“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
John Adams wrote this to his wife Abigail. It was in fact on the 2nd of July that Congress resolved to separate from Great Britain, but the Declaration of Independence was discussed, debated, and rewritten. So we celebrate the day of the signing on the 4th. I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments expressed by President Adams, but don’t forgot one key factor.
In a word… Ribs. You can go buy pretty ribs, but for my money it’s the whole package. I want you to plan a dinner with the family where you are serving up a whole pork loin that you have slow smoked all day and plated as chops, because you want your ribs from a whole, bone-in, loin. This is the primal cut between the butt (shoulder) and the ham (butt) and above the belly where bacon comes from.
Now, obviously you’re thinking, “But Lowry, why not just buy a whole pig?” And I’ll tell you why…nope, no answer. Get a whole pig, cut it stem to stern and take the loin primal cut to break out your ribs.
When you butcher this wonderful piece of meat you are going to remove some blade bone from the shoulder end and then trim off the feather bones on the lower side. Don’t just pitch them. You’ll need snacks while you work your ribs.
You’ll want to cut away the whole loin and the tender loin. If you were to slice the whole bone-in loin between the ribs without this step you would be left with the pork equivalent of the T-bone steak, with your filet mignon on the smaller side and your New York strip on the larger.
Now you’re ready to go add your rub. I make my own. And I rarely repeat the previous rub. Even if the last rub was perfect I can do better. However, as a base for the rubs I use either brown sugar or dry mustard and then build up flavors. Rub with coarse sea salt a few hours beforehand, preferably overnight. This gives you your dry brine.
Smoke these slow over hardwood fire as previously discussed. I build the fire at 0600, drop ribs by 0700, and start eating around 1100. I do this for two reasons. One, I can grill my half inch thick bacon for breakfast. Two, you can’t drink scotch all day unless you start in the morning.
When you drop the ribs, smoke the tender loin too. Smoke for just a little while and pull it off the grill while it is still rare. Once the horde grows impatient for ribs you’ll take this out, slice into quarter inch thick medallions, grill, and eat directly from the fire.
Ribs are ready when they rotate slightly in their meat socket. Eat up, have fun, and be safe. It’ll be tempting to have too much fun over the 4th. Remember, don’t drive drunk, don’t drink stupid, and don’t cook bacon naked.