our pigs. In fact, there's a little joke about it:
Q: What parts of the pig are edible?
A: Everything but the squeal!
We even have a grocery store chain named after pigs, and I am the proud owner of two Piggly Wiggly T-shirts. Some people even believe that bacon is a vegetable. Well, not really, but add a little bacon/salt pork/fat back to your next pot of beans, greens, or cabbage, and you're well on the way to some tasty vittles. Also, real barbecue is made of pigs. I'm sure to get some flak for that one, but it is fact. Beef doesn't have the same fall-apart-goodness that pork has. FACT.
About a year ago, Darren decided that he wanted some ribs, and as a die-hard Southern (who happens to have lived in several regions of the country at this point), I assure you that you cannot get good Southern barbecue in Southern California. In the two years we lived there, we tried chains and local places, including Jay Bee's, a joint that was featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Don't get me wrong, Jay Bee's sauce tasted really good, but the meat didn't have that fall-apart-goodness that I was craving. The closest we found was at the Mississippi Picnic in LA, which is an annual event that occurs in September, so we decided we would have to make our own. I had never cooked ribs before, so I looked to the internet for some guidance.
The original recipe I started with was courtesy of Jamie and Bobby Deen, Paula Deen's boys. I thought they couldn't steer me wrong because I trusted in their Southernness, but I thought their rub had entirely too much cumin and not enough heat or depth. I have come to the conclusion that BBQ is a deeply personal thing. One day, I hope to ask Lewis Grizzard about it in heaven. He knows that it's a sin to serve sorry barbecue.
Over the last year, I have combined bits and pieces of many other people's rub recipes and come up with something that Darren and I both enjoy, and a cooking method that makes the ribs super tender. The primary secret to making good BBQ is low and slow. If you need some elaboration on that, cook your BBQ very slowly at a low temperature.
I will share my recipe with you, but I urge you, with all of my BBQ-loving heart, to take it and make it your own. And to share the fruits of your labor with family and friends. That's what BBQ (and food in general) is all about to Southerners, food brings families together.
My rub has brown sugar, salt, pepper, chili powders, cayenne, lemon zest, and some other stuff. Gather up all of your ingredients, a set of measuring spoons, and a 1/3 c. measuring cup.
I rinse the ribs in cold water, remove the membrane from the back side, and trim away any big chunks of fat. Then I pat them dry with paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the ribs in the oven and set the timer for 5 or 6 hours depending on the size/thickness of the ribs. I suggest 6 hours for a large slab like this. At this point, open a packet and check the temperature with a meat thermometer. It should read around 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Put them back for additional time, if needed.
If the ribs are done, open the packets and fold back the foil, and put the ribs back in the oven for 20-30 minutes. This will help them form a nice crust on the outside.
Also, if you are traveling through the South/Midwest, here are some BBQ places that I am either a fan of or would like to try and become a fan of: Country's BBQ in AL, Little Dooey in MS, Ubon's in MS, Pappy's Smokehouse in MO, Sprayberry's in GA, The Rendezvous in TN, and Leatha's in MS. According to Lewis Grizzard, when you walk into a BBQ joint, the more the people look alike, the better the BBQ will be. I'd hazard that family tradition just might have something to do with good food. ;)
I'm sure there are dozens of other places, especially those that are of the hole-in-the-wall variety that have mastered the art of BBQ. Let me know if you have a suggestion of where to get the best BBQ in your area. Maybe one day, I'll go on a pig tour.