Do you know that aside from the popular spare ribs and baby back ribs, there are several other types of ribs that you can enjoy?
The rib cuts that are available in the supermarket are sourced from several animal species but the most popular are beef and pork.
These ribs are notable for having large amounts of connective tissue, fats and meat.
Depending on the rib cut, you can cook them in many ways such as for grilling, baking, smoking and frying. They can even be made into a flavorful crock pot dish.
Different Types of Ribs
Pork spareribs are a cut taken from the underbelly of the pig, at the bottom section of the ribs and breastbone. It has more rib bone than attached meat plus a bit of fat. But even so, these pork ribs are considered one of the thicker and meatier varieties. It has more meat which is left after removing the bacon.
A slab of spare rib typically weighs between 2 and 5 pounds with heavier slabs cut into smaller racks.
Typically, a slab of pork spare ribs has 11 ribs including some cartilage. It is notable for having excess fat which contributes to its tenderness and rich flavor.
Pork spare ribs are best when cooked low and slow, allowing the fats to completely dissolve and the meat to become tender. If you’re buying a whole slab, you’ll notice the flap of meat which is often referred to as “skirt.” You need to remove this part and trim excess fats to ensure the best results.
While spare ribs are generally pork ribs, beef back ribs are also commonly called spare ribs. Occasionally, lamb ribs that are cut from the breast are also sometimes referred to as spareribs.
2. Baby Back Ribs
Who doesn’t recognize baby back ribs? Out of the different types of pork ribs, this type is considered an all-time BBQ classic.
Baby back ribs are also called by other names such as back, loin or Canadian back ribs.
Baby back ribs aren’t from baby pigs, as opposed to what the name suggests. The word “baby” implies the small size of the ribs.
Traditional baby back ribs are taken from where the rib and spine meet. These pork ribs are less fatty and contain loin meat, making them more tender. Cooking time is also shorter compared with other types of ribs.
Baby back ribs are typically sold as a rack which includes more than 10 curved ribs with a uniform length between 3 and 6 inches.
To prepare baby back pork ribs for cooking, you need to remove the membrane first as they don’t soften when cooked. The member is a piece of tissue found on the underside of the ribs.
You can cook baby back ribs in the oven or on the grill. They make a delicious treat.
3. Flanked Style Beef Ribs
Flanked, beef spare ribs and beef short ribs are technically from the same piece of beef ribs. They just differ on how the meat is cut.
Flanked or flanken ribs are generally cut across the bone into 2-inch slices. When cut along the bone into 1-inch slices, it is called beef spare ribs.
When the same beef ribs are cut across the bone at about 3-inch thick, it is called short ribs.
Each piece of flanked-style ribs consists of 3-4 pieces of small bones, and they are really flavorful. They are marbled with connective tissues and fat and become super tender even if marinated and cooked for a short time.
When grilling flanked-style beef ribs, it’s best to use high heat over a short time. These beef ribs dry out quickly especially with extended cooking and when they do, they become tough.
The best way to cook these ribs is to use high heat when grilling. There’s a balancing act when preparing flanked style ribs because they can dry out quickly, making them tough.
4. Short Ribs
When it comes to handling beef, there are typically eight distinct prime cuts, and one of those cuts is the chuck. The chuck is where short beef ribs are taken.
A beef chuck is a rectangular cut of meat that is about an inch thick and contains part of the shoulder bones. It is often known as a “7-bone steak” because the shape of the shoulder blade resembles the number 7.
Short beef ribs have a rich flavorful fat as well as a bit of high-quality meat with a deep beefy flavor. In short, short ribs are a treat for anyone who loves beef.
Traditionally, you can prepare beef short ribs by braising. It is a process that involves searing the meat before baking in a liquid concoction. Preparation may vary but the English-style method calls for cutting the beef short ribs in smaller pieces to make them easier to braise.
5. St. Louis Style Ribs
St. Louis style ribs start off as spareribs, less the cartilage, sternum and rib tips. What is left is a rectangular rack with a more uniform appearance. Compared with other BBQ ribs, this one is easier to prepare and cook.
While spare ribs have much meat and are thicker, St. Louis style ribs are trimmed down with the brisket bone removed.
You can prepare St. Louis style ribs just like the way you would prepare or cook a spare rib. Make sure to remove the membrane from the St. Louis ribs before you slow cook it to get the best results.
6. Country-Style Ribs
Boneless country-style ribs or country-style pork ribs are an intriguing variation of pork barbecue ribs. Cut from the end of the loin muscle, country-style ribs are very meaty and do not contain rib bone or rib cage.
Among the different types of ribs we know, this one is unique. The country-style ribs are more like pork chops in that they are great for grilling instead of the typical low and slow cooking that most ribs require. However, they are a bit fattier than pork chops. And behind the fats of country style-ribs, there is enough meat that most ribs have.
It’s worth noting that country-style pork rib chops aren’t true ribs but they are called such because they resemble pork ribs in terms of their texture, flavor and overall profile.
Country-style pork ribs are very versatile. You could cook it in an offset smoker as is or use it in various recipes such as pork pozole, chili verde, pork carnitas and pulled pork among others.
7. Lamb Riblets
Lamb riblets are from the lamb’s spareribs. These riblets have lean meat and a small layer of fat. They are a very flavorful cut.
Lamb riblets can be used in a wide variety of cooking techniques such as grilling, broiling, braising and drying. Before cooking, it’s best to marinate the riblets to enhance their flavors. You can marinate it in a mix that contains red wine, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper.
In the barbecue world, pork ribs are quite popular among enthusiasts.
There are different types of pork ribs that you can try on including baby back ribs and pork spareribs. Slow cooking in the grill allows for the connective tissue in these ribs to soften.
Whether you are cooking flanked-style beef ribs, baby back ribs or other types of ribs, the best way to cook them in the oven is to have the bone side up and the meat side down. This will give you tender and juicy meat.
There are regional variations to the dry and wet rub that you can use for BBQ. If you don’t have a favorite rub, you can easily find a recipe online.
Typically, you can make using these basic ingredients: brown sugar, cinnamon, smoked paprika, salt, celery and cayenne powder.
For the best result, allow the rub to stay on the ribs for at least 15 minutes before cooking. The longer the rub stays, the more flavor your meat can absorb.
Knowing the different types of ribs allows you to easily identify the type of rib cuts that’s perfect for your dish. Next time you’ll visit the supermarket, there will be less confusion as to which cut is which.