Brined Pork Ribs (or Who Ate All the Ribs!?)




About: I live with my wife and children in Fort Worth, TX. We enjoy day-trips and junk stores. I'm a firm believer that homemade food tastes better and I love to try new recipes. When I can, I like to head out to t...

I love pork ribs. I love them in the oven, in the crock pot, in the smoker, etc.

I had always wondered what they would taste like if they were brined (similar to a ham or bacon cure). You may be wondering why someone would want to use a curing brine on a rack of ribs...... why not?

I bought some ribs on sale recently and I had a free afternoon so I decided to give it a whirl.

You know what......THEY. ARE. DELICIOUS! Slightly sweet and salty. Juicy, succulent, tender. The flavor was like ham or bacon only...... not ham or bacon!?

I highly recommend this recipe. (of course I do, I made it)

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Step 1: Ingredients

Brining is the key to this process. Brining basically super-moisturizes the meat. The salt and sugar in the solution denatures the protein, allowing it to hold moisture during the cooking process. The pink salt is there to kill any nasty bacteria that may have snuck in to the party. If you want to learn more about brining, check the good old interwebs.
Brine ingredients. 1/2 cup sea salt 1/2 cup white sugar 2 tsp. pink salt (curing) 1 gallon water

A rack of pork ribs- I purchased an untrimmed full rack of pork ribs on sale recently and stuck them in the freezer until I had some free time. It weighs about 4 lbs.

Rub ingredients. 1 tsp garlic 1 tsp onion 1 tsp all-spice 1 tsp black pepper 1 tsp ground mustard 1 tsp cumin 1 tsp chili powder -A pretty standard rub-

-A word on pink salt i.e. curing salts-

Curing salts were created centuries ago, before refrigeration, as a method of preserving meats such as bacon, hams, and corned beef. They all contain salt and nitrite, and some contain both nitrite and nitrate. Both these preservatives are very effective against the botulism bug. Most curing salts are colored pink with a small amount of red dye so you don't confuse them with table salt. The small quantities used in curing meats is harmless, but in large quantities can be lethal. Pink salts are not the same as pink Himalayan rock salt, which is pure salt with trace elements that give it the pink color!

Step 2: Brine the Ribs

Clean up the ribs by pulling off the silver skin and trimming off the huge chunks of fat. I also cut the rack in half because I did not have a large enough container to hold the entire rack during brining.

Combine your brine ingredients in a suitable container and place the ribs in the solution.

Place it in the refrigerator overnight (about 12-18 hours)

Step 3: Rinse Them, Dry Them, Season Them

I rinsed the brine/cure mixture off and patted them dry.

Apply the spice mix of your choice and place in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Prep the smoker.

Step 4: Smoke Them (or Bake Them)

The smoker temp should be around 220 Fahrenheit. Place the rack in your smoker and cook until the internal temp is above 160 Fahrenheit, periodically spritzing the ribs with water. This took about 4 hours

Alternately, you could bake them in the oven for about 4 hours at 220 (but you would miss out on that delicious smokiness)

Remove from the smoker (or oven) and allow to rest for about 30 minutes before cutting the ribs apart.

Step 5: Eat Up

As I said, these are awesome. The smoky, porkiness was delicious on its own, but I added a sweet and tangy sauce for dipping that really brought it all together.

I would definitely make these again. My wife described them as sweet and savory. They were a big hit with my guests, too.

Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

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    11 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I'm trying to recreate an authentic charcroute garnie for Christmas Eve this year, and ribs were an addition I had at one point in Strasbourg, France, that I think took it over the top. In keeping with the German/Alsace tradition of Kassler Rippchen, also used in this, I was going to treat my ribs with some TCM #1. Yours looked fantastic, but also cut very cleanly, which may suggest that they weren't "fall off the bone" did they turn out, texture wise?

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Texturally, they were similiar to ham. Slightly springy, with good mouth feel. They released from the bones fairly well. I believe If you cooked them longer than I did, you would render the collagen better and get more of the "fall off the bone" type ribs than I did. Let me know the results, if you don't mind.


    3 years ago

    Thanks for the tutorial.

    I've always brined my baby back ribs, but I've just used apple juice. works great.

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    Mmmm, ribs.... Question: do you really need the pink salt if you're only brining for less than a day? I thought you only had to worry if you're brining/curing for a week or more and/or cold smoking?

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    You could probably get away with not using the pink salt, but I'm a little paranoid when it comes to food borne pathogens. I have it so I use it. I should add that pink salt makes meat cure faster due to the nitrates and also keeps the meat from turning grey while it's soaking. There's a plethora of info on the internet about pros/cons of pink (curing) salt. Thanks for reading!


    3 years ago

    I have done this exact same thing but by "accident". and yes, it was absolutely fantastic.

    the accident is they were only supposed to soak for a few hours in the salt water, I've always found it tends to make them much juicier before smoking by doing so. well a few hours turned into 24 hours. we cooked them anyways and was absolutely surprised how great they were.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Ha, sometimes the best food ever had was a mistake. Thanks for checking out my Instructable.