Monday, May 11, 2015

The Ribalizer

Ribs - check out the smoke ring!
Some years I'm more excited about getting outside and grilling than others. This year, I'm itching to fire up the grill ... and the weather hasn't been cooperating. I've managed to do some outdoor cooking, but not nearly as much as I want to.

And of course, the gadgets I'm reviewing are more about summer cooking than about baking.

Today's gadget is a thing called The Ribalizer.

You might guess that it's designed for cooking ribs. Yup. When you buy it, you get four disposable aluminum pans, two very sturdy metal racks, and a pretty big pouch of rib rub (I transferred mine to a jar, and it was about a pint). Instructions and recipes are included, too.

Ribs on the grill with Ribalizer.
If you follow the rib-cooking instructions, you'll use two aluminum pans - one for the base and one for a cover - for each cooking session. They're disposable, but you can choose to wash them, if you prefer.

There's a bottom metal rack that keeps the ribs (or other food - more on that later) above the water that you'll be putting in the pan. And then there's another rack that keeps the ribs separated for cooking.

Instructions suggest rubbing the ribs well ahead of time and also taking time to soak wood chips for smoking. When you're ready, the ribs are arranged in the rack and you add water to the bottom of the pan.

Then, you set your grill up for smoking using whatever method is right for your grill.

Cooked ribs.
The first stage of cooking is with the pan uncovered so the ribs can absorb the smoke. In the second stage, you put the second pan on the Ribalizer as a cover and you continue cooking. I followed the high altitude cooking instructions and cooked the ribs with smoke for 1 hour and covered for 1 1/2 hours.

I've cooked ribs using pretty much every method there is, from par-boiling to no boiling. This is the first time I finished ribs with steam.

I have to say that I liked the result. I got a nice smoke ring, the ribs were tender enough but not mushy, but they still had a little chew. And the rib rub was nice, too.

But that wasn't enough testing. I saw that they mentioned that you can use the ribalizer without the rib separator to cook a roast, so I decided to cook a pork roast in the ribalizer. The weather wasn't conducive to outdoor cooking, so I used the ribalizer in the oven.

Pork roast in oven on rack.
I was more than happy with the pork roast, but the lightbulb moment was when I realized that this would be great for cooking any sort of food where you want a rack that's well above the bottom of the pan.

Most roasting racks are fairly low - maybe 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch at the most. If you want to pile vegetables under the roast or you want a lot of liquid underneath, you don't have to worry about the roast smashing the vegetables or drowning in the liquid.

The Ribalizer is pretty big, so if you've got a big turkey to roast, it's going to fit. The pans are steam tray pans that are 20.75 inches x 12.875 inches, and about 3 inches tall. The Ribalizer folks sell them, or you can buy them at places like Sam's Club or Costco, and maybe at some grocery stores as well.

The one downside to the ribalizer setup is that the aluminum pan just sort of snaps together with the racks, and they come apart just as easily, so you need to be really careful if you need to lift or move the pan.

And, seriously, you're using disposable pans, so there's always a risk of the pan bending. And if you're poking around with a fork, it's possible to stab a hole into the pan. My suggestion: if you need a more rigid, solid, sturdy pan, stack a few pans together.

Who's it for:  People who want a different way of cooking ribs.

Pros: Also great for roasts. Racks are dishwasher safe.

Cons: The aluminum pans can be flimsy. They're disposable, but also recyclable.

Wishes: I wish the racks actually fit in my dishwasher; but that's a dishwasher issue. My dishes barely fit.

Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.

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