Whether you are preparing baby back ribs, spareribs, St. Louis-style ribs, or country-style ribs, it is crucial to know how to season them well. The amount of dry rub you use can significantly impact the ribs’ texture, flavor, and moisture level.
The general guideline regarding the amount of dry rub to apply to ribs is one tablespoon (15 ml) for every pound (453 grams). However, some argue that you can increase this measurement to two tablespoons of dry rub per pound, depending on your taste preference.
Besides the quantity of dry rub, you should also consider other factors that will impact your ribs to ensure the perfect result. These factors include the amount of salt in the dry rub, preparation, how to apply a dry rub to ribs, and suitable resting time.
What Is The Correct Amount Of Dry Rub For Ribs?
A dry rub or seasoning helps seal ribs’ moisture by creating a thick layer (also called the bark) on the outside of meat when cooked. This layer acts as a barrier that keeps the meat’s interior from going dry and helps make the meat more flavorful.
However, as beneficial as a dry rub can be, applying too much can overpower the natural flavor of your ribs. This effect is especially true in the case of dry rubs with high salt content and robust flavor combinations.
In contrast, applying too little dry rub on your ribs can produce a bland taste and dry out the meat. Yes, you will have the natural flavor of your meat shine through.
But since the rub creates a protective barrier to keep the meat moist, having a thin or hardly any coating will cause air to penetrate the meat and dry it out.
Therefore, getting the right amount of dry rub on your ribs is essential for them to end up both moist and flavorful. If unsure, start with 1.5 tablespoons of dry rub for every pound of ribs. After cooking and tasting the ribs, you can assess the outcome and consider lowering the amount to one tablespoon or increasing the measurement to two tablespoons.
Things To Consider Before Applying A Rub
You need to start by deciding if you want to apply moisture to the surface of your ribs before adding a dry rub. Most people consider a binder essential because it helps the dry rub stick to the meat.
It also makes it easy to assess whether you coat your meat evenly. However, ribs usually have enough wetness for a dry rub to adhere to them naturally. Adding a binder is thus based on personal preference.
If you wish to add a binder to your ribs, lightly coat the surface with a bit of oil or mustard before applying the dry rub. You can also experiment with more robust flavors, such as soya sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or different kinds of vinegar.
Another step to consider is the removal of the meat membrane. This part of the ribs can be chewy when cooked, so it might be good to remove it before adding a dry rub to your meat. Removing the membrane will also allow your seasoning to penetrate your meat directly. You will thus achieve a better flavor result when you remove the membrane.
To remove the membrane, you need to place the ribs, meat side down, on a big piece of foil. Use a pair of kitchen scissors (shears) to cut open the thin, transparent membrane around the bones, then use your hands to ease your way under it. Once your hands are underneath the membrane, you can pull it off the ribs.
How To Add Rub To Ribs
Besides the preparation and amount of dry rub you must consider, you also need to pay attention to how you physically apply dry rub to a rack of ribs.
Liberally coat ribs with seasoning by rubbing them into the ribs using your hands. Do not merely sprinkle your dry rub on the meat. It is called a ‘rub’ for a reason! Make sure you thus pat and massage the dry rub onto the top, bottom, and sides of your ribs until you have coated the entire rack. Work with the meat’s grain and get the dry rub into every crevice of the ribs.
Another tip for adding dry rub to ribs, especially if you are unsure about the quantity of dry rub, is to apply a generous amount. Then gently tap your rack of ribs on a cutting board, tray, or kitchen counter. The gentle tap will allow the excess dry rub to fall off, ensuring you have just enough rub for optimal flavor. Remember to discard any leftover rub that has made contact with the raw meat.
How Long Must Dry Rub Be On Ribs?
If you are only using a dry rub for your ribs, apply the seasoning at least 1-2 hours before cooking it. Even better would be leaving the seasoned ribs in the fridge overnight, but not for longer than 12 hours. More than 12 hours might cause the ribs to dry out.
Overnight is better because of the reaction of the salt in the dry rub on the meat: the longer salt sits on the surface of the ribs, the wetter it gets, and eventually, it melts. This reaction causes an electrical charge, resulting in the salt ions penetrating deep into the meat, thus improving the flavor.
The longer the spice rub is in place, the thicker and stickier the exterior will also get when cooking the ribs. Many people prefer this crusty bark, but it depends on personal taste.
If you plan to cook your ribs with a sauce (wet rub), applying a dry rub 15 minutes before cooking should suffice. The shorter resting time will help the sauce adhere better to the ribs.
There is an array of recipes that you can follow that will guide you in preparing and cooking ribs with dry rubs. The primary thing to remember is to keep to the conventional 1-2 tablespoons of dry rub per pound ‘rule.’
Also, prepare and apply your dry rub to the ribs carefully and allow it to rest for the time frame suggested in this article.
Even with all these guidelines, it is essential to note how you prepare and cook ribs should reflect your pallet and taste level. If you are new to cooking ribs, it will thus serve you well to try and test different quantities of dry rub and even other types of rubs to find what works best for you.
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