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Thursday, September 2, 2010

BBQ DEBATE: "Silverskin" (Rib Membrane)

To remove or not to remove... that is the question.

You've probably read about it in various rib-related posts on Sizzle Grove, or if you watch either of Steven Raichlen's cooking shows (Primal Grill and Barbecue University), heard him explain why it's important.  When cooking ribs, many barbecuers remove the "silverskin," which is a thin, but tough membrane on the underside of ribs.  The reason this is done is twofold: one, this membrane supposedly impedes the absorption of rubs/marinade/smoke, and two, it's basically inedible anyway.

Underside of back ribs

However, there are some barbecuers who intentionally do not remove this membrane.  Is it laziness?  Is it time constraints?

No to both.  Some say that the membrane is actually useful in maintaining ribs' moisture.  Back ribs in particular may run the risk of drying out, as they are not quite as thick or fatty as spare ribs.  This membrane may keep moisture from dripping out.

Additionally, the membrane may be removed quite easily after the ribs are cooked.  And it is a bit tricky to remove it before cooking.

So, what do you all think?  Is it more helpful to keep the silverskin on to keep ribs moist, or is it better to ensure plenty of smoke and spice absorption by removing it?  We at Sizzle Grove tend to remove it, and then baste back ribs to maintain moisture.  Send your success stories (or your non-success stories and questions) to

(Photo licensed by Creative Commons)

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