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The Accidental Scientist: Science of Cooking Exploratorium
Candy Bread Eggs Pickles Meat Seasoning

The basic components of a marinade: acid (vinegar), oil, and herbs

recipe: Cajun Pork Ribs
Ribs are a good choice for grilling, a dry-heat method of cooking, because they come from an area of the pig where the muscles aren't used much. They don't have much connective tissue but do have a fair amount of fat. This recipe uses a marinade to spice up the ribs. Marinades usually consist of three things: acid, oil, and herbs. Here, olive oil, vinegar, and cayenne and chili peppers are used to add flavor.



Recipe Conversions

When handling raw meat, make sure you wash your hands, and any surfaces and utensils the meat has touched, thoroughly and often! Raw meat contains lots of infectious bacteria that can make you very ill!
What Do I Need? .
For the marinade:

Did You Know?
The word Cajun is the slang word for Acadian. The Acadians were French-speaking people who migrated to southern Louisiana from Nova Scotia in the 18th century. They prepared food from locally available ingredients, spicing it up with lots of pepper, and usually cooked everything in one pot.

1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup scallions, diced fine
1 tablespoon cayene pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 pounds pork ribs
• a large plastic container for marinating meat
• a charcoal grill  
• wood chips  
• charcoal
• matches  
• a sharp paring knife  
• tongs
• a marinade brush  
• a kitchen timer
• a meat thermometer  
• a plate  
What Do I Do?


1. Mix together the first six ingredients and set aside.


Bones in meat contribute to flavor. Make sure the ribs you buy are not baby-back ribs. The bones in baby-back ribs are smaller and won't add as much flavor.


2. Trim any excess fat from the ribs with a sharp paring knife, and poke small holes in the surface of the meat.

Make sure not to poke too many holes or make the holes too big. While holes allow more marinade to seep in, they also cause the meat to lose moisture.

3. Place meat in tupperware and pour marinade over it. Seal container tightly and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight (8 hours).

Did You Know?
There is sugar in this marinade, one of the ingredients needed to trigger the Maillard reaction. This reaction adds more flavor to the meat.
4. Prepare coals per package instructions. When they have become grey and hot, place the ribs on the grill. If the grill is sticky, greasing it with olive oil before cooking may help.

Try to get charcoal that is either charred wood or natural briquets. Composition briquets have bad-tasting chemicals that are transferred through the smoke to the surface of the meat.


5. Set your timer for 30 minutes. Test the meat as it cooks by inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and waiting for several minutes until you get a consistent reading. Watch the meat darken on the outside and smell it as it cooks—it begins to smell after a few moments when the outside temperature reaches 260° F, and the Maillard reaction occurs.

Don't use the marinade as a sauce! The marinade contains infectious bacteria from the raw meat that can make you very ill!

6. Cook until well done—no pink flesh, and a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 165° F. This should take about 1 hour.


7. Remove from grill and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes, since the meat inside has a high temperature and will continue to cook.

Letting the ribs sit, or "rest," for a few minutes after cooking allows the heat in the bones to continue cooking the meat.



Share & Discuss
What is your favorite marinade?




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