Ribs are meaty, succulent and, depending on your preferences, can be finger-licking good. Some people prefer ribs that fall off the bone, while others like to gnaw at every last shred of meat. Regardless of your personal preference, there are a variety of different types of ribs to choose from. Here’s a guide to seven different types of ribs you should know about.
Baby Back Ribs
These are the most popular type of ribs in the U.S.—and they’re also the most expensive. They come from the top portion of a pork loin, which is located near the spine, and they tend to be meatier and leaner compared to other types of ribs. They also have less fat than spareribs and St Louis rib varieties. These ribs are best prepared by smoking or slow cooking them in a sauce for several hours until they’re tender enough for you to pull off the bone with your teeth.
St. Louis Style Ribs
St. Louis style ribs are basically spareribs that have been trimmed down to be more rectangular in shape so they fit into the pan better. They’re also easier to cook evenly because it’s easier to fit them into a pan when they’re all one shape. This trimming process also removes some of the excess fat from the ribs, making them a leaner cut for those who are watching their calories but still want to enjoy some barbecue.
Spareribs are the most popular of all types of ribs, and they have a lot of meat on them. This makes them a great option for cooks who want to prepare ribs that will please a crowd. The meat is usually tender and tasty, and the only downside is that there’s not much bone in the spareribs, so you may need to add more flavor with sauce. They’re also easy to eat because they don’t require silverware.
Short ribs are a cut of meat taken from the rib portion of the cow. They are usually cut into one to two-inch sections, and they’re usually prepared on the grill or in a slow cooker. They’re also delicious when braised in beer, red wine or another liquid. The key to making perfect short ribs is to cook them low and slow so that they are tender and juicy. They will take at least four hours to cook all the way through, and may take up to eight hours during cold weather.
Lamb riblets are made from a piece of lamb called the breast plate. They’ve been around since medieval times, when they were a cheap source of food for the poor, though they didn’t become popular in America until recently due to their unique flavor and texture. Lamb riblets are often braised or stewed in order to tenderize them so they’re not too chewy.
Flanked Style Ribs
There are a few types of ribs you’ll find in your local butcher shop or grocery store. One is flanked style ribs. These include the spareribs, which have a thin layer of meat on top and then the bone underneath. There are also flanken-style short ribs, which don’t have as much meat but still have bones underneath them (like baby back ribs). You’ll find these at some supermarkets as well if you know what you’re looking for—just ask!
The country-style rib is not actually a rib at all, but rather a cut from the shoulder or neck area. It’s typically cooked whole, but can also be cut into smaller sections for faster cooking. One thing to note about these kinds of ribs is that not all butchers will sell them on the bone. They may be sold boneless, in which case they may be called “country-style pork chops”. If you go to a butcher and ask for country-style ribs, be sure to ask if they’re on the bone or off—this will let you know how long to cook them and what temperature to do it at.
I hope that this guide was helpful to you. Some of the information provided here might be familiar to you, but hopefully it was also a good refresher for some of the fundamentals. I tried to cover all the different types of ribs and give a little bit of focus on how each one is best cooked. Do you have a favorite rib? Try incorporating it into one of the rubs that I listed above, or share them in the comment section below; let’s see what other recipes we can create!