How to Brine Pork Ribs for a BBQ

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If you seldom use salt except as a sprinkle on your food, you're missing out on some of its more potent culinary uses. For example if you give your ribs a quick bath in a salt and water solution -- a process called brining -- they won't just taste better, they'll also retain more moisture after long, slow cooking in your barbecue. It's a simple process, suitable for cooks at any level of skill.

Bring a gallon of water to a boil in a large pot, and add a 1/2 pound of salt. Stir the salt until it's completely dissolved in the water. Some cooks add sugar and spices as well, which mellow the salt's sharp bite and add a small amount of flavor. Boil the brine for 5 minutes, then cool and refrigerate it overnight.

Place your ribs on a clean cutting board with the curved underside of the bones facing up. There's a strip of tough membrane, called the fell, that runs along the entire underside. Slide the tip of a butter knife between the fell and one of the rib bones and lift it away, so you can get a good grip on it. Pull the membrane away from the ribs in one long, leathery strip.

Arrange the ribs in a single layer in a flat, food-safe container, or slide each rack into its own large heavy-duty plastic bag. Pour the brine over the ribs, and refrigerate them for at least one hour or up to six hours.

Remove the ribs and drain the brine. Pat them dry with clean paper towels. Apply a dry spice rub, if you wish. The ribs can be cooked immediately, or left overnight in their spice rub to absorb flavors.

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