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Ribs this weekend, tips for getting the membrane off...

jostheimjostheim Posts: 53
edited August 2011 in EggHead Forum
I am doing ribs for the family (specifically my 6 year old niece requested them) this weekend and figured I would ask about what is probably the most frustrating part of prepping them: taking off the membrane on the back.   I use a sharp knife to try and get under the membrane and then use a paper towel to get a grip on it (if I can get the membrane loosened).  For some racks it comes off easy, others I literally can't get the membrane off.

Any special tricks/techniques I should try?  How many people just leave them on?


Comments

  • I use a Butter Knife so the knife so it doesn't tear the membrane. I use the paper towel to get a grip on it sometimes, using them together is the best way.  I have not found any easier way to do it. I dont like leaving the membrane on, it is a little tougher to eat.
  • I do mine the same way, use a fork to get under a corner and work it from the small end first with my paper towel laden grip. I never do get all of it completely off but a fair amount does peel off at room temp.
    T_H
  • GeoGeo Posts: 53
    Try to slide one or two fingers under the membrane from the center of the rib. Once your fingers are under the membrane gently lift and the membrane will peel off from the center to the ends.
  • NibbleMeThisNibbleMeThis Posts: 2,254
    Spares or loin backs?

    For loin backs I find it is easiest to start in the middle, work a finger from one side to the other, then just lift the membrane right off in one move.  Here's a video I did to demonstrate this.   

    For spare ribs, I do like everyone else, butter knife and paper towel from the end.
    Knoxville, TN
  • I also use the butter knife method, but i try to start it from the bone, not the meat.  Press the knife down hard against the rib bone and slide toward the center of the rib.  Thus usually "peels" the membrane over the knife and I use the paper towel and pull method from there
    ;)
  • Also be aware that some slabs have already had the membrane removed.  Makes it a challenge if you don't figure it out, :))  Don't ask me why, but I have occasionally gotten slabs with no membrane.  Maybe the pig was genetically modified?
    The Naked Whiz
  • I use the paper towel to actually grab the membrane. I start in the middle. And proceed with the method GEO described. But just continually grab with the towel and it will be a piece of cake.
  • I usually just use my hands or a paper towel.  If that don't work, you can try some catfish skinners.

  • As others have posted - some do indeed have the membrane already removed. I think that if you buy from Costco, most, if not all of the time, they have the membranes removed.
    Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup... Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. - Bruce Lee
  • Village IdiotVillage Idiot Posts: 6,951
    I always had trouble until I started using a paper towel to grip the membrane.  No problem after that.
    __________________________________________

    Dripping Springs, Texas.
    Just west of Austintatious

  • Spares also have 2 layers of membrane.  It is best to take the outside layer off and leave the thin second layer on as it helps hold the bones in.  Dry paper towels and a butter knife with a slight "wiggleling" motion seems to do the trick.

     

    -SMITTY     

    from SANTA CLARA, CA

  • jostheimjostheim Posts: 53
    As others have posted - some do indeed have the membrane already removed. I think that if you buy from Costco, most, if not all of the time, they have the membranes removed.
    These are costco ribs, and that is good to know.  I guess my procedure of trying for 10 minutes or so then quitting probably just meant that the racks I couldn't get simply didn't have membranes.  

    Thanks everyone for the advice, sounds like I wasn't too far off with my procedure.
  • Misippi EggerMisippi Egger Posts: 5,095
    jostheim,

    Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. 
    :O

    I remember one time spending 30 or more minutes trying to get the membrane off some racks that had already had them removed!  It was two 3-packs from Sam's and some in the same packs had membranes and some did not.  Go Figure !
  • jostheimjostheim Posts: 53
    jostheim,

    Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. 
    :O

    I remember one time spending 30 or more minutes trying to get the membrane off some racks that had already had them removed!  It was two 3-packs from Sam's and some in the same packs had membranes and some did not.  Go Figure !
    It is comforting to find out I am not alone in this conundrum!  Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to identify those with membranes and those without... or I guess hopefully none of them have membranes, that would make my life easier!
  • Misippi EggerMisippi Egger Posts: 5,095
    josthiem,

    Anatomy 101:  There are two membranes on all ribs (your own ribs, too). One layer is adhered to the bone and meat - that's what you leave on (and what we struggled so hard to get off when the other one was already removed). The other one in a live hog is up against the lungs and this is the one you want to remove. There is a potential 'space' between the two membranes and that's what you want to get into with a dull knife along a bone, lift up enough to get a finger in there, work it across to the other end of the bone, then pull off with a paper towel.

    TMI? probably . :-&
  • Try to slide one or two fingers under the membrane from the center of the rib. Once your fingers are under the membrane gently lift and the membrane will peel off from the center to the ends.
  • I use the spoon handle technique. Start in the middle and with a paring knife, just get a little pocket started. Grab a spoon with the bottom of the spoon bowl place in the palm of my hand. Push spoon handle into the pocket you started and get handle to come out under the membrane to other side. Lift membrane up and slide spoon back and forth to ends of membrane.
    And yes I have had a couple of those genetically modified pigs with no membrane, thought it might have dissolved in Cryo pack though.
    :-\"
    Billy
    Wilson, NC
    Large BGE - Stoker II - Thermapen - 250 Cookbooks
  • SpoonSpoon Posts: 328
    It is weird when you get a Costco 3 pack and one will have the membrane off and the other two are still on. I guess we shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.
    "Pork so tender you can pull it with a spoon." ~Spoon
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