Summertime is the perfect time for cooking ribs; mouthwatering, fall-off-the-bone, finger-licking-good ribs. For someone who may have never attempted cooking ribs before, the process of choosing the meat, the methods of preparing the meat and the choices of cooking the meat may seem a bit overwhelming. Once it is seen how easy it is to serve up these tender morsels of barbequed meat, ribs will become a weekly meat treat on your dinner table.
There are two types of ribs:
- Beef ribs
- Pork ribs
Each meat type has different varieties of ribs that can be prepared in a number of ways. People generally have a preference, which may be predicated by the geographic region in which they live or just the type they are accustomed to eating since mom or grandma made them that way.
A dry rub that is massaged into the meat and then allowed to sit overnight as the rub works its way into the meat is the favored method for many. For others, nothing will do but to continually baste the meat with a wet barbeque sauce throughout the cooking time, and then when it is time to serve them, extra sauce is available on the side.
Visiting a butcher shop is the best way to obtain good ribs. The butcher will be able to trim meat for you, remove the shin if you wish, and help you to choose the best type of rib to match the recipe you wish to prepare. When a butcher shop is not available, grocery stores are still a good choice, and many carry a variety of ribs, both beef and pork.
For all types of ribs in every method of cooking, the key component to successfully cooking ribs is the adage:
LOW AND SLOW
This means keep the temperature low, and cook slowly for a long period of time. Because the ribs have connective tissue between them designed to support the body of the steer, cooking the ribs in this manner will allow that tissue to “melt” into the meat; creating a tasty and tender product.
Whichever type of meat and whichever method of prepping and cooking is chosen, the diners are in for a treat.
Types Of Beef Ribs
With 13 pairs of ribs on a steer, there is bound to be at least one that will become a favorite on your table. The difference between the types of ribs is where they are located on the steer.
Beef Back Ribs
These ribs are located next to the back bone on the steer, and one slab generally has seven bones. Less meaty than the other types of ribs, they are still a culinary delight as they cook quickly and have less connective tissue than short ribs have. These ribs get their flavor by their location, which is right next to the tenderloin.
The cooking method for beef back ribs can be smoking, roasting in the oven or grilling.
A dry rub, consisting of any number of spices, can be rubbed into the meat before cooking, or the meat can be roasted in liquid and the favorite barbeque sauce added toward the end of the cooking time. Usual cooking time is about 2 to 3 hours, although this will depend on the meatiness of the ribs purchased. Beef back ribs are the most ideal type of beef ribs to cook on the grill or for smoking.
Chuck Short Ribs
Chuck short ribs are found in the shoulder area on the steer. These meaty ribs are cut in a few different ways by the butcher; they may be cut crossways into strips, cut into rectangular chunks or be fully trimmed of all bone.
Less connective tissue means they will cook a bit more quickly, although 1 ½ hours simmering in liquid or grilled over slow coals will still be needed. Chuck short ribs can be grilled or smoked, but the best results will likely be attained by braising in liquid.
Plate Short Ribs
Plate short ribs are the fattiest of all beef ribs, and contain the most connective tissue. Truly the “low and slow” method is necessary for these ribs, as the meat is not known for tenderness.
It is still flavorful, and can be cooked for several hours covered in the oven with a small amount of liquid to acquire a good tasting meal. These types of beef ribs should not be grilled or smoked because of their natural toughness.