There are some things that are meant to be eaten delicately; minute bites, dab the mouth gently, use flatware, and such.
This is -most emphatically- not one of those dishes. Tear into it with your hands and teeth. Get sauce all over your chin and halfway up your cheeks. Ribs demand pride-free commitment to the eating process. I dare you to try to eat ribs with a fork and knife. You’re going to end up looking a-fool. The rib bone will careen off of your plate onto the table (and heaven help you if you’re using a tablecloth.) It’s best just accept the mess is coming, tie your hair back and dive into it with gusto.
Meaty, smoky, full-body-eating-experience ribs are an American summer tradition. If you’re lucky, you live somewhere that people take the process of cooking ribs very seriously. If you’re seriously blessed, you live just up the way from a good rib joint. If you don’t? Well, don’t despair. You can turn out superb quality ribs using nothing more than an oven and a grill. The key is really in patience. You don’t do ribs every day, so do not be in a rush. You can’t hurry ribs just like you can’t hurry love. No. You’ll just have to wait. (Yes, I did just break into song. Don’t tell me you didn’t.)
You have to rub the ribs and let them sit for twenty four hours then cook low and slow and then finally you can slather them with barbecue sauce (if it floats your boat, and it does float mine) at the tail end of cooking. You don’t sauce it at the beginning because the sugars in the barbecue sauce burn when cooked for too long. A little char on a rib is a good thing, but a charcoal rib is not. Next you move those sticky, sweet, spicy, salty, smoky ribs to a cutting board and let them sit for a couple of minutes. I mean it. You let ‘em sit. Don’t rush those ribs. Cut them into one- or two-rib servings, depending on how meaty they are
After all that, you can finally dig in. And dig in you will.While you’re digging in, the dogs will look at you longingly. The cat will circle around the table none-to-discreetly. Neighbors you’ve never met will drift into your yard because the scent of just cooked ribs will have wafted down the street and onto their patio.
You’d better share. It’s the right thing to do. While you’re at it, give them a napkin because they’re going to need one.
P.S. Yes. I know that real barbecued ribs are done over the grill all the way. This is a great way to get mega barbecue flavour with half the work.