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Membrane Debate

PhotoProPhotoPro Posts: 47
edited 10:03AM in EggHead Forum
I guess I haven't heard enough of it to get completely sick of the topic, so let's start it up again. I have always pulled the membrane off the back of my slabs, believing that I get better flavor penetration from the rub on that side. Now I am hearing respectable chefs saying that they leave the membrane in place on purpose, to help retain moisture in the ribs. My first thought is horsehockey! You are just too lazy to properly prepare a slab for barbecue. Have you ever had a moisture problem with anything you cooked in the egg? Heck no!

Okay, I am having a teachable moment (damn rare occasion). So tell me why you leave the membrane on your ribs, if you do.


  • PhotoProPhotoPro Posts: 47
    Forgot to click the subscribe checkbox...
  • CrimsongatorCrimsongator Posts: 5,795
    I take them off so I can season both sides of ribs.

    Membranes are left on in restaraunts because it takes extra labor to remove them (or more money to buy them removed). It may help with moisture especially on ribs that are cooked and held or reheated. I say remove them!
  • Richard FlRichard Fl Posts: 8,248
    I usually take them off for better penetration of seasoning.
    I have a friend who has owned several 'Q" joints over the years and other than the labor involved, even at his home, he said the membrane helps keep the meat moist and therefore he does not remove.
    I have noticed some ribs from Costco have had the membrane already removed.
  • Capt FrankCapt Frank Posts: 2,578
    A. Never a "drying out" problem cooking on the egg

    B. I don't like eating the membrane, tastes like I left the plastic wrap on

    C. Better rub penetration with it gone
  • ScottborasjrScottborasjr Posts: 3,494
    I have always removed for bbq. One recipe I have seen said that removal wasn't necessary when cooking them at temps above 325. Personally, I have taken them off no matter what. ;)
    I raise my kids, cook and golf.  When work gets in the way I'm pissed, I'm pissed off 48 weeks a year.
    Inbetween Iowa and Colorado, not close to anything remotely entertaining outside of football season. 
  • Judy MayberryJudy Mayberry Posts: 1,991
    As I only buy them at Costco, the membrane is already removed. But I remember in the old days, it took less than a minute to slip a knife tip up a bone, lift an edge of the membrane, and using a paper towel to pull the whole membrane sheet off. Then the rub could season both sides of the slab/rack.
    Judy in San Diego
  • deepsouthdeepsouth Posts: 1,796
    the only times i ever left the membrane on is when i didn't know to/how to take it off.
  • RRPRRP Posts: 22,058
    I'm firmly in the remove it camp! Otherwise it's like taking a shower with a rain coat on and wondering why you didn't get wet!
    L, M, S, &  Mini
    And oh yes...also a 17" BlackStone gas fired griddle! 
    Dunlap, IL
    Re- gasketing AMERICA one yard at a time!
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,946
    I don't know if you have ever come across a brand of sauce or rub from a guy named Billy Bones. He was a great pro, retired now as far as I know. He said he always left the membrane on, BUT, he always raised the temp to 425 at the end of the cook to burn them off. He also used a standard metal pit that would have had a tendency to dry ribs out.

    Considering that the Egg does a might good job of keeping food moist, I pull the membrane. And, I'm just lazy enough that its to much to raise the temp to 425, and be sure to pull the ribs before they burn.
  • Austin  EggheadAustin Egghead Posts: 3,907
    Pre Costco days I removed the membrane. Costco does the work for me now. The butcher in south Austin will ask with or without. ;)
    Large, small and mini now Egging in Rowlett Tx
  • JeffersonianJeffersonian Posts: 4,244
    I've heard that metaphor before, but it wasn't about barbecue :laugh:
  • I usually pull it off but one time my wife picked up a rack of pre-seasoned ribs from a local grocer. Since they were prepared, I didn't bother to look for a membrane. It was on there. I smoked around 250 the whole time. The meat was very tender but that dang membrane was tough and annoying!
  • RRPRRP Posts: 22,058
    :laugh: :laugh: me too, but the principle is the same :laugh: :laugh:
    L, M, S, &  Mini
    And oh yes...also a 17" BlackStone gas fired griddle! 
    Dunlap, IL
    Re- gasketing AMERICA one yard at a time!
  • BotchBotch Posts: 6,357
    Sometimes the membrane comes off so easily, and I appreciate how the rub penetrates the meat.
    Sometimes the membrane is *&%^$@#, and I appreciate how it keeps the meat moist.

    Live fast, die young, and leave a well-marbled corpse.  
    Ogden, Utard.  
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 13,011
    what WAS it about? :ermm:

    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!


    Central Connecticut 

  • CanuggheadCanugghead Posts: 6,195
    Hey Brad, long time no talk, hope all is well with you. By the way, this is a family forum ;)
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 13,011
    To many people recommend removal. MUST be a good reason. Besides, it's just too easy!

    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!


    Central Connecticut 

  • BobinFlaBobinFla Posts: 363
    Billy Bones GRILLED his ribs. And prep time was a factor, too since he was cooking at "Rib Burn" type of contests where speed and volume were all that counts.

    There is a difference.

  • HungryManHungryMan Posts: 3,470
    I have done it both ways. It's all good.
  • DavekatzDavekatz Posts: 763
    Mine always come with the membrane removed so I had stopped checking them, but then I got a batch that had it on and I didn't catch it until the end of the cook.

    The ribs should have been done, but the rack wouldn't fold. I flipped them over and there was the membrane. I took it off with the tongs and there were a TON of meat juices under there.

    The ribs ended up being wonderful, so now if I get a batch with the membrane on, I leave it. The penetration of the rub flavor seems to be the the same either way.
    Food & Fire - The carnivorous ramblings of a gluten-free grill geek.
  • loco_engrloco_engr Posts: 3,673
    I did once, and found I could tell because of the unchew-able membrane that was still there!
  • CBBQCBBQ Posts: 610
    I'll disagree. If you are cooking ribs for yourself and/or a few friends I take the membrane off. If you are cooking to immediately eat then take the membrane off. But if I am cooking ahead of time or for a large group I leave the membrane on for the stated reason. It helps retain moisture. When I pre-cook for a fair or event I usually cook ribs for 4 hrs and then cool/freeze. I pull the membrane before reheating. The flavor on a straight-to-plate dinner is better if the membrane is removed. But if you're cooking ahead of time it stays on. You can ad flavor at the end.
  • Gator Bait Gator Bait Posts: 5,244
    I had never cooked ribs till I settled here and was introduced to WessB's Rib page where I learned to remove the membrane. I have done it this way ever since. I have seen how tough the membrane is when pulling it off and it has never occurred to me to leave it on. :blink:


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