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Hidden rib membrane?

WileECoyoteWileECoyote Posts: 516
edited 2:18PM in EggHead Forum
I have done baby back ribs about 5 times and full spare ribs twice on the egg. I learned on this forum about how to pull off the membrane from the back, starting in the center and using a paper towel before cooking them.

I did this every time and they all came out pretty good but each set of ribs still had a thin and somewhat rubbery layer on the back of the ribs which made it harder to pull them apart. Is this possibly a second membrane and is this normal? The top membrane layer pulls off easily and completely, leaving only a thin patchy layer of fat, but once they are cooked then the backs still have this mystery layer. It is edible and tastes ok but I prefer to get rid of it so I won't have to cut or pull the ribs apart with force.


  • RascalRascal Posts: 3,805
    I've noticed that too at times but don't know how to deal with it...
  • emillucaemilluca Posts: 673
    Time for me to get flamed. I say leave the membrane on the ribs. It helps hold in the natural juice and will control how the rib shrinks. I also leave the flap on. It is the skirt steak in pork fashion. The skin on it also will not be tough. You do a lot to get a good skirt steak in beef and then on the pork ribs you take it off and likely throw it away. Does that make sense? I have done both ways and the membrane will not be tough unless you are getting 5lbs and up size ribs. You buy 3-5 lb ribs and it is a moot point.
    Try it don't just do it because I can or someone says it is the way to do it.
    Give it a try your next cook. Take the membrane off 1/2 the rib and leave on the rest. Just take a knife and cut on the bone straight down the membrane will come off to the cut.
    Be gentle on me with the flame.
  • HungryManHungryMan Posts: 3,470
    I'm with you. I can go either way with the membrane. I can't imagine why anyone would take off the meat flap. Go buy babybacks if you don't want the extra meat. It seems pointless to take a large sparerib and cut them into St. Louis style, just get babybacks. This would start an interesting thread I think. Lots of opinions on this subject.
  • BuckdodgerBuckdodger Posts: 948
    E...don't have to worry about flame from this bunch. I have seen a lot of ways the eggers do ribs and have not seen any critical comments. Some advice maybe but always positive. Enjoy ur ribs your way.
    Alex City, Al

    Alexander City,Al
  • crghc98crghc98 Posts: 1,006
    I've done babybacks membrane off and on.....

    I like a little pull so I think when cooking for myself I will leave on.
  • Essex CountyEssex County Posts: 991
    I always trim my ribs to St Louis style. You're right. I end up with a bunch of tasty scraps that I either cook alongside the ribs or freeze and save for a later cook. They work well for chili verde.

    Can't say I know what this second membrane is. I'll have to look for it when I cook my next batch of ribs.
  • Ike WittIke Witt Posts: 195
    Saw this on a Today show segment about que'n ribs.

    Pull the top membrane, make shallow cuts about 2 in long between the rib bones on the back through what people are calling the second membrane. Put plenty of rub on the back and into the cuts. I've tried this and can't tell a second membrane exists. Didn't notice any loss of moisture.

    good luck
  • StanleyStanley Posts: 623
    I made ribs for decades w/o removing a membrane. Much of what I learned about cooking I learned watching my mom, and she never pulled a membrane. Started pulling the membrane when I started Egging. For me it's more about getting more rub and smoke flavor into the meat than it is about texture. Seems logical, but who knows?
  • I've cooked countless ribs (as many here have)... baby back, st louis style and spares.

    There are 2 membranes on ribs.

    The first one comes off rather easily by the method you described. It is thicker and rubbery. In competition you cannot win if you leave this layer on your ribs. I've gotten used to removing it and everyone I make ribs for like it off. I think a famous Memphis BBQ joint leaves them on.

    The 2nd is tying the bones and meat together. It is extremly thin. I've pulled it off by mistake. A butcher removed the 1st membrane, I didn't notice and pulled off the 2nd layer. You will expose the meat if you remove this layer. Once cooked the ribs fall apart. The meat pulls off the bone completely. You need a small amount of connective tissue (ewwwww) to keep things intact. I would leave it on.

    If you are cooking your ribs with the 3/1/1 (babybacks) or 3/2/1 (spares) method this inner membrane is almost indetectable and should cut very easy and clean.

    If you don't know the 3/1/1 method ... it's 3 hours on the smoker unwrapped ... 1 or 2 hours in foil or in a pan with flavoring juice and 1 more our unwrapped for saucing and final flavoring. 5 hours for baby backs and 6-7 for spares. B)

    One final freebie tip .. is the bone tips .. there is a very small bone at the end of one side of babybacks located between the rib bones themselves .. it is removed with a simple v cut when you trim and membrane your ribs. This bone typically prevents a clean cut (top to bottom).

  • WileECoyoteWileECoyote Posts: 516
    Great comments by all. Very good info on the second membrane. I suspected it was between the bone and back meat since it is usually not visible until some of the fat cooks off.

    I have eaten ribs with both membranes and with only one membrane. They have all been good provided they were cooked long enough to be tender, however I dislike having to "pull" or "cut" the ribs while eating. I also hate chomping into a good hunk of tender meet and then having the chewy rubbery gristle-like membrane stick out to ruin the melt-in-your-mouth consistency. It is not a big deal to some but I have grown to dislike the membrane even if it is thin. So my goal is to remove it if possible, and if not possible then to cook the ribs in such a way as to make it as tender and transparent as possible.

    Would it help to cook the ribs with the membrane side down or up? Is there a special rub or spice I can put on the membrane to tenderize it more than usual? I have a Reveo Marivac so I usually clean and marinate the ribs before cooking but the second membrane is still noticeable. I would be ok with cooking my ribs on foil or cast iron if they needed something to hold them together. I have a vertical rib rack now and it does ok but it is really difficult to clean.
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