When I made my first set of ribs, one of the daunting tasks to me was de-membraning the slabs. I watched some videos on it, and felt that I could tackle it.
Prepared for my first de-membraning journey, I got my slabs home and my station ready, only to find that they had already had the membranes removed… womp womp womp… a lot of hype for a whole lot of nothing.
Dozens of slabs later, I feel that Ive gotten pretty good at de-membraning ribs, and thought Id share my method. Ive seen a lot of posts lately about people not knowing whether the membrane is on/off, and having some trouble with it.
The membrane is a milky white colored, papery textured nastiness on the underside of ribs. The method is the same for both baby backs and spare ribs, and should be removed. Its not CRITICAL to remove it, however it has unpleasant mouthfeel and prevents your rub from contacting the meat on the underside. When you remove it, youll understand why youd prefer not having it on your precious slabs.
The first thing that I do is prepare my station. I get a garbage can ready beneath where im going to work next to the sink, and a roll of paper towels. I also recently started using rubber gloves while i prep and cook, and it has been fantastic.
You can see how milky white the underside of the ribs are. If the membrane is present, youll know it. If its been removed you should see the bones and red flesh clearly.
To get it started, i take a dry piece of paper towel in my fingers and work at the short end of the slab. There usually is a small flap of the membrane near the end that you can get your fingers onto. Once youve got it started, wrap it in some more of the piece of paper towel and grab ahold.
The membrane should peel off in one piece, unless the butcher sliced into it and it tears on you.
Once the membranes are removed, you can see the bones and meat clearly. I usually give them a rinse in cold water, pat them dry, and rub them down. Although Ive recently learned that many people will not rinse them and just rub them in olive oil or mustard. The claim is that rinsing the meat can spread more bacteria than it prevents.
That being said, BBQ is a very personal art and everyone is going to have their own different rituals. Depending on what youre comfortable with and the flavor youre shooting for, youll find what you like best.
I then spray down the counters and the sink really well and clean everything up.