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Membrane or No Membrane - The Debate

 
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PigskinBarbeque
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 15 1:48 am    Post subject: Membrane or No Membrane - The Debate Reply with quote



There has been this Great Rib Debate about the membrane on the backside of ribs and if you should remove it or not, so you can make the best ribs possible. Well, I decided to conduct my own blind test on my family and friends to see which they would like best and why. Before getting into the results of my test, I would like to visit some of the things I have seen, read, and heard about this Great Rib Debate.

I’ve heard reasons for leaving the membrane on as well as leaving it off, but here is what I’ve found from other cooks and pitmasters.

- CNN, in their online column titled Eatocracy says “Don’t remove the membrane that runs along the bone side of the ribs; it prevents some of the fat from rendering out, leading to more tender results.” When giving instructions on making Memphis Style Spareribs.
- John Willingham of Memphis, TN says “Do not remove the membrane from the back before you cook them… leaving the membrane on, keeps the meat juices in.”
- Meathead Goldwyn from the great site AmazingRibs.com says “I think removing the skin is like…; An extra step of respect for guests…..” and “The membrane can also get very tough and chewy, especially if you cook hot, and if you cook low and slow, it can get rubbery. In addition there is a layer of fat under the membrane, and removing it lets it melt and drain.”
- The winningest man in barbeque, Myron Mixon says “peel off the thick membrane that covers the ribs. This prevents rubs and other seasonings from adhering to the rib rack and doesn’t allow a marinade or smoke to penetrate the meat….” in his top-selling book Smokin’ with Myron Mixon.

So, now that you have heard from the pros, let’s get into our test results and later I’ll give you my preference and why. I cooked spareribs and babyback ribs, removing the membrane from half of each cut of meat. I applied the same rub, see recipe below, and smoked them at 250 degrees using charcoal as my fuel choice and cherry wood chunks for smoke. Naturally the babyback ribs finished before the spareribs.







I made sure I cut all the ribs and had them separated based on them either having or not having the membrane. I told my family and friend that I was trying out 2 new rubs I had come up with and this was the reason for me separating the ribs. I asked each person, 6 total, to take 1 rib bone from each tray, eat it, and tell me what they liked or didn’t like about each one they ate. I did this before allowing anyone to make a plate for dinner.

The results were 5-1 for the ribs that had the membrane removed. The common theme I kept hearing was, they seem to be more tender, didn’t have piece in between their teeth and they seemed more flavorful. As for the 1 person who liked the membrane on, they said it reminded them of the ribs their father use to make when they were a kid growing up. No other reason was provided. Funny thing, nobody noticed the rub was the same. LOL!

So, in conclusion, it can come down to personal preference but when cooking for others I would suggest removing the membrane. I personally remove the membrane because I feel it allows the flavors of the rub you are using to better penetrate the meat, makes for a more tender rib and you avoid having to pick that tough membrane out of your teeth or mouth while enjoying great ribs!

I would love to hear if you remove the membrane or leave it on and why, so tell me![/list]
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SoEzzy
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 15 1:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for a fun experiment, and the results.

There is yet another option that I sometimes use when cooking bulk for an event. The X... using a sharp blade cut an X in the membrane before you rub and cook the ribs, (corner to corner along the length of the ribs, crossing in the middle), it allows some penetration of the rub, and often makes the membrane easier to remove once the ribs are cooked.
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SmokingPiney
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 15 1:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I pull the membrane. Like you, I think it allows for a more tender cook, and the membrane is tough.
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Tony
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 15 2:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NO MEMBRANE UP HERE! Shocked Wink

Best Regards,

Tony Very Happy
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Canadian Bacon
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 15 3:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It takes a minute to remove that tough tissue.... Why eat it....I always remove it.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 15 4:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Canadian Bacon wrote:
It takes a minute to remove that tough tissue.... Why eat it....I always remove it.



X2!

Hey, Rick...is That Crap even Edible? Shocked Laughing

Best Regards,

Tony Very Happy
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Canadian Bacon
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 15 4:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tony wrote:
Canadian Bacon wrote:
It takes a minute to remove that tough tissue.... Why eat it....I always remove it.



X2!

Hey, Rick...is That Crap even Edible? Shocked Laughing

Best Regards,

Tony Very Happy


I quess .....if you like chewing on foreskin😄😄
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 15 4:28 am    Post subject: Re: Membrane or No Membrane - The Debate Reply with quote

PigskinBarbeque wrote:
So, now that you have heard from the pros

Well...3 out of those 4 are 'pros'. I'm not gonna say anything bad about the one I won't mention (*cough* MeatNutz)

PigskinBarbeque wrote:
I did this before allowing anyone to make a plate for dinner.

I could never do that - I'd prolly get stampeded Laughing Laughing

I usually remove the membrane. The only time I don't is when the damn thing just refuses to come off whole or in big pieces. Then I do like SoEzzy and 'X' it.

Tony wrote:
NO MEMBRANE UP HERE! Shocked Wink

Ain't THAT the truth! Wink Laughing Laughing
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 15 4:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Didn't realize it was a debate I've always removed the membrane. I don't like biting into a rib and tasting the "paper". When I've been in raunts or eating someone elses ribs and I bite into the membrane I have always thought "lazy pitmaster". Now I know there are folks that actually like it...weird.

--Dan
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Canadian Bacon
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 15 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just think they dont know any better Dan...you would not believe the amount of people that ask me .... What membrane.😄
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Pete Mazz
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 15 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always remove it. It's pretty nasty when I've had ribs that had it left on and couldn't figure out who put the rubber bands in my food!
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MacEggs
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 15 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

…. And 4 out of 5 dentists recommend chewing sugarless gum.
The other one recommends sucking syrup straight from the bottle … Shocked Wink

On a more serious note, great write-up and commentary.
I prefer to remove the membrane, as well.

However, I only apply S&P to the bone side. I figure it's a waste of rub on that side. YMMV Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 15 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm with Aaron Franklin on this one....Pull membrane for competition, leave it for selling....I do at least a case a day [ several cases most weekends ] and have yet to hear a complaint about membrane...Most folks want "fall off the bone ribs"...I call that pulled pork! But the customer is [almost] always right.
The membrane helps keep the meat on the bones so they can receive a rib that looks like a rib instead of a lump of meat with a bone sitting on it in my experience....NOT my idea of ribs, but is the idea of consumers.....BUT, much easier to keep 10 or 50 racks intact and ready to sell for extended periods of time!
Since when is cnn an expert on BBQ???...LOL! I see them right there with meatnutz.....who, if you read, makes one wonder why we put doors on our smokers.... [ if you lookin you aint cookin is a myth in his rambles...]
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16 15 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MacEggs wrote:
However, I only apply S&P to the bone side. I figure it's a waste of rub on that side. YMMV Very Happy


Same here...

--Dan
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