The Biggest Mistake People Make With Ribs, According To Pitmaster Rodney Scott - Exclusive

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If you're familiar with Rodney Scott from his episode of "Chef's Table" or his cookbook, you probably know that his specialty is South Carolina-style whole hog barbecue basted with a vinegar-based sauce. That's the first kind of barbecue he made when he was a kid, and that's what he's built his reputation on.

Barbecuing a whole hog might seem like too much for a home pitmaster to attempt, but in an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Scott encourages home cooks to give it a shot. In fact, depending on the size of the party you're serving, Scott thinks a whole hog might actually be the easiest thing you could barbecue: "If you can, cook an entire whole hog. That's lots of sandwiches, that's lots of small servings." One pig can feed a huge number of people.

However, Scott is cognizant of the fact that cooking (or even buying) a whole pig isn't realistic for some people, and his suggestion for those folks is ribs. Even though grilling up a few racks of ribs might be a little more manageable than smoking a whole hog, that doesn't mean you can't screw them up. There's one common way home cooks prepare ribs that Scott says you should avoid at all costs.

Keeps your ribs away from water

In Scott's view, the number one thing to stay away from when you're cooking ribs is boiling them before they go on the grill. Parboiling the ribs can make them tender, but it comes with some disadvantages as well. As Scott says, "Sometimes, people don't finish them on the grill long enough after boiling them. You [end up with] this boiled meat with a touch of smoke on it." The whole point of cooking pork over an open fire is to make it delicious and smoky, and by parboiling your ribs, you're not going to get as much of an intense smoke flavor. Instead, take the time to do your ribs the right way and smoke them over a fire for the entire cooking process.

In addition to eschewing boiling, Scott makes his ribs delicious with his trademark rib rub. The rub, which you can find the recipe for in his cookbook, is a mixture of salt, sugar, paprika, other spices, and MSG. While you might be a little hesitant to use MSG, its unhealthy reputation is overblown, and per Scott, "a touch of MSG doesn't hurt, in my opinion, because it's everywhere." There's a good chance you eat it every day without even realizing it, and it makes food taste incredibly delicious. "One of the things that MSG does is enhance what's already there. It's like hitting the turbo button on your race car." Who wouldn't want to make their ribs turbo-tasty?

Rodney Scott's BBQ has locations in Charleston, Atlanta, and Alabama. You can buy Scott's cookbook, "Rodney Scott's World of BBQ," on Amazon.