Falling off a log is easy. Falling off the roof is bad. So is falling off the face of the earth, though it’s a longer fall. You can fall off the wagon and the turnip truck, perhaps both in the same day.
But falling off the bone BBQ? To quote philosopher Joan Rivers: can we talk?
Why are so many rib-eaters attached to detachable meat? Is it a true palate preference or marketing-induced hypnosis? Either way, attached they are.
Check out this exchange from a Q and A blog:
Q – “Can I sue a barbeque joint for saying they offer fall off the bone back ribs for false advertisement? I picked up a rib from my plate and the meat stayed on the bone. I even held the rib over my mouth and it didn’t fall off. I even shook the rib and still nothing.”
The blog’s answer: “You can’t sue for breach of non-quantitative puffery.”
My answer: You want to sue for failure to imitate pot roast on a stick?
Braises are good. Crock-pots have uses. So do tagines and romertopfs. Boiling is excellent for separating meat from bone – for soup.
But for my taste, when BBQ ribs and chicken fall off the bone, they are over-cooked or have lingered too long in a foil-covered pan after cooking.
One restaurant bragged that their fall-off-the-bone ribs are so tender “you can eat them with your fingers and still drive.” There’s an appetizing visual – and a reason for pruning back expectations I hadn’t considered.
But most loose-meat devotees aren’t considering their sauce to steering ratio. I think they’re simply responding to constant repetition of the fall off the bone BBQ refrain. The first verse of the low-and-slow anthem. Repeated constantly on TV food shows. Blogs. BBQ restaurants ads and websites.
So, if you are going to fall off your diet, here’s my foolproof recipes for BBQ ribs:
Baby backs, St. Louis or full slab, start with good meat. Whether you use rub, sauce or both, the meat quality makes a difference.
If you want to torture the meat collagen till it dissolves into molten gelatin, producing what one blogger called “sensuous unctuousness” (her definition of fall off the bone), go for it.
Or you can do what I do. Use indirect heat on the barbecue. Pour yourself a Scotch. Odds are when you’re done, so are the ribs. If not, pour a second Scotch.
Sauce at the end. Let them rest a bit. You should have resilient ribs that are tasty, not tough.
I have found that the Scotch test is way more reliable than the time test, bend test, twist test, popup test or toothpick test.
Clearly, when it’s up to me, I am going for fall off the wagon before fall off the bone.