Ribs: Flavorful Food

Ribs are the less meaty part of the chops such as in lamb, beef, pork and venison. It can be roasted, fried, grilled, braised, smoked, or baked and ribs are usually cooked in large pieces or what is known as rack of ribs which are usually 5 or more. Beef ribs and barbecue pork ribs are the usual dishes served with barbecue sauces in the American cuisine. A tender finished product is slowly roasted or barbecued in a range of ten to twelve hours.

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Beef Ribs

The beef ribs are a bone-in beef in primal cut which come from single or from several rack of ribs taken from the carcass. There are two main types of primal cut of beef ribs which are located in different parts of the beef carcass and here they are:

  • Short ribs consist of several ribs that are cut form a small corner of the square-cut chuck and from the rib and plate primal.
  • Rib steak is a single rib such as one of the ribs from 6 to 12 located in the rib primal section. With a rib bone attached, a rib steak is a rib eye steak.

Bone attached beef ribs have several terms within different places. Say for instance, in the American cuisine, it refers to beef rib, bone-in rib steak, bone-in beef rib, cowboy cut, or ribeye cowboy steak. While in the French cuisine, entrecote refers to the rib eye steak which is a rib steak detached from its bone. In fact, the rib steak is a very well-liked dish in French restaurants. Bone-in rib steak in Australia is called ribeye whereas if the bone is removed, it is already called whiskey fillet or scotch fillet. The asado de tira in the Argentine cuisine is the roast short ribs while the bone-attached rib steak is referred to as bife de Costilla. In the Spanish cuisine, the bone-in rib steak is often called chuleton, with or without bone.

Pork Ribs

In the Asian and North American cuisine, the popular cut of pork is called the pork ribs. It is served in barbecue sauce where a domestic pig’s ribcage is cut into slabs which are usually prepared in a variety of cooking such as grilling, smoking, or baking.

There are several types of pork ribs which depend on the part of ribcage from which they are cut. The levels of fat present in each cut and the difference of meat and bone thickness can change the texture and flavor of the pork rib dish that is prepared. The pleura or the layer of connective tissue which covers the inner surface of the ribcage is usually difficult to tenderly cook, hence before cooking or marinating the pleura is removed accordingly. To give you some hints, here are the different types of pork ribs:

  • Baby Ribs or what is commonly known as baby back ribs are usually taken between the spare ribs and the spine that is below the loin muscle, it is located from the top ribcage. The description “baby” specifies the cuts that are from the market-weight hogs, usually 240-270lbs or 108-122 kg. Due to the natural tapering of the pig’s rib cage, the rack is shorter at one end. Baby ribs have meat between the bones and on peak of the bones is curved, shorter and is sometimes meatier than the spare ribs. A minimum of 8 ribs is contained from a rack of ribs and can be up to 13 ribs.
  • Spare ribs or side ribs are obtained from the belly side of the rib cage that is below the part of back ribs and is above the breast bone. The more fat makes the ribs even tenderer, although it contains more bone than meat.
  • The rib tips structure contains thick costal cartilage. This kind of pork rib is a small, meaty section of the rib connected to the spare ribs’ lower end. Rib tips have high proportion of cartilage.
  • Riblets are prepared through cutting a whole set of spare ribs about in half. In the process, a set of short and flat ribs is produced where the curved part is removed to give a more uniform look. Riblets became popular due to their tremendous flavor and lower cost. The button ribs or what is also called the feather bone is a cut of meat which actually don’t have bones but rather, buttons with meat attached in this cartilaginous material. In 1986, the riblet cut was invented by Robert Wilson in Brisbane, Australia.

There are also other cuts of pork ribs and is prepared differently:

  • Country-style ribs are meatier than other rib cuts and are cut from the blade end of the loin that is close to the pork shoulder. They don’t have rib bones and rather contains parts of the shoulder blade.
  • Button ribs are not actually ribs as they are not from the rib cage, these are flat and circular-shaped bones found in the sirloin end of the loin. The meat covers each button and joins them together.
  • The rib coast can be 6 in thick and up to two feet long. It is a whole pork loin with back ribs attached to it.
  • Rib patties are made by taking off the bones and are ground. The famous McRib is actual patties that contain pork meat that are usually from the non-rib sections of the hog.
  • Rib chops contain the loin meat attached in the back rib bone. These are pork steaks thatare tender and lean.
  • The Christmas ribs are normally called the ribbe or juleribbe. It includes cooking on the oven which is steamed previously for an hour to achieve a crisp surface.

Pork and beef ribs can be equally flavorful regardless of how they are prepared. The advantage of beef ribs is that they are naturally meatier and much tenderer than pork ribs. While the pork variety is often juicier but it can be varied depending on the way they are cooked