Invented in 1982 by McDonald’s executive chef, Rene Arend, the McRib sandwich is only permanently part of the McDonalds menu in some European countries like Germany and Poland.
Every so often, here in Australia the marketing dept at McDonald’s decides to re-release the McRib sandwich, when they do it creates a mountain of hype and people come out of the woodwork to get one!
Described by McDonalds as: “Seasoned boneless pork dipped in a tangy BBQ sauce, topped with slivered onions and dill pickles, all served on a toasted homestyle bun.”
The Wikipedia entry provides a clue: A restructured boneless pork patty shaped like a miniature rack of ribs, barbecue sauce, onions, and pickles, served as a sandwich on a 5½ inch (14 cm) roll.
That word “Restructured” is the key to making a copy.
The process of “restructuring” meat was developed by the US Military. In a nutshell: meat is finely ground, bound together by the emulsified proteins then reshaped ready for cooking. Nowadays we have Transglutaminase and often this is used to “glue” the proteins together. Originally it was the extensive mixing of the meat flakes that cross linked the proteins in the meat, so it became a sticky solid mass.
It is the crosslinking process that I will use to form my “restructured boneless pork patty shaped like a miniature rack of ribs” as Wiki elegantly puts it.
The grinding plates do some of the work, but I manually manipulate the mix with my hands as well. Just take fistfuls of the ground meat and squeeze it out between your thumb and forefinger. I run through the mix a couple of times like this.
I put salt into the ground meat and gelatine. The salt will draw out moisture which the gelatine absorbs. Overnight “veins” of hydrated gelatine set within the structure of the formed patty.
When the patty is cooked, the gelatine remains stable till it reaches roughly 40°C (104°F) at which point it starts to denature and turns to liquid, this happens when the patty is almost cooked, it leaves gaps in the texture and provides moisture to the meat.
1kg (2lb) Pork Belly (or Shoulder) meat and fat (cut into cubes) Roughly 30-40%fat
22.5g (.8oz) Salt
22.5g (.8oz) unflavoured Gelatine powder
½ sliced white or red onion
1 Tablespoon Thyme liquid (see Notes)
½ teaspoon Chipotle powder
½ teaspoon Smoked Paprika
½ teaspoon Liquid Smoke
Long white Bread Roll
The Thyme Liquid, Smoked Paprika, Chipotle and Liquid Smoke are not necessary, but I like to put them in after the first grind, it adds interest to the flavour without taking it too far from the original. The Thyme will add a little sweetness to the pork.
For the Thyme Liquid (you could substitute Sage if you like):
Soak the Thyme in 2-3 Tablespoons of Boiling Water overnight.
I’m using Pork Scotch (Collar Butt) and Pork fat
Super-chill the pork and fat cubes in the freezer for an hour
Place the cold pork into a meat grinder with a 3mm plate and grind the meat
**Note: You can use a food processor for this as the smushy texture they produce is what you want.
Add 1 Tablespoon of the liquid from the Thyme (if using)
Sprinkle the Paprika, Chipotle and liquid smoke (if using) over the minced meat.
Sprinkle over the Salt and Gelatine and mix through the meat
Place the meat back through the grinder you will see a soft sticky “Sausage Mince” forms, you don’t want a complete paste, it should be sticky but not crumbly.
Now “Cross-link” the proteins by squeezing the mix through your hands and out between your thumb and index finger.
Run through the mix a couple of times, it is this cross-linking that will bind the patty and give it a bite like real ribs, you will end up with a smooth sticky paste.
Using wet hands, press a 115g (4oz) portion into a “Rib” shape patty, you can be as creative or as simple as you like.
Think about if you want the sculptured “rib bone” look, if you are grilling on a flat top or skillet only 50% of your surface will be caramelised, if you cook on a charcoal grill you will get more surface crust, a flat surface might suit your cooking method better. Having done it for the photos, I wouldn’t bother again.
Once moulded, cover the patties and store in the fridge overnight.
This step is important as the salt needs time to extract the myosin laden juices that the gelatine will absorb.
The mixture will firm up considerably overnight.
The next day the “Rib” patties will be ready to cook, either freeze them or cook today.
Grill the “Ribs” over a medium heat, like you would a burger.
Slather with your favourite BBQ Sauce and assemble your Sandwich.
The McRib has a sprinkle of raw onions and a few slices of pickle on top, it is served in a long “Hoagie” style roll.
Download the Recipe Sheet