Peeling ribs - worth it or not?

Joined Dec 18, 2010
I generally completely peel the "skin" from the inside of ribs... particularly pork spare or baby-back ribs... to expose the bone and meat on the back side.  I think it helps the rub and smoke penetrate but have never tested this theory.  On rare occasion I've just slit the backside between the bones to expose the meat.  Since peeling ribs is a time-consuming process I ask the expert -- is this something you really recommended?
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Joined May 5, 2011
I always peel ribs, Brian--pork, beef, lamb. The pleura is a tough membrane that I think impedes the penetration of the smoke and any rub you apply. Plus, it's just unappetizing; kind of like silverskin. Some pitmasters disagree with me, saying that the pleura is porous, but I'm going to keep removing it. Have been told a tool normally used for cleaning fish makes quick work of peeling the membrane off. Haven't tried it myself yet. I generally use a butterknife or flat screwdriver to get underneath the membrane on a middle bone, and then tear it off in both directions using paper towels to get a grip. Doesn't really take too long.
Joined May 29, 2011
I agree with removing it. I used to not think so but really, it makes all the difference. Yes, it's kind of a pain, but you make your own technique using paper towels and sharp knives. 

Some are easier to peel than others. Not sure why.
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Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
I hate it when the butcher nicks it and you have to peel it off in multiple pieces.
Joined Mar 21, 2008
I think the membrane gets tough and hard to chew. It also blocks penetration of smoke. I have tried it both ways and always peel.
Joined May 22, 2011
I think the easiest/fastest way to peel that membrane is using a tomato corer. This makes quick work as you just scrape a few of the bones and it comes off, usually in one piece.
Joined May 5, 2011
That's a tip I haven't heard before, Joe B. I don't think I have one of those in my batterie de cuisine. Does it look like an apple corer? 
Joined May 29, 2011
Hi Steve and Group:

A tomato corer is similar in appearnace to a melon baller or parisian scoop.  But it is shallow, small in diameter (perhaps a 1/3 of inch across) and has serations around the edge.

I must admit I usually just do the paper towel thing.  Sometimes, i will use a paring knife to get things started.  Most of the time the membrane will come off in one piece.

Everyones mileage will vary of course.
Joined Apr 3, 2010
The Tomato Corer tool in most cases and places is known as an Alligator or Crocadile Knife like a melon scoop is refered to as  A Parisienne Knife or scoop. The serrated section aside from removing the core also makes it easy to also remove seeds
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