Please Remove the Membrane Before Cooking Ribs

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

As far as meaty cooking  projects go, ribs are a fairly easy one. Whether you’re smoking, grilling, baking or pressure cooking, preparing an impressive rack is something most home cooks can master without too much distress. But there is one thing a lot of newbie rib cookers forget to do, and it can greatly mar an otherwise enjoyable rib-eating experience.

If you look on the less fleshy side of a rack of ribs, you may notice that is a little shiny — almost like there’s a gossamer-thin gauze stretched over the meat and bone. That’s because there is, kind of. It’s a membrane (called the peritoneum, yum!) and, unlike collagen and connective tissue, it doesn’t soften when cooked.

Photo: Claire Lower

When left on, the membrane acts like a chewy piece of very thin plastic wrap, ruining your rib experience with its toughness. Leaving it on is a crime against diners and whatever animal died to give you its ribs. Luckily, the membrane is embarrassingly easy to remove. You don’t even need a knife. (Though I have seen people try to cut it off, there’s really no reason to get a blade involved.)

To remove a rib membrane, all you need is your hands and a paper towel. Flip the rack over so the meaty side is facing down, then, starting at the smaller end of your ribs, use your fingernail to separate the shiny membrane from the series of meaty bones. Once you’ve got a little piece peeled up, grab it with a paper towel, hold the smaller end of your rack down with your other hand, and pull. The membrane will come right off, and your ribs will be the better for it.

Log in to comment on this story!