Underrated Kitchen Tool #1 – Pliers

Yes, pliers. If you don’t have a pair of pliers set aside for food use in the kitchen you need to get down to your hardware vendor of choice and get a pair right now. Buy a serviceable pair with non-slip grips, put them in the utensil drawer, and use them. I was pulling the membranes from beef ribs today – you would be surprised at how many people don’t think to do it for beef ribs – and it occurred to me that without my trusty kitchen pliers it would be a miserable job.

They help with everything from skewering to threading to picking bones to removing membranes and silverskin. And a bucketful of other things besides. A quality pair will set you back less than 10 bucks, they will last you forever, and you will thank me every time you use them.

See you at the hardware store.

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2 Responses to Underrated Kitchen Tool #1 – Pliers

  1. Susan says:

    So, they say there is no such thing as a dumb question, right? So I’ll ask – why do I need to remove the membranes from the ribs?

    • pitboss says:

      And I’ll answer! There are three reasons for taking the membrane off the ribs … two important from an eating perspective, and one that is pretty much just cosmetic.

      One: The membrane is nasty tough. One of the membrane’s functions is to keep the ribs all aligned and in place despite all sorts of expansion and contraction of the muscles around there. This means it is strong and stretchy and neither of those properties lend themselves to an enjoyable bite into a rack of otherwise tender ribs. You are either going to have to pull it off before you cook, or have the specter of your guests tearing it off with their teeth at the table. Go for the former.

      Two: The membrane is not exactly porous. The other main function of the membrane is to keep the chest cavity more or less air-tight so that the diaphragm can expand and contract the internal volume for breathing. That means that your rub and/or mop and/or smoke is not going to penetrate that side of the ribs and you are going to miss out on the maximum amount of favour that your rack can carry.

      Three: The properties that we mentioned in one and two probably mean your ribs will curl up as they cook. The membrane contracts as it dries and toughens, and you get those funny-looking nautilus ribs. Not the worst thing in the world to be sure, but why put up with that when you can have a nice straight and yummy-looking rack with a bit of effort off the get-go?

      Thanks for writing – and I hope you have an awesome barbeque season!

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