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Please tell me how to salvage my ribs!

First post from a longtime lurker . . . please be kind!

Expecting dinner guests tonight, I coated beautiful racks of pork ribs (St. Louis style, I think) with a dry rub of kosher salt, dark brown sugar, paprika, white sugar and pepper. The plan was to leave them overnight in the dry rub, cover tightly and roast very slowly at a low temperature, then baste with BBQ sauce and finish on the grill just before serving. I can share the recipe, from a popular but much-maligned TV personality, if anyone is interested.

I just found out that my guests' flight was cancelled and they won't make it in for dinner tonight. We have rescheduled to tomorrow. My question is this: are the ribs OK sitting another 24 hours in the dry rub? Should I roast them today, stick them in the fridge overnight and finish on the grill? Does it matter?

I am the type who treats expiration dates as gospel (despite reading many threads from chowhounds who disagree) so please tell me if the ribs will be OK, and how best to salvage them. Thank you!

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  1. Personally, I would scrape the rub off. Other than that, you should be fine, but probably have more than enough flavoring in one day's sitting with the rub...

    1. Leave it in the rub (which has undoubtedly pulled some moisture out of the ribs and become a slurry by now) and do everything tomorrow as originally planned.

      I wouldn't scrape off any of that dry rub slurry because there's a lot of flavor there that you'll be squandering if you scrap it off.

      Also, to save you some effort, since you'll have your oven fired up already, to caramelize the sauce just broil the ribs on the top rack once you've sauced them. No need to grill them as they won't take on any smoke flavor unless you're going to use PLENTY of smoke during the 5 minutes total they'll be on the grill.

      1. Leave em alone....Leave em covered.....Leave em refrigerated...

        Execute your plan tomorrow.......

        Have Fun & Enjoy!.

        1. I would leave them alone and cook tomorrow. They'll be fine.

          1. +3 on leave 'em be. They'll be fine.

            1. They will be even better with the extra day of soaking up the rub.

              1. Um, should be fine for an extra day, but I'd change from roasting to braising.

                Way I figure it is this, after a few days of salt and spices, you're going to end up with your meat at least partially-cured. After curing and drawing out water, I'd want to get some moisture back in the meat, which means wet heat, not dry. Roasting or smoking, I'd expect the ribs would come out dry.

                My $0.02.

                11 Replies
                1. re: biggreenmatt

                  Nah. There's plenty of collagen/gelatin in those ribs that will keep them plenty moist and tender after roasting them low and slow.

                  1. re: 1POINT21GW

                    I plan on doing some ribs for the 4th but mine often come out rather tough and even dry. So,1POINT21GW, I'm going to take your advice and go the low and slow route. Specifically - How low and how slow? What temperature and for how long? Thanks!

                    1. re: Ritcheyd

                      What type of ribs?

                      Do you have a smoker?

                      Do you have a grill?

                      1. re: 1POINT21GW

                        Sorry I wasn't able to reply right away, 1POINT. I was using spareribs. I don't have a smoker and just a small charcoal grill. In the past, I've always gave them a rub the night before, wrapped them in foil, in the oven for 1 1/2 hours at 300*, brushed them with B-B-Q sauce and placed them over the charcoal just long enough to get a little crispy around the edges and they DO pick up a smoky flavor after just a few minutes. (I got those instructions years ago.) And they always tasted fantastic but were sort of tough and chewy. So this time I tried Uncle Bob's method. (See Below) I left them in the oven at 225* for 5 hours. This time they came out so tender they were literally falling off the bone in places. I had tried to light our grill in the backyard but then a strong wind came up and I didn't want to risk starting someone's roof on fire from the sparks so I used the oven method to broil them at the end. I've done that before. But anyway, they were super tender and delicious. As far as the "falling off the bone" part, I suppose that's a matter of personal preference. But although I like a little "chew", I would consider these perfect. Next time though I'll check for tenderness after 4 hours.

                      2. re: Ritcheyd

                        How low?? ~~~ Shoot for 225*
                        How Long?? ~~~~ 3-4 Hours for Loin Backs...5-6 Hours for Spare Ribs...

                        There a many variables to these times at this temperature. Use them only as general guide lines.

                        There are several 'methods' to determine doneness.... here are two---Stick a tooth pick in the meat between the bones in several places....When it easily goes in and out...Normally they're ready. ~~ Pick a slab up on one end with a pair of tongs....if the slab has a lot of droop/bend and the meat cracks or almost breaks into...they're done. Or another....cut one off and taste it...It should have some resistance to the tooth (tender).... but not be sloppy or fall of the bone. HTH!!

                        Have Fun!!

                        1. re: Uncle Bob

                          Thank you, all. The ribs were a little dry, but I think the problem is I didn't roast long enough, and the heat might have been a little high (I did 275 for 3 hours).

                          1. re: Allieroseww

                            There is a learning curve for sure.....Personally I cook (BBQ) ribs somewhere around 210*-225* (+ or -. a few degrees) .....it takes a little longer, but I like the results better with the lower/slower approach. ~~ BBQ is a leisure/lazy activity...If I'm in a hurry to eat...I fry a Chicken!! :))

                            Have a great 4th!

                            1. re: Allieroseww

                              275 degrees F is a perfect temperature to cook pork ribs at.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  Nah. 275 degrees F is a perfect temperature to smoke ribs at. They won't be overdone at three hours.

                                  1. re: 1POINT21GW

                                    I guess we'll agree to disagree. I think it's about 50 degrees too high, after having done both.