BBQ Ribs start with flavorful Salt Brine

Today on the Sonrise Morning Show with Matt Swaim the subject was salt. And how salt is used in many ways, not only as a sacramental by itself or in holy water, but in every day cooking.  So here’s some timely information about salt plus another favorite and really yummy recipe for bbq ribs, this time brined in salt, then rubbed with my homemade seasoning and finally, mopped with my family’s favorite bbq sauce.
Lev. 2:13:  “Every offering must be seasoned with salt because salt is the reminder of God’s covenant.”
Salt is probably the most common seasoning we use today. Yet it has its roots in the Bible. 
Today’s custom of serving appetizers to our guests is handed down from Bible days when travelers and arriving guests were offered salted fish, olives, fruit and bread as tokens of hospitality.  So salt was a symbol of hospitality.
From earliest times, to eat salt and food with anyone was to form an unbreakable bond of friendship.
The well known phrase “salt of the covenant” refers to the eternal covenant between God and his people.
There are so many salts out there now –  from salts mined from the earth to salts mined from sea beds.  What kind of salt was available in Bible days?
Salt was mined from the salt hills around the Dead Sea  and salt deposited on the banks of that sea when it overflowed every year provided plenty.  It’s much the same today – common table salt like you and I grew up with is mined from the earth; sea salt, which is more gourmet, is mined from sea beds – the water evaporates and the salt can be harvested, sometimes by hand.
What’s the difference between Kosher and regular salt?
Besides being processed in a Kosher kitchen, Kosher salt can be regular salt but is processed differently – regular salt has tiny granules which don’t always dissolve real well; Kosher salt can be rolled or flaked which allows it to dissolve better, plus it doesn’t usually have any additives. In cooking, though, you’ll need more Kosher salt spoon for spoon than regular due to its shape.
Now I will tell you a commercial rub and sauce is yummy, too. But for you purists out there with more time on your hands, you might like to do it all from scratch.
Brine for up to 5# ribs:
This is optional, but I hope you take the time to do it, since brining is a way of increasing the moisture holding capacity of meat, resulting in a moister product when it’s cooked. I usually cut the slabs in half or so to fit in the brine container.
1 cup Kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 gallon cold water
Dissolve salt and sugar in water. Brine 4 hours, remove from brine, pat dry and proceed with rub.
Rita’s special BBQ rub
Mix together:
6 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chili powder – I like Buena Vida
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons allspice
3-5 pounds baby back/loin pork ribs, with silver skin removed
Seasoning and precooking ribs:
This may be different from what you’re used to, but trust me, this method works perfectly. I like baby back/loin ribs, which cook up tender.
Season ribs with rub on both sides. Be generous and pat rub in.
Place on hot grill and “mark” them for a few minutes on each side. Marking means allowing the ribs to grill just until you see grill marks, that’s all.
Bonus: this can be done ahead!
Preheat oven to 300.
Arrange ribs in single layers in baking pan and pour some chicken broth or beer around ribs, a generous cup or so. This makes for a flavorful steam. Cover tightly with foil and cook until fork tender, anywhere from 2 to 2-1/2 hours. You don’t want them falling apart.
Another bonus: this can be done ahead of time too!
When ready to serve, heat grill to medium high. Place ribs on grill and start brushing with sauce. I do this several times on both sides. They’re ready when they are hot throughout and sauce is charred a bit.
Serve with additional warm sauce on the side.
After cooking, adjust seasonings, adding more vinegar, etc. if you like.  I always add more brown sugar to make it taste similar to Montgomery Inn’s.
4 cups catsup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 to 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup yellow mustard
2 tablespoons Tabasco
2 tablespoons rub (see above)
2 teaspoons liquid smoke or more
Chipotle pepper powder to taste or 1-2 chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce, chopped fine (or couple shakes cayenne – go easy on the cayenne if using)
Combine everything in saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until dark and thick, about 20 minutes.
Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP, CMH
Appalachian Herbal Scholar

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