The Rib Project

The Rib Project
By: Eben van Tonder
16 September 2019


I have been working with Transglutaminase for many years. In January I pulled everything I have done on bacon together in an article: Best Bacon System on Earth. The application to pork ribs is something I have played with for years but could never completely master.

Over the years, the reality dawned on me that Transglutaminase can never be more than a processing aid. It is one of many methods developed over the course of time to bind meat, whether it is in cooked hams, extending bacon logs to fit the use of high-speed slicers or in sausages. Using a number of these techniques in combination yields the best results. Relying on Transglutaminase alone for any result is a mistake.

I used work that was developed over many years.  Here is the story.

Amazing Results

I worked for years on reconstituting ribs and developed one but needed a showcase to test it in the market.   At a management meeting, the chairman, owner, and founder of the new company I joined after I left Woody’s told the story of how he started his company by selling ribs. He celebrated his 60th birthday this week. This inspired me to make my reformed rib. Stephen, my processing partner and I took Thursday night I did half of a new process to adjust for the equipment at Van Wyngaardt. The results were very good. So, on Friday night we pressed on to build on the successful adjustments of the previous night. The results were spectacular!!

Product Sampling

We had the honour of serving it to guests whom he and his wife invited to their farm to celebrate his birthday. The guests very graciously offered small suggestions to tweak it.  It was minor changes, but as one learns from any focus group, helpful.

Can we have the recipe?

The recipe I developed over the years is simple, but very effective.  Most of my butcher friends will anyway figure it out in minutes what took me years! There are a number of clues in the photos below. 🙂

A Combination of Systems

It is very important to at least state that the use of Transglutaminase in the product is kept to a bare minimum. The major mechanisms relied on are ancient.