In the South, the only thing you can say that’s considered bigger fightin’ words than, “Why didn’t you put beans in your chili?” is to speak ill of dry rub on ribs.
First, let me say that I don’t fall on either side of the chili or rib fences. I can consume chili with beans just as easily as I can devour St. Louis ribs with dry rub or a rack that’s been basted.
There are plenty of other things worth fighting about, like why folks want to eat sushi. When you have plenty of batter and a deep fryer, there’s no reason in the world to eat your fish raw.
So, the guy who wants to put pintos in his chili or cooks his ribs dry instead of wet seems to me to be much less of a culinary lawbreaker – at least in my book – than those raw-fish-eating outlaws.
I bring this up because I’m about to throw another wrench in the rib argument.
I’m now making my ribs in an Instant Pot.
Now, before you fellas start boiling oil and lighting the torches, hear me out.
When man first discovered BBQ, it was likely by accident.
Caveman 1: “Mmmm. Grogg, you drop today’s kill in fire. Quick, grab it!”
Caveman 2: “Wait, Krell. You smell that? What it is?”
Caveman 3: “Mmmm. Me don’t know. But, let’s finish swamp water we’re drinking and see what happens.”
So, it was meat over an open fire that brought brontosaurus ribs into the mainstream.
Next came elevating the meat on skewers over an open fire. Then, just a few years later, Grogg and Krell were able to push a large buggy around Wal Mart and buy a ready-made BBQ grill.
The point being that what we cook doesn’t change much (although brontosaurus is hard to come by these days), but how we cook has changed quite a bit – especially over the last few years.
Not so long ago, it would have been unthinkable to smoke meat in an electric smoker or a pellet grill. Yet, nowadays, they’re common and accepted.
So, I present to you what I believe to be the next and amazingly quick way to make ribs: The Instant Pot.
The ribs are good. They’re not only good; they’re really good. They’re tender, tasty, easy, excellent, and quick to prepare.
I know I’ve lost about half of the men right about now, but pinch yourself, shake it off, and pay attention.
On a recent day in East Texas when the weather couldn’t make up its mind (which could be just about any day in our neck of the woods), I wanted to make ribs.
I had thawed them and was ready to get my smoker (A Big Green Egg) going when it clouded up.
Then it began to drizzle. Then it began to rain. Then it began to pour.
I was drenched.
After turning off the garden sprinkler (which, along with washing your car is a sure fire way to get it to rain) and moving the Egg back under the patio cover, I dried off and turned the TV to YouTube to look for alternative ways to cook ribs in the house.
I was surprised to see how many rib recipes there are for the Instant Pot. Actually, I wasn’t all that surprised. I’ve long proclaimed my adoration for this modern pressure-cooking marvel.
But, there once was a time not so long ago, when cooking ribs any way other than over a caveman-type fire, while pounding on your shirtless chest, would have been a capital offense.
But, men have been slowly and unknowingly softened by the introduction of shows on the Food Network and HGTV.
The women tricked us, fellas.
I’m fairly certain that while the guys were in their man caves during football season, the women held meetings to figure out a way to break us down and get us to sway more toward their side.
It was likely episodes of The Pioneer Woman cooking on a Panini press, and Chip and Joanna repeating the word ‘shiplap’ that wore us down and made us more accepting of cooking our meats anywhere other than over a crackling fire from a tree we felled ourselves.
So, here I stand staring at a rack of ribs that was cooked in a Ree Drummond Instant Pot. The pot even has flowers on it.
Apple cider vinegar, cinnamon applesauce, water, and a homemade pork rub were all it took (plus 33 minutes of sealed, steamed, pressure cooking) to make ‘em.
We had butter-coated, steamed potatoes with the ribs. They were also made in the Instant Pot.
Judge me if you want. Take my Man Card if you will. But before you do, stop by and try some of these. I think Grogg and Krell would’ve approved.
©2020 John Moore
John’s books, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, are available on Amazon and on John’s website at www.TheCountryWriter.com. His weekly John G. Moore Podcast appears on Spotify and iTunes.